Isn’t he cute and look how cute he can look! Vanessa has had her little darling for six weeks now and anticipates every wish from the little rascal’s eyes. He always gets the latest that advertising has to offer. His blanket is changed twice a week so it doesn’t smell, and at supper, she shares every loaf with her four-legged friend. In exactly equal parts, of course, because she wants to be fair.
Our normal food is already a problem for humans, but the same for our sofa wolves? This is a health disaster, a real nightmare.
Vanessa means well when it comes to her four-legged friend, just like millions of other dog owners. They have all taken a wrong turn on the animal love road at some point. However, treats and food are just one stalk in a large bouquet of misconduct. Because the spiritual inner life also wants to be fed, but please with the right ingredients and that’s exactly where the real problem lies. We bring all these animals into our world and mostly ignore their species-appropriate needs.
When the little rascal is finally with us, what does he think about me?
A dog has plenty of time to observe and read us – our behavior, our movements, our breathing, and even our mood. This smart guy ruthlessly exploits our weaknesses to get what he wants. They don’t function like humans, which would be odd, but they can still make connections to events. If the keys rattle, we go for a walk, or if the master has our bowls in hand, there is delicious food. Depending on race and disposition, the connection to events may be even more pronounced… or not. We can also consciously influence what our clever four-legged friends think of us through our body language.
At this point, of course, the question almost automatically bursts out:
What is thinking?
Can our dogs even do that? Let’s do without all the technical gibberish, nobody understands anyway. We summarize the answer in just two sentences: If a being perceives/recognizes a situation and draws on this experience in another way of acting and its actions are influenced by it, we can call this thinking with a clear conscience.
Our dogs, at least most of them, can recognize complex connections and incorporate them into their actions. This means that the initially mentioned Vanessa is not in charge, but her dog decides where to go. With her, the dog sees itself as the master of the house and Vanessa is only there to provide him with food on time. He’s almost always watching her, except when he’s asleep, content and stuffed, on his blanket—which smells like lilacs when it’s freshly laundered. Most of the canine friends simply know too little about their companions and the wondrous world of their own. Or do you know what goes on in a dog when a child lovingly hugs a four-legged friend? Depending on the breed and disposition, each dog perceives this behavior as submissive, because in the canine world, only the lower rank goes to the higher pack member. The shaggy roommate thinks the kids are in the pack below him. The result is a statistic in which countless people, mostly children, are bitten by badly trained dogs.
This is not to be confused with working dogs’ praise when they have done a good job, as here it is a positive affirmation of good action. However, this happens less euphorically, but mostly with verbal praise, whereby the dog perceives the tone of voice and the gestures … and evaluates them.
This is mostly because two- and four-legged friends often do not speak the same language, so one simply does not understand what the other wants. Let’s say you allow your dog to hop onto your sofa and occasionally make a cozy lounging spot there. Apart from the fact that your four-legged friend thinks he has risen in the pack hierarchy, he will often lie in this cozy spot from now on.
At some point, you won’t even notice it anymore. But one day you want to lie down on this spot yourself and call out to your roommate: Get down. Your announcement is loud and clear – unfortunately only for humans. But the dog does not understand your behavior. Either he discontentedly clears his favorite spot or he defends his property. So that there are no misunderstandings: It is not a problem if your dog comes to you on the sofa. But it is if you expressly allow it or if the little rascal gets ready on the sofa as a matter of course. So make sure you have clear rules right from the start that anchor the dog in his world of thoughts: The sofa is the place of our pack boss.
The fight for the coveted spot on the sofa is just one example, but it can be applied to many other situations.
We can influence our dog’s thinking through our appearance and behavior if we know the dog world and its pack laws.