dogs & humans- almost perfect together

Alike, But Different

"What's the truth as your dog sees it?"

Pat Whitacre: Trainer, Behaviorist, Mentor, Colleague, Friend

I've been a around a lot of dogs in my life. But it wasn't until I became an Explosives Detection K9 Handler that I understood the importance of listening to, understanding and trusting my dog. I learned not just to look, but observe. I learned not just to hear, but to listen. I learned not just to recognize, but to understand. Most importantly, I learned that my K9 Sanders and I were companions, partners, and friends. I learned how to "speak dog", I became part dog. 

HUMANS: There are many facets to what is described as the human condition: our many emotions, our ego, our beliefs. For eons, humans have thought of yourselves as the "king of the world", the smartest of all living things with a steadfast belief that we and we alone are the best of all species. This has been epitomized in how we've lived with our canine companions, among others. We've been told that we are the "Master", the "Alpha", and that we must exert our dominance over them in order for our dogs to respect us, please us, listen to us and behave as they're commanded. Many still believe that our dogs try and "dominate" us which then begs the question: if our dogs are dependent on us for all of their needs, then how could they "dominate" us? We have imposed on our dogs an impossible standard: be friends with every person and dog, listen, understand and respond perfectly to our every command without hesitation and never, ever make a mistake. Ironically, this is a standard we'd never impose nor expect of ourselves because we know that humans aren't perfect- go figure.

DOGS: Peer reviewed, qualified and quantified science tells us:

  • that canis familiaris  (domestic dogs) as a whole are the least confrontational of all species. 
  • that definitively dogs are NOT canis lupus (wolves) though they were domesticated from social wolves 15000-3000 years ago.
  • that a wolfpack is strictly a familial group consisting of the breeding pair and offspring. They do everything together with a natural leadership born of parenting, not seeking dominance one over the other. 
  • that groups of dogs may form loose horizontal hierarchies that are very fluid. 
  • that the process of domestication has created a species that has forgotten how to share and have had some base primal instincts suppressed. 
  • that when dogs are outside, they can possibly smell and hear out to 3 miles in a 360 degree radius (depending on weather conditions).
  • that dogs have night vision near as well as cats and can also see in the ultraviolet light spectrum. 
  • that dogs have a deeper set of emotions than originally believed and that they're ability to react to these emotions is on par with our own. 
  • that the mature canine brain has the cognitive skill level of a 30 month old child. 
  • that domestic dogs have a value system and instincts that are different than ours.