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Freedom vs. Anarchy

Freedom and anarchy are two very different situations that result from two very different approaches to living with a dog.

The owner who desires to give their dog freedom, to let their dog enjoy the world and get the most out of every walk and trip to the park, has every good intention for their dog. But if that owner has not communicated any conditions for these wonderful experiences, the owner is unintentionally creating a world for their dog that is full of greys. A world that allows much and restricts little. A world wherein there is no pattern a dog can discern in the way his owner reacts to situations, stimuli, or environmental cues. A world in which the owner is largely mute and unpredictable.

This world is unstable, and can result in one of two types of dog: a very frightened or unsure dog, or a dog who takes it upon himself to provide the clarity in his life that is lacking.

In contrast, freedom is a privilege that is earned. A dog that knows how to make choices, and understands the predictable outcomes of choices, can be allowed the opportunity to make choices in more and more situations. A dog that consistently makes good choices can be granted more liberty to make those choices.

This can only be accomplished if outcomes to choices are predictable. The owner needs to have clarity in their own mind about how they communicate choices and consequences to the dog. The more consistent and predictable cause and effect are for the dog, the quicker the dog will learn. The more consistent and predictable the dog’s world is, the less confused the dog will be, and the more a dog’s natural inclination to gamble on outcomes will be mitigated. (We want our dogs to gamble! But always and only on the behaviors we like and want.)

A dog who has earned freedom is a dog who is reliable. A dog who has earned freedom is a dog who has clear connection and good balance with his owner. A dog with freedom is a dog who understands and is at peace with his world.

So we dog owners need to ask ourselves: am I allowing instability and anarchy? Or am I rewarding my dog’s hard work with freedom?

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