Doggy Predators - A Dateline Exclusive
Owners with dogs who work for a living (police dogs, search & rescue, etc.) - this article doesn’t pertain to you. I understand you have to do what you have to do, and your dog has a greater purpose. Thanks to you and your dogs for your dedication and service.
This article is for those who are struggling to solve behavior problems and need a new direction. A direction that may seem weird, scary, or disconnected from the social norm. I get it. All I ask for is an open mind. What’s the harm in non-judgmental listening? This specific topic I plan to rap more on next year. I hope these personal stories will help someone.
Do these statements sound familiar?
-Josie just LOVES playing fetch. Chasing the toy over and over. Her eyes get big and red (like gimundo saucers!) She just loves chasing the “insert inanimate object here.” We’ve spent enough to buy a small car. All those toys and fun for Josie’s destructive enjoyment.
-Bruce is a high energy dog. He needs to burn it off everyday by playing frisbee, rollerblading, biking, etc. He is the best at playing chase with me, too. The more physical activities the better for him. He’s so fast. He loves it!
-Zena loves her little furry toy friends we buy her. She needs them because she can’t play with other dogs. She wants to eat them for some reason. :( When she plays with her toy friends she rips all their eyeballs off, then tails, and eventually rips all the stuffing out to get to the squeaky inside. We need to buy new toys frequently, but she just LOVES her toy friends. It does get expensive, though.
-Or this doozy that I heard at a dog conference last year during a presentation: “Dogs are PREDATORS! so we need to train them like that. They NEED to do predator stuff to feel fulfilled. Right!” *I’ll be sharing some questions I had after I heard that talk in future articles. Some things didn’t make sense to me.
Okay! Stay on topic Gary.
I have these statements repeated to me by clients daily and I hear them preached in dog training circles just as frequently. In fact, not long ago, I use to be a champion for these perceived biological canine requests and encouraged owners to give dogs exactly that. It took some time for me to understand that I was seeing it from my side (a game) not the dog’s side (hunting training).
So I started to think - why do dogs hunt? What is the biological need that is being fulfilled when the dog hunts?
To satisfy hunger. That’s it. Pretty simple.
It’s not a game to them. In fact not one case of a dog killing another animal (that I have ever experienced) has the dog ever eaten what they killed. They just killed it. That’s not normal behavior. In nature - who has time to run around killing stuff, just for shits and giggles? Lots and lots of dogs who are destroyed every day have been made to think they still need the outdated behavior of hunting. They learn how important it is to their existence. It must be - they practice the skill everyday with great passion and vigilance. It has to mean something. If not, what’s the purpose of the activity?
As 2016 is coming to a close, I would like to ask everyone to do one thing for me. And I haven’t asked for anything all year. :) Think about this: Dogs can only think like dogs.
So, if this is true (as I believe it to be) you can’t expect a dog (with such a simple, primal mind) to understand the complexity of the human version of hunting - which is supposed to be interpreted as a game.
Watch this dog’s eyes. Does he think it’s a game?
Do you think that dog understands that it is only a game? Do they have the capability? If so, how do you know? I’d love to hear from you. I’m planning my content for next year and I want to hear your opinions. If there is anything in particular you would like me to talk about, or something I can help you with let me know.
Head Rubs and Belly Scratches