Canine Communication Workshop December 2016

In December 2016, Dr Renee hosted a Canine Communication workshop, led by Jenny Golsby of Complete Canine Communication in Brisbane.

Jenny is a ‘dog trainer’, although she no longer calls herself this, who has trained under Turid Rugaas, an amazing dog trainer from Norway.  Through many years of experience and learning, Jenny has developed a depth of understanding of dogs like no other, and her techniques and wisdom reflect this.

The workshop was hosted on a small acreage property in Ninderry, across the road from Mt Ninderry walking trails, over two days.

The first day was all the theory – discussing the basic needs of dogs (that are often completely misunderstood) and how to accommodate these so that our canines can feel like a valued and respected member of their human pack.

Jenny outlined a 6-step plan to improve communication with dogs and ensure dogs understand the manners required of them in order to co-exist peacefully with their humans.  We covered topics such as how to have your dog rest happily at home when left alone, how to encourage good manners both in the home and when out and about, calm feeding routines and natural diets, how to deal with threats and barking, how to ensure walking is a comfortable, relaxed and pleasant experience for dogs (and for their humans on the other end of the leash), and how to incorporate nosework into your dog’s skill repertoire (and why you should!).

One example of the simplicity of Jenny’s wisdom is how she engaged the dogs in a social walking experience on the second day, when we all got to put the theory into practice.  Rather than allowing all the dogs to meet and greet first up, which raises excitement (and therefore cortisol – the stress hormone) levels, she kept all the dogs at a safe distance, allowing them the time and space to be curious about the environment and the dogs around them, without actually approaching and greeting.  All dogs were fitted with a comfortable Haqihana walking harness, and a long-leash walking technique was demonstrated for people to learn how to allow their dog some freedom and curiosity when out walking, instead of expecting to be in charge and keep their dogs at heel at all times.  After a period of time peacefully co-existing, the dogs were then brought together on the mountain trails, still with some distance between them, and a social walk was experienced by all.  It was calm, it was mindful, and it was a completely novel experience for most!

I was thinking afterward how unnatural it is to expect our dogs to meet lots of different dogs when out and about all the time.  In the wild, this simply would not happen.  Dogs or wolves would travel together with their pack (their FAMILY) .  They would live together, hunt together, explore together, and any other dog encroaching on their territory would be considered a threat and reacted to accordingly.

This doesn’t mean we can’t ever allow our dogs to meet other dogs again, but it does mean that in most cases, our expectations of dogs are too high, and are not aligned with their natural instincts.  We expect to be able to march past other dogs, at a ‘fitness’ pace, with dogs walking ‘politely’ at our heel on a short leash, usually wearing a very uncomfortable collar/head halter/harness. In dog language, walking head on, at a fast pace, and making eye contact with another dog is all very confrontational and impolite!  No wonder we see so many reactive dogs on leash!  This is just one example of how we can completely misunderstand dogs and their language.
If you are seeking a peaceable easy relationship with your dog that is based in understanding, respect and empathy, then we highly recommend you join us on this path, by contacting Jenny Golsby and attending one of her workshops in Brisbane.  You can find Event details on her website: completepet.com.au
If you would prefer to attend a workshop here on the Sunshine Coast, please email hello@thanaturalvets.com.au to register your interest for upcoming events and we will keep you informed of future dates.