The human relationship with the Canine is one that is integral to many people’s lives and has been this way since the dog became domesticated. They now play a huge part in millions of lives across the world as both working dogs and pets and as humans, we feel that we ‘know it all’ when it comes to their behaviour and relationships to ourselves. However, when you delve a little deeper into the issues surrounding our relationship to them its most certainly not as straightforward as we like to think and so, we had a chat with Canine Educator, Mercia Nitzsche, who has her own theories on the relationships and communication methods we have formed with the domestic dog and the role they have in society.
When looking into our relationships with the domestic dog what strikes as the ideal place to start is at the beginning! The dog has become domesticated over a 15,000 year time span and has long been bred for different traits and attributes as our understanding of genetics has evolved. The history of the dog is rather complex, but its social hierarchy and behaviours are inherited from their wolf ancestors, including the complex ‘pack’ mentality of their origins and their body language and behaviours. These behaviours have now evolved with human interaction and behaviours, resulting in a more domesticated animal that we know and love today. Although often misinterpreted by humans, these developed and intellectual beings now live alongside humans in a relatively harmonious domestic set up.
Mercia offers a unique insight into these behaviours and feels ultimately that the way in which we view Canines needs to radically change; “It is all too common for us humans to assume that we know everything when it comes to our animals, when actually a large majority of us misinterpret the animal’s behaviour and therefore act out in the wrong way. I too was once guilty of this misunderstanding and it’s only after years of breeding and being a pet owner that I have learnt to understand the workings of Canines. When owning a dog our preconceptions on the right and wrong way to train and handle them come into play, its only through strong observation and understanding that we can raise them correctly.” Mercia told us.
Having raised dogs since 1978, Mercia feels her understanding of Canine’s has led to a true realisation and wisdom when it comes to their wellbeing and communication. This has resulted in concepts related to dog pack mentality regarding play, truly understanding the way a Canine thinks, and the preservation of the Canine culture with the key, most crucial element of respect. Mercia’s beliefs in Buddhism lay much of the foundation for Mercia’s insight into the animal world; “Buddhists treat the lives of human and non-human animals with equal respect” (www.bbc.co.uk).
This, combined with her understanding of the animal in the natural dog pack world, as well as her love for the species and experience, enables her to have clear views on the way in which Canine’s should be brought up within a domesticated environment; “The main concept for caring for animals is one based almost entirely on respect, if an owner respects their animals they will get nothing but an enjoyable companionship, it may sound harsh to some but I truly believe there is no such thing as a bad animal, they merely have an uneducated owner! Of course, owners can be taught better methods on how to care for their animals effectively – and this is where I come in!”
Mercia is keen to share her knowledge into the relationships and communication we use with our pets and is continuously working to understand ways to help in the hope of giving people a better opportunity to appreciate their pet. With the idea that a greater understanding of one another – both parties in the pet/owner relationship may derive greater joy from each other’s company.
Using a holistic approach to the care of Canines that Mercia heralds comes from looking into the body language, psychic energies and spiritual codes and takes into consideration both the body and mind of the dog; “Any behavioral related issues can be resolved by establishing the state of mind of the dog and by communicating through these unseen channels, thus helping to resolve any issues and clear the Canines mind.” Mercia told us. These methods of resolving pet issues could be considered close to that adopted to treat human issues and this comparison is no coincidence.
“We are derivatives of the animal chain and share many of the same cells, with many people treating their animals as humans in a way that isn’t productive, i.e dressing them up and humanising them. Viewing animals as humans can sometimes be productive however, especially when you consider that we share much of the same emotions as animals such as fear, anxiety, depression, joy and excitement!” Mercia explained. So, by understanding a Canine’s emotion we can look to understand their behaviour and we can often resolve any issues they may have. Common training methods often misinterpret behavioural signals, resulting in a lack of understanding of the dog – and more problems!
Because humans have such a strong influence over the behaviour of animals, when dogs become aggressive or threatening to humans and other dogs it should be considered that the way in which these dogs have learnt to behave has come from their own experiences. Some even trained to behave in this way in a Beware of the Dog scenario, or indeed when humans keep a dog as a ‘weapon’. These dogs are trained in such a way that fear plays a huge factor; “Dogs that attack or are trained to attack do so through no fault of their own, it is always a result of the mistreatment of the animal in some way, by an owner or previous owner. The reaction is a catalyst of the behaviour that has been part of their treatment by humans during their life.” Mercia emphasised. The result of this is often misplaced blame and induces fear in humans – the very species that created these traits in certain dogs.
Behavioural FEAR is a huge factor in the happiness of an animal, like humans if their environment feels safe they can and will thrive in contentment. These behavioural emotions can be resolved with effective training that involves non-aggressive techniques such as clicker training and communication methods. Many typical, old fashioned adopted training methods induce fear in the dog as a result of bad actions, thus continuing the cycle of fear.
So, with all this in mind how does a person become a better owner for their pet? There are many factors to consider and many ways in which you can improve your dog’s way of life including getting to know the history of the Canine and understanding its roots and true behavior, looking at the food you give your dog-is it of good quality and does it contain what your dog needs to lead a healthy, active life? All of these factors combined with the overriding respect and genuine care that you have for your pet will lead to you not only doing your job as its primary carer, but also enhancing the quality of its life.
Having developed the Nitzsche PEPPU technique, also known as Pet World Culture Preservation (PWCP), Mercia is considered as the educator of the future in the canine world and is available to discuss ideas and offer advice on subjects discussed in this article and more to those who would like to be educated that little bit more in the Canine world.
Mercia is not only a Canine educator but also offers animal caring facilities within the Canine Hilton including the following;
• Dog Boarding
• Daily walking
• Dog sitting within your own home
These services enable you to go on breaks, business trips and annual holidays safe in the knowledge that your pet is in very capable hands within their own natural environment. All day-to-day tasks that your animal enjoys will be carried out by your dog carer including feeding times, walking and play. All carers are CRB checked and are trained extensively to ensure you have piece of mind that your pets are in safe hands. The services are also available for other pets such as cats and small pets.
“All our carers have a genuine love and respect for animals and only adopt methods of care that have been approved with the Canine Hilton’s ethos. Kennels can be quite distressing for some animals, especially if they have come to you from a rescue home environment; by keeping your dog within its natural environment you are essentially causing the least impact on the animal’s wellbeing.” adds Mercia.