how to train your dog
· Consider the new puppy whose owners come home at regular times and join in an ecstatically joyful greeting ceremony. Information on dog behavior lead to change in your dog attitude. This imagery is quickly ingrained, and the pup begins to anticipate the experience, just as Konorski’s dogs hallucinated about the flickering light and the food tray. However, as will happen in even the most well regulated household, one day the owner is late. The puppy begins experiencing the images of his tardy owners … starts fretting, pacing. Well primed energies, ready for the greeting ceremony, demand an outlet as the adrenaline starts pumping.
· What’s going on in its mind’s eye or ear? It probably imagines hearing footsteps, perhaps even sees the door open… which doesn’t happen. But it should. This introduces conflict between what it wants and expects and what is really happening. Conflict creates frustration. Frustration produces anxiety, which triggers an even greater adrenaline rush. The pup searches for something real to satisfy its desire to ‘experience’ the owner … a magazine or book it saw the owner reading recently. It is rich with the owner’s scent. If it cannot have the owner there, it can at least have their genuine odour or taste. So it sniffs, tastes, maybe even swallows parts of the article. Naturally, this does not fully substitute for the whole owner, so the puppy’s social appetite is not really satisfied. · Finally, here comes the owner. The puppy innocently launches into its joyous, semi-hysterical ritual. The owner starts to join in, but spies the pulverized magazine or book. What’s this? Naturally, if not wisely, the owner angrily grabs the pup, drags it to the demolished object and scolds it, or slaps it’s snout or rump, or both. The pet’s single track mind is riveted on the owner. It yips, rolls over, or struggles vainly to escape. Punishment concluded, the owner angrily picks up the remnants of the article and storms to the trash basket.
· The net result of this is a totally confused pup with a conflicting set of images of its owner. This sort of shock to the nervous system is called psychic trauma in both animals and humans. A conflict has been instilled between the positive image of the owner (happy Dr Jekyll) and the negative (Mr Homecoming Hyde). This creates frustration and anxiety about homecomings, growing in severity if the scenario is repeated a few times. (It is interesting that in many cases, owners tell us that the pup was fine for a day or so after the first punishment. This may equate to the human experience of repression, in which memory of the traumatic experience is suppressed, creating a sort of ‘backwards amnesia.’) Even when this occurs, since the punishment was not associated with the act of chewing up something, the puppy seeks out another article, perhaps a shoe, and the cycle is repeated until the total relationship between owner and dog is tainted with emotional ambivalence. Mixed feelings are eating away at the positive qualities of their relationship. Negative emotional impressions may start to dominate it.
· At about this stage, many owners conclude that the punishment may not have been severe enough. That’s why the correction was not permanent. So they intensify it. The relationship erodes further as weeks go by. Enough of this cascading negative effect and the owner is ready take drastic action. The dog, now hypersensitive to its owner’s mood change, feels something is wrong. This often is reflected by new problems, such as submissive wetting when the owner comes home or approaches the dog at other times; off schedule bowel movements or urination occur, etc.
· Many pets act insecure, currying more favor when the owner is home, and hence, missing the owner even more acutely when left alone. Frustration and anxiety build, while the isolation related, tension relieving behavior mounts. The unwitting owner, who originally may have thought the dog is ‘getting even’ for being left alone, begins to consider it incorrigible.