Thursday, December 8, 2011
Quality of Life
For a human, it's pretty easy to figure out. If there is happiness, and an abundance of those "things" a person feels are necessary to promote happiness, then the quality of life is good. IMO this is the wrong way to go about finding happiness and a quality of life, but this is the general consensus about what constitutes happiness and quality.
But dog's aren't into things, they are not into happiness as a concept per se - as a beingness yes, but not something they think about or ponder. So what makes a dog happy and what constitutes a quality of life for a dog?
Why is this important and how does it contribute to the quality of life of that (or any) dog?
Most behavior problems start with a dog's desire to have it's needs met. Food, water, a place to sleep, play, and belonging to a social group. These are the "things" that makes for a satisfied and "happy" dog in my experience. Avoidance of pain and trauma is the other half of the equation.
So the "happiness" that the dog has engineered for itself quickly becomes torture as the dog tries to relieve it's boredom and the humans try to stop the process of relief. This stopping process can sometimes involve pain and trauma and send the dog into a fight or flight response. Ever wonder why your dog jumps the fence to explore the wider world?
Happiness is also a choice. Humans make this choice all the time. Do I buy the fancy new car or send my kid to college? Humans also make the choice to consider that quality is "things" and happiness is having "things" or entertainment. In my world view, happiness is achieving goals. Every time I set a goal and actually achieve it, I'm happy. If I do this alot, the happiness never stops. It doesn't matter much how much stuff I have, so long as I can live a life of accomplishment. The goals don't have to be big things, activities that take a lot of time - they can be small things like teaching a dog to sit on cue for the very first time.
How do you provide an environment that will give your dog a quality of life? Show your dog how to create appropriate experiments, learn to make approved choices in this mostly flat boring (for a dog) human world, give him a job to do, create goals and purposes for his life that allow him to live stress free in our world. And most of all, give him a time every day where he can just be a dog doing dog things !!