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The Canine Social Dynamic Becoming “Jane”

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“Imagine for a moment that you and 20 other people were stranded on an island far from civilization. Suddenly the concerns for food, shelter and protection from potential predators flood your emotions. As you look around trying to gather some sense of what action to take, it becomes clear that some people are taking this realization of state in a variety of ways. Some people seem to be disconnected while others are in absolute panic.

One person in particular is brought into focus. She is sitting just outside the group, very calm and collected. Her presence attracts other members of the group to notice as well. Upon approaching her, it is learned that her name is Jane and that she is a military-trained survivalist.

This knowledge is shared with the group and the anxiety and tension produced by this environmental state is significantly reduced. The individuals know they are not equipped for this situation but Jane’s calm demeanor and knowledge assure them that she does. Jane is elected leader of the newly formed group.

Jane quickly continues to stabilize the group by instructing jobs for each member. Some learn to gather food and building materials. While others are instructed to make items and provide security.

Now that all the members have jobs, the expectation will be for each member to provide a daily productivity stipend in order to obtain the daily allotment of resources. If the daily production is not met, the resources for them that day will be withheld.

In order to further reduce anxiety from covetous behaviors, Jane will also closely mediate resource exchange in situations that require more than the usual allotment. This will ensure that resources are used as intended for the benefit of the group and not the individual member.”

In a dog social group, only the lead pair is allowed to breed. The anxiety of this may be too much for some members and they would peacefully exit the primary group for a chance to breed, always with the understanding that they could return to the primary pack should this effort prove to be too difficult. In this “Jane” example, sometimes the people are not feeling emotionally satisfied by the associations with the group for whatever reason.  So, they seek stability in other groups or they join others of similar feeling from the primary group and form a new secondary group.

So what’s the point of stringing this analogy you ask? The foundation of a dog is co-operative. The lead pair/breeding pair is, for lack of a better term, elected. The group raises the puppies as a group. All roles are transitional. Old, injured and sick animals are cared for by the group. Transitions into and out of the primary group are voluntary rather than a violent exchange.  When we experience aggression in dogs in captivity, it is most often out of fear simple because no one in their eyes has stepped up to protect their basic needs of safety and security.

You have just brought home your new puppy or mature companion.  Now is the time for you to become……

“Jane”.

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