In the love we have for our dogs, concern for their welfare is inherent. Often times, this concern presents itself when our dogs are sick or injured, and we call the vet. But what else contributes to the welfare of our dogs besides addressing their physical needs?
As dog guardians who all strive to have well-behaved dogs, we undoubtedly benefit from understanding how dogs learn. Incorporating this knowledge of learning theory into our interactions with our dogs can make training more effective and fun.
Through my various studies and experiences learning about and working with dogs, I’ve come to believe that one of the most important things we can do to improve the human-dog relationship is to improve our understanding of canine body language. Inadequate understanding of dog behavior and body language not only damages the human-dog bond, but it also puts people at risk for bites. Furthermore, the more we learn about dog behavior and body language, the more we learn about the safest, most humane and effective ways to train them.
Many dog guardians would agree that they’re attached to their dogs and that their dogs are attached to them. However, many don’t realize just how unique and important that bond is.
When we think about dogs, many of us think about a loving, loyal companion--one that might even be curled up on the couch next to you as you read this (both of mine are). However, not all dogs are allowed on the couch, let alone considered companions.
Strong, interdependent relationships have been cultivated between humans and nonhuman animals for thousands of years (Amiot & Bastian, 2015). While nonhuman animals are utilized in countless ways ranging from food, clothing, etc., one of the more complex relationships exists between humans and their companion animals.
During my fall semester as a second-year graduate student in the Anthrozoology program at Canisius College, I took a wonderful course entitled "Psychology of the Human-Animal Bond." As I'm sure you can imagine, I learned so much in this course that applies directly to the work I do through Heal to Howl. I wanted to share with you the paper I wrote for this class as it very interestingly compares various dog training methods with parenting styles. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below!
Most humans would agree that we share some very special relationships with nonhuman animals. The relationships we have with our companion animals such as dogs as well as horses are often rooted in strong emotional bonding and attachment(1). Research has shown that this attachment bonding is actually quite similar to what occurs between humans, but, of course, is also very unique. By deepening our understanding of these bonds, we can determine how to become better animal guardians.
Over the past six months, I've had the amazing pleasure of deepening my education and experience in dog training and behavior:
I wanted to share with you the paper I wrote for one of my classes in the Anthrozoology program at Canisius College. Writing it has further inspired me to want to provide education to animal guardians through Heal to Howl. It's a long one, so I thank you in advance for taking the time to read it!
Owner of Heal to Howl.