It’s often strange to me that even now, so many people struggle to understand that the brain affects behaviour. That emotions and internal drivers based on species are often at the root of many ‘behaviour problems’. I put that phrase in quotations marks, as it’s highly subjective to the human, what is a problem for one household isn’t for the other. However, to the individual animal it’s often normal behaviour for them in that context. They’re doing what they feel is necessary based on the information they have. The context, environment, expectations, predictability, safety, trust, the ability to emotionally regulate; or not, medical conditions, chronic or acute pain, are all things that must be considered when you ask yourself the question

“How do I stop my dog from doing x?”

The question that we seek to answer at Control the Meerkat, is “Why is your x doing x?”. We look deeper than the behaviour being presented, we look into the why? What emotional needs are being met, or not met, to produce this behaviour? How stressed is the dog in general? What’s their trauma history? Their developmental history? What is their relationship like with others and how does this vary? Whats their daily routine like? Their diet? exercise? There’s a lot to go through to get that answer.

But what has this got to do with a meerkat ?

I’m glad you asked ! For anyone who has read ‘The Chimp Paradox’ you may understand. The Meerkat was created as a visual example of the inner working of your dogs brain. The Meerkat highlights the difference between when your dog can think and be cognitively online and when they can’t. When that ‘trigger’ happens in their brain, where they get hijacked by their emotions, and they just react; they don’t think – That’s the Meerkat.

We explain that we’re not just training the dog, we’re working with their Meerkat too. If we can’t ‘Control The Meerkat’ then we can’t help the dog

Danielle Beck, MSc
Cartoon Meerkat standing up smiling

We can help to 'Control The Meerkat' using 5 steps:

  1. Understand the why, – Why is the Meerkat hijacking the dog?
  2. Create safety and predictability – Only safety can help calm the Meerkat; building confidence in your dog where needed.
  3. Calm the Meerkat, before training the dog – We don’t expose the dogs to situations that upset their Meerkat.
  4. Help your dog to learn how to calm and control their own Meerkat.
  5. Help them to learn how to control their Meerkat in the real world. This is led by the individual not us.

Our team at control the meerkat have been helping people to help their dogs by working out the why, helping caregivers understand the reasons ‘x’ behaviour is happening, then supporting the dogs for over 10 years.

If you want to find out more come and join our community where you get access to our groups and forums, our Brain and Behaviour foundation course and monthly live group sessions with Danielle Beck, MSc, Clinical Animal Behaviourist all for £25 a month !!

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