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Self Control Vs Control, Micromanaging and Bored Dogs!

When any living being is controlled, the controlling party doesn’t have issues with them until those being controlled get fed up with it or don’t take well to it. It is stifling for the controlled and you will undoubtedly get backlash. Is it far better to educate those around you to be able to exhibit self-control? Work with you, not for you. So they can then make educated decisions when they encounter a problem as opposed to you firefighting negative reactions and trying to control the situation or being.

So in short teaching self, as opposed to imposed control is always preferable.

adorable dogEducating children for me and many others is an issue, we call them fabulous and bright if they do well academically in Language, Maths and science. Hey, what about other stuff like creativity? Are those children thick? No, they just don’t fit into the square box. A fabulous example is sporting silver medal winner who was an absolute menace at school (name escapes me sadly but this example can be seen all throughout society today), his father enrolled him in a boxing club and with that, his behaviour changed for the better at home and at school, the rest just fell into place. This brings me to the subject of Dog training, for me it is too limiting and for many personalities, it’s too difficult or pointless and no fun; to learn to sit, Stay and Heel in isolation. We try to teach them IMO too young to become the adults we want them to be, in fact, we try to teach them to be mini humans. Learning has to be fun and with the right understanding teacher goals will be achieved.

These goals, we must also understand are our own goals, the goals put on us by a pressure from what’s expected by society. No dog or child enters this world with goals or understanding of why they are necessary and in some cases, these goals are way too ambitious for many individuals.

We all feel the need to fit into and be welcome within society, to respect and trust and feel safe with those around us. We need to achieve as close as possible to living naturally, with also with the ability to fit to some square pegs that we as humans have developed.

Education needs to fall hand in hand with each individual being and their unique personality and presence. Being able to express themselves and through that being understood for who and what they are is paramount.

Let’s give each individual achievable age-appropriate boundaries. To empower them to be who they and be mindful of not crushing them into the box of this is too difficult for many, I don’t get why I should do it etc. Give them the tools to be able to express themselves in a mindful manner and treat those they come across, whether human or animal with respect. It’s a tall order for an animal who naturally is a scavenger or hunter.

If we give neither attainable (age appropriate) boundaries and goals or teach self-control then you’re on your way to having to solve problems and troubleshooting with a dog out of control through blasting them with too much too soon. Which actually results in no self-control when we speak about people or animals. We as humans live in very cramped communities more often than not, it’s suffocating at the best of times for many and we actually expect dogs to just fit in. Wow and to think many do, is an incredible feat and accolade to them indeed.

Dogs, like us, learn best, in a non-threatening, safe environment. So not surprising then that most of their learning happens at home. This is where invariably they train/teach us to react to their reactions, where they watch our every move and make their own conclusions up depending on our response to any given (non-verbal) question they ask.

For example, A jump up to say hi and we crush it with a sit command /request, then we stroke them. So, their first display has got our attention, so in the dog’s mind it’s worth doing, we then stroke with them sitting. I like to cut out the middleman in all this and make is simple and straightforward so the dog then has to think more about actions and personal space rather than us micromanaging the situation. SO Dog jumps up, I give no eye contact, walk in a pace so dog gets down, he’s got absolutely no attention from me (imagine you may be talking to someone else or carrying hot drinks) The dog then walks away after a few more tries and as he does I call him to me for praise. He gets me when I’m not being forced into a position that may result in an accident or being mugged for attention. So Your dog learns that jumping up reaps no rewards, but all four feet on the ground get a quicker result and all he wants and needs, as you do too.

We bring up our children in a world where they win a medal whether they come first or last, where disappointing and letting them down by cancelling a treat is frowned upon, where being bored is not an option.

We entertain and praise and give out all the good stuff then they become adults where life is full of disappointments and they can’t cope, they can’t cope being alone and no gadgets to entertain them, just being, has never been an option. Children seem to be allowed to butt into an adult conversation or activity and it’s acceptable. Where are the boundaries?  Without boundaries, we get lost and afraid. With too much pressure to be an academic genius, we lose our self and self-worth. If we get crushed for not achieving academically (sit, stay and heel) does that make us thick? NO, it’s who we are, we are either very creative or not being taught the way we learn.

Put some fun back into learning, put achievable boundaries in place and teach the way the individual learns, the way each species learns. Do not feed the information via dictation and printed sheets where no actual thought is required. Get them working it out for themselves by giving the right guidance and resources.

In the same vein, dogs know how to sit, stay and walk alongside one another, so instead of teaching them that lesson in the way, we as humans feel it should be done, do it with thought and empathy. Start off the lead in an area conducive to learning. At Home and then teach the same in more low stimulus environments and build up slow but sure, we are teaching them to fit into our world and not to conform for our own gratification. Teach them that negative and unacceptable behaviours result in not getting you to react, show them that just “being” is good, patience is good and bored is actually nothing to fear, it is just learning to be happy with yourself in your own thoughts. Being occupied all the time by adults/ owners leaves no room for self.

I’m hearing so many times why a dog plays up, is that he must be bored. We all need to learn that being still and quiet does not mean boredom. Nothing to do should not equate to boredom. OK if nothing happens for days then fair play and you’re alone for hours then it’s not boredom I feel, it’s the need just to be with likeminded.

If you entertain a puppy too much then, of course, it will not grow with the ability to just “Be” which is the most important and undervalued place to be in their minds.

Self-control is learnt by guidance and been given options so you are then able to make an educated decision and therefore good choices with the information received.

Learning to take the highs and lows all in equal measure makes for a rounded animal whether human or dog.

By Caroline Spencer for Bella and Duke raw food

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2 responses to “Self Control Vs Control, Micromanaging and Bored Dogs!

  1. Your article is so so true and it should be given out with puppy information packs, vets and dog training clubs. This is one of the most sensible articles I have read in years! I teach at two dog clubs and would love some flyers to hand out if possible On this subject. I am in the process of changing my 1year old pup to raw feeding combined with a different approach to training as we have never experienced the issues he has with any of our previous dogs. You are obviously very in tune with animals, good luck in all you do. Kind regards, Jenny

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