In Defence Of Dogs – by John Bradshaw

Luckily for all us dog owners out there, John Bradshaw, one of the world’s leading experts on dog behaviour, has written a new book, defending our beloved pets. Animal behaviourist, John Bradshaw is a biologist who founded and directs the world-renowned Anthrozoology Institute, which is based at the University of Bristol. He has written several best selling books on dog behaviour including Dog Sense and brings his unique knowledge on the subject as he has studied the behaviour of domestic dogs and their owners for over 25 years. He has also written many scientific articles, research papers and reviews, which have not only shed new light on the dog’s abilities and needs, but have also changed the way that dogs are understood and cared for all over the world.

Bradshaw believes that dogs in this day and age are in a crisis state as many years ago, they worked for their living and were breed for certain tasks, these days they are kept as companions and certain traits in their breeding have become a nuisance or at best, neglected. As we have domesticated them we have failed to properly understand their needs and as such, problems have occurred which lead to owners abandoning them in shelters, unable to cope. There are many explanations as to why dogs are not coping in this new environment and as many theories as to how we should solve this problem. Bradshaw reasons that an ordinary dog wishes nothing more than to be a member of a family and actually prefers human company to that of his dog companions.

He suggests that dogs are not wolves in dogs clothing, ready to assume alpha status and dominate the household, nor should they be seen as accessories ready to trot out at dog shows. There are also cultural differences between the way dogs are treated. There is a great difference between the way the West view dogs and the Far East for example. His research has shown that guide dogs are less well accepted in Japan than they are in the West and dogs are used for food in many eastern countries, they are not seen as domesticated pets.

Bradshaw has spent much of his career debunking bad advice given to dog owners and comments that we give our dogs unrealistic goals and have high expectations of how they should behave, despite thousands of years of breeding them to do certain tasks. The problem lies herein as many pet dogs live in social and urban environments and are expected to be better behaved than the average human child but as self-reliant as adults. The dogs still have their natural instincts that were breed into them but now they have to ignore them and are admonished if they ‘misbehave’. Some dogs are still used for these breeding traits such as the collie who works herding sheep. A pet collie who tries to herd children and chases bicycles is an owner’s nightmare. Bradshaw explains in this book that this is the unrealistic standard to which many humans hold their dogs. If you ever wanted a greater insight into what dogs are, what makes them tick and what they would ask us for if only they knew how, then this is the book for you.

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