Since myself and my other half got our dogs we have been on a journey
of discovery. We’ve had to learn so much about dog care, nutrition,
socialisation and behaviour. What we’ve discovered is that dogs are a
lot more work than you might expect - and lot more costly too!
Our greatest challenge without doubt has been behaviour. Our younger
dog Bailey has issues with puppies and also, more alarmingly, with
children. Our older dog Annie seems to just have social issues with
greeting other dogs.
The most enlightening piece of advice we have been given recently is
that whatever the dogs unwanted behaviour the reasoning is always to
do with the dog’s needs not being met. This really got me thinking.
What was it that our dogs needed that made them behave in the way they
did? Well that’s the $64m question. For some behaviour it’s security,
other behaviour is due to a lack of social grace, other times it’s
resource guarding. The observation certainly isn’t the silver bullet
to our problems but it at least allows us to put our focus where it is
actually needed - the dog! Every time we have an issue we ask - ‘What
did our dog need in that situation?’
This got me thinking about human behaviour and if it could be
categorised in the same way. I think it can. Think of unruly children,
shouting, being rude, being anti-social or even violent. It’s easy to
judge them whether they are toddlers or teenagers by blaming the
parents or labelling them as scum.
But apply the thought above and ask what needs might they have that
aren’t being met.
Maybe their parents haven’t given them guidelines, parameters or been
good role models. Maybe the school system has let them down by not
motivating them - after all everyone’s different and just because you
are not excited by the education system as it stands shouldn’t mean
you’re automatically not worth teaching. Rudolph Steiner’s system
certainly has a better record for pupil engagement than the state
This train of thought can then be applied to adults which act contrary
to our laws or values. Our prisons are full of people who didn’t
comply with the general populace’s view of a civil society. But, has
our society failed to meet their needs in some way? A large percentage
of inmates are illiterate which kind of suggests that at the education
stage we are letting down a lot of children to the degree that we are
breeding adults that have little opportunity to engage in our society
in the conventional way. They then feel excluded and a proportion turn
So, the next time you find yourself quick to judge someone else, first
ask the question: ‘What needs might they have that aren’t being met?’
It will pose deeper questions about our so called ‘civil’ society.
The next time you find yourself feeling less than positive about your life
turn the question inward and ask 'What Needs Do I Have That Aren't Being Met?.
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