One of the most common questions we get from our clients is “Does my dog understand me?”
You see, while dogs do have feelings and emotions such as “happy, sad, nervous, excited”, they do not carry emotions such as “guilt, shame, anger”. These complex ranges of emotion are human characteristics that we mistakenly attribute to dogs.
Humans, as intellectual beings, are able to rationalize and understand what’s happening. For example, when a mother comforts her child from a bad dream, even if it is still scary, the child can use his power of visualization and rationalization to know that he will be OK. He is able to start mapping the route from where he is now to where he will be.
On the other hand, when a human comforts a dog who is nervous or afraid, the dog actually thinks that he has received affection/reward for these feelings of nervousness or fear, and as such the dog thinks “OK, this behavior is accepted in my pack”. Dogs are instinctual animals and cannot rationalize what is happening to them.
So, to answer the question, Yes, you dog does understand you, BUT … As you might imagine, using human psychology to relate to a dog, such as in the instance above, can create big problems when it comes to training. Dogs need structure in their lives, they need to know where they stand. It can be hard to want to discipline our dogs, because we love them and want them to be happy, but setting boundaries and rules is a key competent to giving your dog the kind of life it needs to thrive.
Our “Pack Leader” approach helps train you to communicate in a language that your dog can understand.
Stay tuned for our next post in this blog series where we will discuss the methods you SHOULD use to relate to your dog’s psychology.
We invite you to make an appointment today to meet with a Denver Dog Trainer where we will go over these methods and more. Let us walk with you on the path to a wonderful lifelong relationship with your furry friend!