One of the biggest mistakes that dog owners can make is assuming that their dogs feel and think like people do. This can lead us to humanize our dogs by attributing our own needs and motivations to their behavior. As a consequence, we can become reluctant to discipline or correct our dogs, because we’re afraid of hurting their feelings or creating resentment.
This Natural Dog Law teaches us that canines do not work that way. Yes, they do have emotions, but they differ from ours. Dogs’ emotions are rooted in the moment and are an immediate reaction to what’s happening right now. Dogs don’t regret the past or worry about the future. They’re only thinking about the present: Is this thing in my environment friendly or a threat? Should I fight, flee, or avoid?
That’s the biggest difference between humans and dogs. We’re constantly shifting between our intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions. But dogs live solely in an instinctual world, and it is up to us as Pack Leaders to meet them there.
As dogs react instinctually to the things around them, they’re also aware of our emotions, by reading our energy. When we’re calm, they’re calm. When we aren’t calm, they sense our unbalanced energy and will naturally avoid us or become unsettled themselves.
In a dog pack, unbalanced dogs are quickly corrected or, if they don’t become balanced, rejected. Our dogs can’t exactly reject us, but they can do everything possible to avoid us when we aren’t calm ‘ or to act out their discomfort. Behavior problems arise.
Because dogs are instinctual and live in the moment, we can’t correct their behavior like we can with children or even adults. Because dogs are instinctually attracted to calm and assertive leaders, whether human or canine, we must get in touch with our own instinctual side and become calm and assertive. That’s much more effective than trying to ‘reason’ with your dog or making emotional appeals.
Follow the First Law by honoring your dog’s instincts. Let your dog be a dog, and learn to follow your instincts instead of your intellect.