What is the dog’s place?
Amongst my clients and friends I have been able to collect a wide range of points of view on this subject.
Some people do not even want to hear about letting the dog in the house and some others cannot help sleeping with the dog in their bed.
Even if apparently it seems that these are two opposite extremes of the argument that I am about to introduce, they are not.
This brief text has the ambition to shed light on another horizon of meaning.
When an individual or a family chooses to adopt a dog, this choice is usually accompanied by a series of expectations about how life will change in the company of the newcomer.
Can it be onerous or pleasant to take care of him? What could we do together or what could we no longer do because of him? What can we offer and what do we expect from him?
The answers that each of us, in different ways, will be able to provide to these and many more questions will determine the “dog’s place.”
It begins to emerge therefore that this place is not a physical place, it cannot be defined in centimetres or meters square, rather, it is a meta-space, a space that is formed within our minds or, depending on the case, in our heart.
If we asked the right questions and we answered all of them with extreme sincerity, the dog will easily find its place in a perfectly harmonious way with our expectations, he will feel joy and satisfaction in occupying that place and, most importantly, he will give us joy and satisfaction.
Instead, problems arise when expectations are frustrated, because instead of being based on a solid foundation of honest considerations, they rest on a sandy soil, consisting of illusions and fantasies.
Thus, I think that the main cause of problems in the relationship between a man and a dog is established in this deadly dynamic: illusion causes disappointment.
So, for example, there are puppies that are elected princes of the house, for a few months they are made to believe that they are entitled to some privileges and when they can no longer be sustained, the dog who quickly grows, in an attempt to maintain the standard of life to which he had become accustomed and to which they had guaranteed, begins to manifest behaviours we would define unwanted and that, if not taken into proper consideration and treated quickly, can easily transform into (roughly following this metamorphosis): agitation, nervousness , arrogance, and aggression.
I talked about the risk of aggression because it is for everyone the most serious and dangerous manifestation of the dog discomfort, but various forms of disobedience or escape can also be considered the consequence of the same discomfort.
The relationship between a man and a dog can offer that well-being, that feeling of belonging, sharing, reciprocity, when it is well settled on the platform of reality.
If we recognize and share these assumptions, it will be apparent that education, be it preventive or recovery, will not have the dog as the only receiver and will not be aimed exclusively to the teaching of positions such as “sit” or “down.”
In carrying out my role as a dog trainer, I do not intend to offer absolute or dogmatic terms of relationship and dog care. Instead, I propose to let emerge, through a process of mutual knowledge and understanding between the dog and the owner, those relative, specific and individual conditions useful to help ensure balance and well-being of the man-dog interaction.
The dog’s place