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Learning About Dogs

I think that one of the most important truths in all areas of life is that if you ever get to the point where you think you know it all, you are finished as a seeking, learning, person.
 Not only will you stagnate, but you will become defensive, dogmatic, and will in fact go backwards. If you cannot take on new and in some cases, differing, ideas – whether you see value in them, or whether you explore them and decide they are not valid – your mind will be closed, and learning stops.  You then have to make a stand.  Any new idea, any new take on an established "truth” must immediately be trashed – if not, if there could be a better way than your set in stone "bible”, where does that leave you?
Nobody can ever say they know it all and that there is no way they can improve – and when you bring another living, thinking, creature with a mind of its own into the frame, there are endless opportunities for winding up with egg on your face if you cannot be flexible and have a large degree of humility.
I am a devout believer in Pure Dog Listening.  I have lived a lifetime with dogs, and sometimes experience, (and countless experiences), with a multitude of dogs in a multitude of situations, are essential to really appreciate and understand what is playing out before your eyes.  If you do not have the empathy which living with these creatures brings, you can LOOK but not really SEE.
As I have said, I believe absolutely in the core principles of PDL, but reading the thoughts, studies, and sometimes the lifelong exploration of different aspects of dog (and wolf) behaviour, of authors such as David Mech, John Bradshaw, Mark Bekoff, Turid Rugass, John Fisher, Roger Abrantes, Temple Grandin, has given me such confidence to continue to explore, because in addition to nothing they say going counter to the principles of PDL,  many observations support my more "out of the box” ideas, and encourage me to have faith in my instinctive interpretation of some aspects of canine behaviour – even if others may not always agree.
On some occasions my line of thought has turned out to be extremely wrong, and I’ll hold my hands up, but if you never try, you can never fail, and humans would still be living in caves!  These clever and talented people are learning all the time and are not afraid to admit if they get it wrong – so why should it bother me?
My latest "read” is The Genius of Dogs by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods.  This book is another of the "greats” for me.
Even the thoughts of those I wholeheartedly DISAGREE with are valuable – these people reinforce my belief in my personal choices.
I have a deep distrust of those who feel the need to attack a different way of doing things to theirs.  If you think your way is the best, then surely you would have the confidence to discuss the differing ideas of those who do not see things quite as you do - without aggression?  Who knows?  You may learn something!
I think the proof of the validity of PDL is that having looked at the myriad views, applications, and techniques of dog training, having absorbed a much wider range of explanations for behaviour and how to deal with that behaviour, having embraced the good and used it to help me reach dogs in a better way, and having discarded the dross, having hugely expanded my understanding of the many factors which influence behaviour, I can still look at the core elements of PDL and find them 100% sound, a perfect bedrock to work from, a perfect base from which I can continue to learn.
If you have a rock solid foundation, you can build whatever you wish.

JULY 1ST, 2013 @ 15:21:25 BST


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