Natural dogmanship: Understand what your dog is saying

Wag Wiki, last updated 21st, May 2013, Shilpy


Believe it or not, every part of your dog’s body tells a story. The way he stands, the way he looks at you, the tone of his voice, his ears, all have something to say. He whines, growls or woofs depending on the urgency what he wants. He might not be speaking like you, but he tries to make you understand his needs.

Dogs use their body gestures and facial expressions to let you understand what is happening inside their mind. As dog owners, it is your job to identify what these signs mean? It is like understanding a foreign language without a translator. Do you want to know how your lovable pet is feeling? Do you want to find what is going on in his mind? If yes, then you would have to learn his language or his way of communication.

Natural Dogmanship is the art of learning how dogs naturally behave and communicate among one.It also implies learning how to communicate with a dog and work with his natural instinct. It takes a special person to recognize and relate this concept.

People try to make their dogs understand the human language so as to communicate with them. However, it is difficult or impossible at times to make him understand our language. Instead, one should try to understand a dog's natural instincts and learn his language. Every animal has its own instinct and needs. Lot of people are so close to their pets that they forget or don’t bother about their pet’s natural instinct. Many people think that natural dogmanship is a cruel concept which should not be practiced. Alternatively, it will be more cruel if we don’t understand the needs and wants of our pets. Remember, all behavioural issues originate from wrong handling and not practising natural dogmanship. A dog’s temperament is a result of his owner’s ability to understand and fulfil his needs and natural instincts. Any undesirable trait which is shown by your pooch is because of the fact that you are not communicating with him in his language and hence he is not respecting you as the leader of his pack. As a dog owner, you could be applying your emotions and psychology in training and communicating with him. Just because you have brought him into your world does not mean that he will change his natural instincts.

A dog starts learning things as soon as he is born. His mother makes him wait for his food when he is in litter. She controls his activities like when to play and how far to go. These rules and limitations are passed on from puppy hood to adulthood. Adult dogs need the same rules, boundaries and limitations set by their leader. When you domesticate a dog, he expects the same rules and regulations from you, as his pack leader. A pack leader does not impose emotional energy on him, so neither should you. He uses the calm and positive energy to control him in interacting with the surroundings. You must keep your emotional attitude aside and put the wants and needs of your dog first. You must have seen that a mother picks up the pup by the neck when he disobeys and starts roaming outside his boundaries or den.  Establish your ownership in asking him to work before you feed him. Just as you do not love him unless he is in submissive state, do not feed him until he is calm and submissive. If he jumps on the leash while taking him to walk, stop walking until he comes in calm and submissive state. Exercise helps a lot in training your dog to be calm, especially high energy walks and running. According to Cesar Milan, “We have to use exercise, discipline and affection every day. Most of the time people share affection, affection, affection, affection and that creates frustration. In a powerful breed, that is going to lead him into aggression. So exercise and discipline play a big role in balance.”

How to show your dog that you are his pack leader

Here are some basic ways by which you can show your dog that you are his pack leader. If you brought a new pup home, inculcate these things from the first day itself. Be gentle but firm. Dogs respect invisible boundaries which have been inculcated since their birth. These are stronger than made-made boundaries. Dogs set these invisible rules all the time by using their gestures and energy. It is you who has to give time and lot of patience in order reinforce your rules until your dog follows.

  • When you take your dog for walks, make sure that he is always walking behind you or with you. Never let him lead you. Letting him walk in front of you gives him an opportunity to think that he is charge of you.
  • When you are walking through the entrance of your house or into a room, make sure you allow your dog to enter or leave the doorway or room only after you have gone through.
  • Do not allow your dog to have his dinner before you have eaten.

If you already own a dog or if you are going to get one, the art of learning Natural Dogmanship is helpful to understand your dog’s communication methods. In this way you can identify his needs and wants. After all the ultimate aim is to fulfil his needs and to give him a good dog-life!

Dogs make gestures and voices just as the way we do, in order to express their emotions. While some of these gestures may appear similar to us, they can have entirely different meanings. Interpreting your dog’s gestures can help you communicate with him effectively. Learning your dog’s usual habits, his movements and manners will help you in the process of interpreting his behaviour. In this way he will feel more natural and you will be able to know what he is trying to tell you. The importance of learning dog’s language helps you to understand his problems before they become more aggravated. If you do not notice his small signs of stress, he can be more distressed and eventually show some unwanted behaviours. Natural Dogmanship is a two way process. Just as you would have to understand their behaviours, dogs also have to learn behaviour cues as well. Always keep the training experience fun and happy for your dog. It is all about your attitude. You have to be firm but fair, have an ideal timing, have a true belief in your dog and be his inevitable leader. Trainers who have expertise in natural dogmanship also use voice and leash training.

So learn as much as you can about how your dog communicates. Read about natural dogmanship. Work on building ‘bond’ with your dog. Groom him properly and take out time to interact with him. No wonder why Henry James says, “Of course what he most intensely dreams of is being taken out on walks, and the more you are able to indulge him the more will he adore you and the more all the latent beauty of his nature will come out.”

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