In the social sciences, behavioral sciences, behavioral finance, psychology, and maybe a few more disciplines, including the likes of canine behavioral sciences, there exists the Ostrich Effect.
It is the attempt made by a person to avoid information that they may not be ready to absorb, hear, or know. It is the Ostrich burying its head in the sand to avoid danger, the unknown, the ‘don’t even want to know’ behavior.
It is avoidance, almost all of the time, of what is really happening verses what a person would like to believe is happening. Let that simmer in your brain for a bit.
Now the Ostrich doesn’t really bury its head, it just looks that way when they tend to the nest, but nonetheless, the Ostrich it is.
In the dog world, whether I am talking about behavior, training, nutrition, exercise, gear, or management, I witness on a pretty consistent basis, people pushing away figuratively or literally.
Often times it is a well intentioned person wanting change with their dog, but not wanting to change in order to see change. It is wanting change, just cuz. And when I deliver the information of what change is necessary, well just shoot the messenger, or go bury your head and avoid what you don’t want to know.
During the past fifteen years the number of times I have been told that a ‘dog situation’ is unique, uncommon, or extremely difficult, is too many to count. And the reality is, none of them have been that unique, most are super common, and none are that difficult, it is just that the avoidance of real information was so cemented, that change could never really happen. So the situations steam roll forward, escalate over time, and avoidance becomes the norm.
The catalyst for real change is always solid information, and the ability to apply the information into action. This takes, time, effort, and desire.
So if you ask me about canine nutrition I will tell you about real species specific nutrition, sans marketing, what I know and what I am learning, and helpful resources. And I will also tell you that if you feed a diet not intended for a canine, you will build disease and behavioral issues.
And if you ask me about training and what I think about electricity to train, or under ground electric fences, I will tell you they are crap, detrimental to your relationship with your dog, and harmful over the long run. Harming an animal to teach them something about the human world isn’t necessary, and there is a mountain of empirical data that backs this up, but truly, common sense, compassion, and a heart beat should be enough. Time, desire, effort, and curiosity to work with another living being should be enough.
If you tell me you need your dog to have certain behaviors by a certain time because it would be convenient for your life style and the plans you have coming up, I will tell you that dogs are not convenient. Dogs are living beings, and therein lies the difference, just that. Dogs can be that messy type of time consuming love that will inconveniently interrupt the most planned out of schedules. So change to way you do things or change the way you feel about it.
When you show up with your new, sweet, cute as buttons Beagle, Malamute, Coonhound, Karelian Bear Dog, or Husky/Wolf Dog mix, and tell me your #1 goal is to hike off leash with your puppy, I will tell you without hesitation, ‘not with this dog’. I will tell you about training, the time involved, the benefits, your dogs genetic instincts, and provide you with resources so you learn about what you really own, not what you want to think you own. And hopefully, if you care to listen, I will help inspire you to learn more, do more, and love your dog for who they are not what you want them to be.
So for today, and maybe an exercise for everyday, try to face information head on. Listen, observe, digest, rest on it for a bit, and then take action for better health, optimal nutrition, physical, social, and emotional well-being. Every day we have the opportunity to learn something new, and over time to put it into practice, for ourselves and our dogs.