We believe that almost any dog is able to be rehabilitated with the proper leadership and basic understanding of the inter-species communication between dog and human. We specialize in a communication model that mimics the natural pack behavior of canines and produces the most effective approach. We understand that dogs are genetically programmed to exist within a pack structure, which includes the leader or alpha, to whom dogs are designed to follow. The inter-species connection between dog and human is most successful when we can interact and speak in a common language. Since dogs only understand a limited number of words, it is the most advantageous and necessary to relate to a dog in his own language, using body language and rules of conduct that maximize this inter-species communication. Following these specific rules of conduct, which involves the human acting as a confident, calm, stable pack leader, dogs are naturally encouraged to react with calm, submissive behavior. By taking advantage of our understanding of nature, we get dogs to follow us willingly. We teach owners how to behave and communicate with their dogs in the way in which dogs are programmed to respond. This naturally evokes the desired behavior we want relatively effortlessly.
We also believe that humans are responsible for ensuring proper canine behavior. While dogs certainly have individual personalities, there are no 'bad' dogs. We have found that behavioral problems in dogs are directly related to their experience with humans, with a very rare exception being genetic. Dogs are not aggressive on their own, nor are they anxious or fearful without a reason. Often, humans don't adequately understand why a dog is behaving in a certain way, and are equally unaware of how they inadvertently caused that behavior. There is no blame to be assigned. It is common not to be cognizant of the nuances, meaning, and implications of the inter-species communication that is occurring. Being literate in the canine language and therefore aware of what our behavior and energy is communicating, is necessary to ensure the best for our dogs. As the caretakers of the dogs in our life, it is our duty to take responsibility for what our behavior and energy has sometimes unknowingly conveyed to our pet....and to take responsibility for making different choices to enable our dogs to be calm, submissive, happy members of our pack.
Fundamental Principles For Success:
There are two principles of the dog-human interaction that are imperative for happy, healthy, well-adjusted dogs. All the other components and nuances of the inter-species communication follow from these two tenets.
BEING THE ALPHA
Dogs are pack animals that rely on the pack for survival. They hunt, eat, sleep, and travel as a group. The pack structure includes an alpha, who leads the pack, who the rest follow without questioning their authority. Dogs do not resent the leader, nor do they strive to achieve alpha status the way a human strives to improve their professional status. Dogs need this structure to survive and it is therefore hard-wired into their brain to 'follow the leader' with absolute allegiance (loyalty, commitment, dedication). When we bring a dog into our family, the dog reacts as they would with a pack. We become the dog's pack and they look for an alpha. If we do not step into the role of alpha, the dog is genetically programmed to take over that position. While we can rather easily learn to be effective alphas for our dogs, dogs make terrible alphas for our human family. Dogs are not equip to navigate our human world and therefore when your dog is acting as alpha, chaos can ensue. Dogs acting as alpha in our domesticated world will react with a myriad of undesirable behaviors and emotional responses, including but not limited to: nervousness, anxiety, inappropriate guarding, excessive barking, hyper vigilance, resource (food, toy, people) guarding, dog aggression, growling at strangers.
Dogs NEED their human family to create a stable pack by acting as the alpha. This is essential for their well being.
You are not being mean, cold, heartless, or less loving by giving your dogs rules and discipline. In the canine world, being led by an alpha is comforting and silently communicates a sense of security. People who become alpha provide their dogs with the kindest, loving, supportive, safe environment possible. Often people want to lavish their dogs with love, especially after they have rescued a dog with a tragic past. Humans tend to want to make up for the past by giving the dog every comfort available. Unfortunately, providing love first and being alpha second, if at all, will actually be less loving and comforting for the dog. It is of utmost importance that we recognize and respect that dogs are a different species with the obligatory different needs. It is selfish to minimize or nullify the genetics of a dog and ignore their canine needs. Dogs have a innate NEED for an alpha; discipline, rules, and structure are mandatory to their welfare and happiness. One of the very traits we love about our dogs- their loyalty and devotion to the family- is the very one that we need to respect and understand.
A dog has the ability to read the energy of a situation and the people involved. Everyone puts off an energy that is constantly changing as our emotions, experiences, and personalities flux. Interestingly, what a person puts out on the outside for others to see, is not what a dog would perceive. Dogs are able to instantly discern what a person consciously or unconsciously feels INSIDE. Dogs respond to the energy of a person or situation before they respond to any verbal cues. What feels safe and secure to a dog is calm, stable energy, which is what a good leader feels like in the canine world. If a person is highly emotional, whether it is anger, depression, grief, or another unsettling emotion, dogs feel that person as insecure weak energy. We are not suggesting that a person needs to ONLY feel calm and centered to be a good dog owner and leader. This would be impossible and doesn't honor our unique human expression. Emotions are normal and perfectly acceptable. However, when a particular emotion dominates for an extended period of time, that will translate to your dog and effect your canine relationship.
Dogs respond to our energy and need calm, secure, confident energy from a person to trust following as a leader. Dogs react to how we feel inside, not what we project outside.
The ability of a dog to respond to the energy we transmit needs to be examined so that we can better comprehend why and how dogs react to us. Our first principle for having a healthy relationship with our dogs mandates that we are good alphas or leaders. Now that we know that our dogs are responding to our silent cues, we can better understand how to be good leaders. Good leaders feel calm and secure to a dog. When we are feeling unsettled or doubt our ability to be an effective leader, we are putting off an energy that is incompatible with leadership. If we get frustrated at the dog or ourselves in our canine interaction, we will not be felt as a safe leader that the dog will follow. If we feel guilty or 'bad' for being in charge of the dog and giving rules and discipline, the dog will feel uncomfortable by your energy and not trust following you as his leader. Similarly, if a dog encounters a new person and they feel scared, which can often occur when we deal with the giant power breeds, the dog will react with fear as well. In this situation, we have a person feeling anxious of the huge, black-brindle dog with cropped ears who is approaching them, afraid that the dog will hurt them or be dangerous In response, the dog will encounter the human and feel terror, feeling the canine equivalent of ' if that human is scared, something fearful must be about to happen and now I'm really scared'. When the dog reacts by growling, the human will get more uncomfortable...as will the dog and now we have an interaction that is in no way positive for either of them.
It can be difficult for humans to understand how a dog is so perceptive to the energy of the situation. Most people have had the experience of living with a family member and walking in the door and just knowing the emotional landscape. Before anyone says a thing, we can tell that dad is mad, sister is sad, or mom has had a really bad day. Humans have the same skill as dogs, however, we rely on our other senses far more heavily, rarely exercising our intuition and energy-sensing skills. Dogs respond to the energy of the situation and the people FIRST, with the energy carrying more importance than sight or sound. A dog is able to determine instantly, often quicker than you may realize yourself, what emotions you are feeling. So, when you are practicing being a leader, a dog is able to discern whether you are feeling scared, insecure, confident underneath your verbal commands. Just like a child is able to tell when a parent 'really means it', a dog is able to determine if you mean it.
When applying these concepts, recognize that you are learning a new mode of communicating with your pet. Be honest with yourself about what you are feeling, which allows you to address the areas in the inter-species communication that need improvement. Being patient with yourself is equally important, as you learn a new way of interacting, as well as a new language for communicating. Getting help by a trained professional that is knowledgeable and skilled at the inter-species communication is often invaluable. An outside perspective can also help by pointing out issues that are difficult to see when you are emotionally attached to your pet. The precious relationship with your dog can be greatly enhanced by learning this new way of communicating. Our goal is to help humans become effective leaders of their dogs. By creating a partnership based on a mutually understood language with concrete alpha roles for the humans, we can take responsibility for producing a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog. We are able to give our dogs a greater sense of security and confidence by acknowledging their canine needs, and supplying a family 'pack' structure that maximizes our interaction. AHAS knows that successful lifelong relationships between all families and their dogs are possible with a greater understanding and practice of these basic guidelines. We are happy to help foster this relationship with anyone interested in participating in the process of responsible dog ownership