Monday, January 14, 2013

Labels

Many dog trainers, behaviorists and TV personalities attempt to speak with authority on the subject of wolf and dog behaviour. However, their knowledge of wolves is largely second-hand information gleaned from books, research papers and television documentaries about both wild and captive wolves. Much of this information is now out of date, and subsequently retracted by those who did the original research. In reality, the best teachers are the wolves and dogs themselves when it comes to learning about their behaviour and relationships with their own and other species. While many professional dog trainers work with dogs daily, and have the opportunity to interact and experience a variety of breeds and temperaments, very few have the chance to work with captive wolves on the same basis over a number of years.

The best learning experience is always hands on, immersion into the subject you are learning about. You can learn the general theories and methods from the experience of others by reading, going to seminars and even attending workshops and schools. But until you've actually worked with at least 1000 aggressive dogs your words and utterances will only be based on others wisdom and not your own experiential knowledge. Until you've brought at least 1000 shy dogs away from their fears and given them the ability to enjoy life again, be careful how emphatic you are about asserting your "rightness".

A dog who is not actually being a dog, but is an amalgam of what a dog could be and what humans have constructed with their ignorance, is not a simple construct. To label such a dog as "dominant" or "submissive" does a grave injustice to yourself and the dog. There is so much more to discover about such a dog in order to assist him. By actually demeaning him with such a vague, amorphous label, demeans you and your abilities as well.

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