Thursday, November 16, 2023
We all have needs! But do we know what WE need or what Our DOGS need?
All animals, including humans, have some basic needs; food, water, shelter, or other needs to survive physically. These basic needs get met or animals die, plain & simple. I'd like to focus on the needs that help us thrive or excel in life instead of merely surviving. These needs become more complicated because they are very individualized from animal to animal. We all need exercise, but the level of exercise I need is going to be different than a younger, healthier human.
We all need places and connections with other animals where we feel safe. In a perfect world we can hope we would all feel safe at home, work, school or any place we need to be regularly. Yet we all know the world is not perfect and many humans and other animals lack the ability to feel safe in the environment they are in. Absolute safety simply isn't possible in a world where hazards are everywhere. That is where connection with other animals fits in. Hopefully we all have made at least a few connections with other people or animals that help us feel safe. I try really hard to make the Yooper Paws Training Center be a place of safety for everyone while they are there and this branches out to all the social media groups we run as well.
Getting back to the needs...some of us humans find other humans safe, while some of us might feel more safe with our dogs. Some might need lots of safe connections, while others might prefer a just a few safe connections. The need very quickly becomes individualized.
There are many other needs that animals have including a need to learn or better ourselves, whether that's increasing our health, feeling of safety, confidence of survival, etc.
Switching gears a bit let's look at how we express our needs. Pretty much everyone here recognizes the basic behaviors that happen when we or other animals feel fear; fight, flight, fear, etc. We also probably recognize when another animal is feeling joy or happiness. It can be easier to recognize the needs of other humans because we have words to communicate most needs. But dogs don't have words, they only have behaviors.
If you haven't noticed yet, all needs stem from a physical survival need or an emotional thriving need. The extreme emotional reactions are easily noticed, but also very hard to change, for both humans & dogs. We often recognize a base line in the middle where the animal spends most of their time, physically and emotionally. Yet we often fail to notice the behavior that happens as our dogs start to have elevated stress hormones caused by stronger emotional reactions.
If you want more to know more on Emotional States, check out this previous blog: Emotional States of Dogs and watch for the next blog that's going to be highlighting micro signals and how we can notice emotional changes in our dogs before they become extreme enough to encounter outbursts.
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