Your dog sees you as a dog

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In the dog’s eyes, you are a 3-headed creature!

By Marianne Miltenburg

dog BoomerAs soon as we stepped down from the plane with our new family member, in the middle of the night, we took him out for a walk. It was touching to see his surprise when he walked on grass! He simply had never walked on a leash, never had seen grass in his life before! As we kept encouraging him, the following days, he slowly got used to it (and enjoyed!).

Of course it was a gamble whether our Cretan dog would stay as nice as he had been till now, but my intuition said he would. But because it is good for the dog, ànd for the people he is living with, to make some house rules and appointments about behaviour, it seemed useful to me signing up for dog training course.

In the first lesson I learned this: a long time ago man discovered how to tame the primitive dog, the wolf, the originally forefather of all our dogs. Finally dogs were ‘developed’ as cattle-drivers, hunting dogs, watchdogs and companion dogs. Although they became tame, the language of the wolves is still the mother tongue of the companion dog and all social manners of the wolf are still in force.

For wolves as well as for stray dogs, living together in groups stands for safety, but requires cooperation. It demands clear ranks and stations because otherwise there will be restlessness within the group. That is why the herd is led by a consequent herd leader. His behaviour is defining; he decides whether they will sleep, hunt, fight or run. The herd looks at hìm, not the other way around.

The dog in the human family sees this family as his herd and because he is entitled to have a leader, that is a role we human beings must fulfil. Stray dog pups are often born in the middle of nowhere. At first the mother dog – when she is lucky – will be fed by the father dog, but after a while she will have to go with him for finding food. The pups stay close together; instinctively they know: straying off from the herd will finally mean death to them.

After three weeks the pup can see, smell and hear, and from this time on he will know he is a dog. By associating with his dog family, he will quickly learn to behave how he is expected. So please keep in mind, if you ever consider saving a stray pup, or getting a dog from someone you know, never take him away from his nest too early. Not before he is 8 weeks old! It is necessary for the pup to practice his social skills. Socialization is a process during which animals learn to which kind of animal they belong, which language and which behaviour fits them.

Your dog sees you as a dog, with the difference that you have three heads, in his point of view. One head is just your head; the other two heads are your hands. Dogs lick and bite each other friendly. In his opinion you can lick with your hands by stroking and you can bite by pinching. So, from his point of view, your hands and his mouth have the same possibilities.

In the dogs eyes you are a superior dog: standing on two legs and with three heads!


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