Across the melting pot, we all struggle with this particular issue. From friends, spouses, and kids to dogs, cats, and rabbits, it’s all about learning how to treat each other and what is deemed respectful and appropriate. Between cultures, there are so many types of discipline, each with a different outcome, each growing and molding a different personality. Before I begin, I want to stress that I am in no way intending to TELL you how to treat your animal. This is just some insight that I have gained through the seven foster dogs I have had so far.
While this post is mainly going to be centered on animals, I absolutely believe that there are concepts that can be taken into human-to-human relationships. Looking to the animals is key in understanding how to treat them, so I believe in using a list of their characteristics in explaining how. One, and a very important concept, is to be silent.
I think that we can all agree that to be silent and to listen are two different things, yet they depend on each other in a way. When I am talking to Duncan, he makes it clear that me more language I use, the less he will focus on what I’m asking. He has taught me that if I’m not silent, I’m not listening to him and not understanding what he has to say. I can’t even begin to imagine the frustration I would feel at not having the verbal capability to say “I need to go to the bathroom man!” or in some cases “Please don’t beat me.” Being a human and getting tied up in everyday obligations, I lose track of time. When I’m late for “potty time” Duncan rings the bells at the door and lets me know, but they have body language just as clear as a human’s. It’s important to be silent and learn how to read your dog and their “I have to go to the bathroom” walk. In other words, instead of yelling “What do you want?” be quiet, pay attention, and let them show you.
The second key is, this is going to sound crazy at first but bear with me. It is important to be like them. What a lot of people don’t realize is that it is crucial to bridge the (what most perceive as huge) gap between human and animal. Be able to think the way that they think, and training will be a piece of cake. These animals aren’t stupid; they are little Einsteins without voices and opposable thumbs. Sure, we’ve got our calculators and our other technologies. But how about we try to predict natural disasters, and sense positive and negative energies using pure intuition? There are some quiet looks that Duncan gives me that say “I know all the mysteries of the world, but I can’t tell you.”
The third, and big in fostering rescues, is to understand their history. I can’t stress how important this is. I’ve been hearing about people adopting and giving up a rescue because it’s “just not what they were looking for.” Yeah? Well I am sorry that a beaten, starved, neglected dog that is trying to understand love is not your perfect breeder’s puppy. Not only are you giving up on something that is more pure than most people in this world, you are teaching it a learned-helplessness and encouraging a deeper sense of instability. Dogs from the rescue are exactly that: rescued. The absolute least we can do to understand why they have learned to bite or growl instead of just signing them off “dangerous” right away. A big part of why dogs are “dangerous” is because of people. Let me say that again but make it more clear; it’s not the breed of dog that makes it aggressive, it’s what it is taught. So if you want to jump to the conclusion that Pits, German Shepherds, etc. bite people and are mean, then it would make sense to say women are born violent killers. Good luck surviving.
One day during one of our walks, Duncan and I were running uphill when I stepped in the biggest pile of dirt and sand. I tugged him to a halt so I could dust off one of my flats, but he slowed down instead of stopping. Again, and more clearly this time, I commanded a halt in which he finally did obey. I took off my shoe and shook it in the air to clean out the inside, then slapped it on the ground to dust off the outside. As soon as my shoe hit the grass, Duncan went buck-wild. Immediately, I put the pieces together and listened to him tell me (more like show me) a piece of his past. It was sad. All I could do was hold the guy to settle him down. It got me observing him more, studying how he does and reacts to certain things. In everything they do, they are explaining themselves, showing us pieces of their past, and giving us insight on the things that have both scarred and softened their hearts.
What are some types of discipline that work in your home?