Everything we do has consequences; some are trivial and others more serious. If that goes for life in general, it certainly also goes for our interactions with our companion animals. As to the latter, I found it helpful to ask the three following questions as a rule of thumb.
1. What do I give my animal, and what do I take? (What does my animal give me, and what does it take?)
2. What am I teaching the animal?
3. How does my animal (probably) interpret my behavior?
The relationship we have with anyone, including our companion animals, is the relationship we have created. It’s as simple as that, and it is our responsibility to build a relationship that will serve all parties best. Ignorance is no excuse. If we don’t know how to do it, we must take our time and learn.
Dog owners create the majority of the problem behavior of their dogs, for they reinforce those same behaviors, never giving it a thought. Owners cause excessive barking, home alone problems, and even many biting cases, fear, and phobias because they didn’t reflect upon the consequences of their behavior when responding to their dogs. The same applies to all other animals we keep as companion animals. It’s easier to see it in dogs because we live with them 24-7 in our homes. We share a significant part of our daily lives with them, and consequently, they adopt many of our bad habits—or rather, attitude toward life.
Everything we do has consequences. That should be no surprise for anyone. Our ancestors knew it all too well. Back then, second chances were rarely an option. In our times, we often act without considering the consequences of our actions in earnest because we live highly protected lives in the western world, where we get away with much more than others living less protected (or spoiled) lives. We will always have a second chance if we get it wrong—or so we believe. We have grown accustomed to pressing the ‘reset’ buttons in our technological marvels and created the false belief that we can also reset life. Accordingly, we tend to forget that, indeed, everything we do has consequences.
We pass this indifference of ours to our companion animals, affecting them with our frivolity, inconsistency, and irresponsibility. The result in the long term is the emergence of maybe unsolvable issues, which were, though, at one time avoidable if only we had given them a thought.
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