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Conflict Resolution: If They Understand, They Will Do as You Wish

Dogs and humans have been cohabitating for a very long time. Humans have utilized dogs for a vast array of tasks and new jobs are found for them all the time. Even though these two species spend so much time together it is not always a seamless joining. When conflict arises it is often because of the differences in the two species and the lack of understanding the human has of these differences.

Humans walk upright on two legs, dogs walk on all four therefore, a height difference. Humans use words to communicate, dogs their body language. Dogs don’t understand the high pitched, repeated utterances of a stressed human and our flaying arms. They don’t understand the stiff body of the human saying that fake sweet, “Come here, Fido.” Both human and dog are predators. Domesticated dogs see us more as Mommy and Daddy than an alpha wolf as was thought in the past. So, it is fairly easy to see how conflict may arise, isn’t?

Yet the burden to reduce the likelihood of conflict rests on the human half, not the dog half of this union. The human makes most of the demands, chooses the activities the dog participates in, and frustrates the easiest. The dogs’ ability to live with humans and their constant, inconsistent demands will never cease to amaze or appall me. Humans are supposed to be the bigger thinkers, humans have the burden to resolve the conflict, or better yet, prevent it in the first place. Why is it so hard?

One reason is because humans are not real sure what they really want before they expect the dog to do it. Again the example of the fake sweet command to “come” as everything about the command and the human saying it says everything, BUT “come to me and it will be so wonderful for you.” Another reason is the human often assumes the dog should just know not to do something. An example for which this is true is taking food off the counter. The dog truly does not know he can control his urges and not steal that thawing steak. He can be taught though, he just needs the guidance. He is not dissimilar to a 2 year old child lacking self-control before his parents educate. Lastly, human inconsistency is no friend when it comes to ease of dog rearing. Dogs, much like small children, thrive in a consistent environment where the rules are clear and don’t change on a whim. The human must remember that they feel very strongly about Rover not jumping on people and hold steadfastly to that feeling. It must not be forgotten every other day, once a week, or even once a month when the human walks in the door and allows the dog to jump on them without permission. Humans don’t dig inconsistent humans, dogs dig it even less.

Dogs are very biddable, very willing to please, but they need to know and truly understand what is being asked of them. If they really understand they will do as expected. The human’s wish will be their command.