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Pet Advice
  Humans analyse,
while dogs live
in the present
Caroline Fardell with thoughts on canine matters
Ask a room of a dozen people what their favourite ice cream is and you’d probably end up with a dozen different
answers. ‘Strawberry – because it reminds me of my childhood’; ‘vanilla – because that is how ice cream should taste; ‘chocolate chip – because any opportunity to eat more chocolate can only be a good thing!’.
Most people would think hard and analyse exactly why it is that we like a certain ice cream and we do this because we are human. If you asked a dog why it liked vanilla ice cream, it would answer (if it could), ‘because I like vanilla ice cream.’ This neatly sums up a major difference between humans and dogs.
Humans analyse and dogs are more present. As dog owners we benefit hugely on
many levels if we can attempt to understand canine. If we can appreciate how dogs think and what is important to them, we are better able to shape our behaviour and training accordingly and our dogs will be more relaxed, offering more of the behaviours we crave.
Yet, whatever research behavioural scientists come up with, we are still just
nibbling around the edges of understanding what is going on in a dog’s head. To quote American writer and naturalist, Henry Beston;
“We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear ......"
In spite of hundreds of years of domestication, animals such as dogs and horses are nevertheless driven by instincts to survive. They live by unwritten laws which are deeply embedded in their DNA. Humans also operated at this instinctual level before a verbal or written language evolved. But now, we live by man-made laws and, therefore, have mislaid the ability to function well at an instinctive level. We are all born with these senses but rapidly lose them as we grow up. This is because humans have devised a society where such authenticity is not necessary to our survival. We learn to listen more to what people say rather than to trust their body language.
Luckily for us, in this country at least, few people wake up wondering where they will get their next meal from. We drive to the supermarket when we run out of food. Likewise, we rarely leave the house worrying about whether we will be attacked. So, because we live in a land of plenty and are relatively safe our survival instincts have been blunted.
We can analyse and reason because we have a highly developed neocortex – the part of the brain that is responsible for ‘higher’ function. So, since we have the intellectual advantage over dogs, it has to be our responsibility to learn their language rather than the other way round. Our neocortex may be well polished but we still have the capacity to brush up the skills offered to us by the intuitive part of our brain. Perhaps we need a better balance in our lives between thinking and feeling, doing and being. And if we can achieve a better balance, we will inevitably achieve a better connection and relationship with our dog.
I like vanilla ice cream because I like vanilla ice cream.
 If you have a question for Caroline please contact
Caroline Fardell at Hound Solutions caroline.fardell1@btinternet.com 07530 504340
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