The Need for Safety in Learning

Jan 4, 2021 | Uncategorized

safety dog training

If an animal is trying to communicate that he feels unsafe, then some other solution should be found rather than adding pressure through the use of food © Can Stock Photo / Virgonira

It is worth noting that in environments where basic needs cannot easily be met, it is easier to capture feral animals. An animal who is starving or dying of thirst or needs shelter will move into potentially unsafe situations in order to satisfy the basic need(s).

By contrast, in a resource rich environment, if the animal has ready access to food, shelter and water, they may consistently avoid any situations that make them feel unsafe, such as a bowl of food placed in a humane trap.

we can artificially elevate a resource to such intensity that an animal may be willing to move past their need of safety. This is a frequent occurrence with intensely food motivated dogs who can be lured into situations they would not enter voluntarily in the absence of food.

Whenever we are intensifying the lure or depriving the animal of fulfillment of basic needs, we need to rethink our strategies in the light of the need for safety rather than our goals as trainers. As soon as someone recommends, “Get higher value treats!” I am instantly on alert for why that is necessary. If the animal is telling us they feel unsafe, then some other solution must be found, not adding pressure through the use of food.

(Issue 45, November 2020, pp.19-21). Read article