What is the ‘DOG Pleasure principle’ and the 3 things they NEED for TRUE fulfilment
Pleasure is at the heart of everything every animal does, after survival needs are met.
Maslow’s hierarchy and common sense suggests that once our basic needs for survival are met, then many of the smarter animals show many hedonistic treats – the pursuit of pleasure, in our leisure times. But what is the ULTIMATE pleasure, besides the obvious?
Pleasure brings endorphins and feelings of elation and happiness, pain brings bad feelings, we recoil and don’t do it again. These two concepts are at the heart of wildly divergent dog training methods. Positive reward, negative reinforcement etc.
But what is the TRUE pleasure principle for a dog?
What are they geared to enjoy. What is hard-wired in, for survival and pleasure?
If you consider the dog to have the mental capabilities of a five-year-old human, they are clearly capable of many emotions. But this is what I believe the secret equation to a dog’s happiness:
DOG PLEASURE = PLAY + Food + Love
IT might seem obvious – but all three of the main components of dog pleasure are centred on FOOD. And this is why FOOD is the key to their lives:
1 DOG PLAY
If you see dogs play as puppies they can really go hard in the rough and tumble. Its all learning to be social and how far they can push a bite etc. And after they reach maturity, most dogs are neutered so that they can play safely off lead in dog parks. Play is vital to a dogs well being, but whats the motivation behind play?
Not all dogs are predisposed to continue hard playing, but for the breeds that do, they are typically playing to see who is the best. Who could get the upper hand in a real battle, and who would then be the pack leader IF they had to go on a hunt. If you are the pack leader you have a LOT of responsibility, but you also get to be at the pointy end of the prey chase, and you get the first selection of the kill.
You control what and how much food you eat. The main point of survival for a wolf or a dog.
With this in the back of most dog’s mind, you can see how some play can get fast and frantic. Even though most dogs are feed commercial food in a bowl by their owners, the off-lead play is still based on this issue that is very real to a dog wanting to be top dog, for foods sake.
Note for those dogs that aren’t playing hard on the grass
For the majority of the pack, just putting their nose to maximum use on the walk, to smell out scents left on trees, bushes and the ground is the main preoccupation.
They are doing this to work out who else has been there (other dogs) and with the hope of tracking an animal that might provide them nourishment. The off-lead walk, the play, is also centred on food and the pleasurable thought of catching something for dinner – even though the chance of this in a well-used dog park is virtually nil.
DOG PLAY, always leads back to FOOD, and the pleasure it brings.
2 DOG FOOD
Domestic dogs evolved from wolves. In the wild wolves would have downtime, but if they didn’t hunt and eat regularly, their pack numbers would dwindle, they couldn’t breed, they couldn’t survive, stay healthy as a pack.
Wolves and domestic dogs are wonderfully playful most of the time, but as we saw from the above, even in play time, the focus was on how to get food. While herbivores can graze anywhere, carnivores have to work a LOT harder to get their nutrition. And that nutrition was almost always completely meat based.
Domestic commercial dog food is typically 40% meat and offal at best. Because meat is much more expensive than grain or vegetables. And corporations like to maximise profits.
Dogs do better on meat products, its bio appropriate and bio available for their bodies to use best to maintain and build muscle, brain and organs. That is why 100% animal products are vital as a food supplement for dogs.
And the very nature of the hunt and the satisfaction of shredding whole meat, (we sell whole strips of meat jerkies for this function) is what gives a dog a massive ENDOPHIN release. It might be the reward without the chase, but it still gives a dog immense pleasure and a Nutrition boost !
3 LOVE AND AFFECTION
I would like to tell you that all dogs just naturally love humans and vice versa. And that its all unconditional. But maybe not quite as simple as that. Domestic dogs had to evolve to be liked by humans, and they did a fantastic job of it. But they still need to get paid, in food.
They even learned and adapted their brain to read our facial gestures better than any other animal can, so they can have a great insight into what we are thinking or feeling just by looking at our face.
But at the end of the day the endorphins from loving your dog, or the joy a dog gets from a doggy massage is collapsed into the fact that you are their protector (their alpha), and therefore their food giver. FOOD gives nutrition and endorphins, as does patting them. You often give them treats and pat them. Its kind of hard to separate the two things.
In a dog park, when a run a pack off lead, I use treats at strategic spots in the walk to gather the pack back to me. They have to stop what they are doing and tracking to come back to me, I have to be more important than anything in their world, and beef liver and a call out usually does the trick
THE TAKEAWAY (pun intended)
Think about how much stake us humans put on food. How the super-rich often find unique ways of spending obscene amounts of money on eating things that others can’t afford, that often have questionable nutritional value. Ever heard of anyone eating food for comfort? Ever heard of people having eating disorders (too much or too little). We are food centric too, so why not dogs?
DOGS fortunately mostly eat the right kinds of things (that we give them), but if we don’t provide them with nutritious meat options, they are unlikely to find these in the park in sufficient amounts. They will have a meat protein deficit.
To fully reward your dog, to give them ultimate pleasure, that their life goals are based on, please consider the meat treat options we can provide!