Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Just had one of those moments of realization after a third Christmas dinner and the attached alcoholic binge, plus the mandatory late night dog walk that followed. Dogs and people are pretty similar.

Dogs love to look for patterns, as in after x comes y. When they hear me get up in the morning and start peeing in the toilet, walk time is next, so they start to get excited and riled up. My Kishu Tenko goes into nervous energy mode and paces (she was kennel raised and never walked, so pacing is what she does when she goes over her stress threshold).

People love to look for patterns and rules in life too. It feels so good to know that if we do x, y will follow. It's everywhere. We try to control outcomes, and in their own way, dogs are trying to control outcomes too.

But where it gets really eye opening is when we realize that we're not controlling a lot of the outcomes we're looking for, no more than Tenko is when she paces. Of course there are some things that we can control, but the vast majority of things that happen everyday are actually influenced by too many outside factors to be truly under our control.

People that can't deal with this end up stressing, and dogs do too. This is why I don't let my dogs pace or go into neurotic behavioral patterns. I don't like habits like that, they annoy me, and they're not good for the dog either (no more than they are good for people). It's pretty easy to teach dogs that the toilet flushing in the morning doesn't equal walk time. Just mix up the order of things, and don't move onto walk time until the dog has calmed down. If the dog's not calming down, distract and stop the behavior, then move on to walk time.

This is why I don't have too many patterns with my dogs. I don't walk them at set times every day, and there's no specific order that everyone is walked, or that things are done. Anyway, I learn a lot about behavior hanging with my dogs. It's better for them to be flexible, aware, with higher stress tolerance, less need for controlling their environment, and to be able to handle change. Goes the same way with people.

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