New scientific research by Dr. John Bradshaw, released in his new book, endorses my own self taught insights into the dog/human relationship and affirms my expert status.
My name is Steven Havers and I am a dog behaviour expert. I will elaborate on that. I am not an expert on dog behaviour between dogs; I am an expert in the behaviour of dogs living with humans.
Why is this different and why is it relevant?
The interaction between dogs that live with dogs has been and continues to be studied as it gives us insights into the canine mind and how it works and how wild dogs think and behave. Domestic dogs are, however very different to their wild counterparts and have adapted their behaviours to try and live with us. So, logic dictates, you cannot apply the knowledge learned from observing and understanding wild dogs to the dog/human relationship as the two are poles apart.
As we and our dogs are both adept at spotting patterns in behaviour and are reactive species, the interaction between our behaviours is critical to our mutual harmony and it is nearly always this very interaction that causes our dogs to behave badly and in ways we do not want or enjoy.
Then we make our biggest yet easiest mistake. We look at the problem and analyse it from a human perspective, as we actually believe our dog should behave like a human.
The relevance of realising the difference in the relationship wild dogs have compared to the relationship we have with our dogs is vital as it is the key to not only understanding our dogs behaviour but then knowing how to change it simply by changing our own.
In my career leading up to being an expert in the dog/human relationship I have experienced all aspects and methods of dog training. My very first dog was an English setter who was beyond my ability then to train and also beyond the scope of the dog training classes I took him to. The understanding of dog training back then was very limited and usually involved a large amount of correction. As my English setter passed, he remained beyond my understanding all of his life; I found my breed and bought a German shepherd with whom I got on with very well. Gain we went to training classes and nothing had changed from the days of my English setter. What had changed was me and the more I saw how dogs were trained and, as I got into advanced training with him, just how much force was used, I had to find another way to communicate with my dog and by spending time with my dogs, I didn’t stop at one, and learning about our relationship and trying different reactions to their behaviour, I slowly understood the basic principle of the dog/human relationship.
That most basic principle is our dogs want to please us; they want to behave the way we ask them. This means their behaviour is reaction driven. They will behave the way we tell them to by how we react to their behaviour.
This is where the human condition works against us as we quickly get into the habit of telling our dogs off for things they do which we don’t want. Because the dog sees this as interaction rewarding, they will do it all the more whilst getting more and more confused and more and more stressed.
If left unchecked this behaviour will escalate to the point it becomes unmanageable and the dog usually is rehomed. It is not the dogs fault it behaves this way, it is yours.
Dogs are very good at learning our routines and associating outcomes to these behavioural patterns and how they behave to these triggers is determined by how we react to them.
So our dogs know what we are going to do because we are such creatures of habit. This is why they get excited when you put your walking shoes on, when you put your work clothes on etc. because they have learned what these signals mean. If your dog starts to stress during these processes and you react to that stress, you are creating a behavioural pattern of unwanted behaviour. If you do not react to the stress and wait for the dog to calm and then you react, you are teaching the association of clam relaxed behaviour with you leaving the house.
We are completely responsible for our dog’s behaviour because we have created it. I have learned this by observation, because I think differently I have learned to look for patterns of behaviour and the triggers within that behaviour. I teach this interaction in my dog behaviour classes, through Home Visits and with intensive residential training and I have earned a very good reputation. I also work with dogs the courts have classed as dangerous and achieved safe and lasting results.