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A Dog's Real Needs


A Dog's Real Needs

by Carol Whitney

Copyright © 1997-2005 by Carol Whitney. Used with permission. All other rights reserved.

We have real needs

Kumbi (left) and Kwali (right)
tell Carol of their needs
Photo by Carol Whitney

Excerpt from Carol's article

A Dog's Real Needs

currently in revision

Dogs have real needs just as any other animals have. The trick for us humans is to learn what those needs are. If we watch and listen with care and attention, the dogs will tell us their needs.

Here is a checklist of needs
that every dog has

These are all needs that we must meet in a timely way, if we are not to leave the dog to meet the needs itself as best it can.

The dog-needs we need to meet always in a timely way include:

  1. Daily opportunities for the dog to act as the dog it is, both in its DogNess and in its individuality.
  2. Trust in us, its humans, to provide it with safety, security, stability: being able to predict that its needs will be met in a reasonably timely way.
  3. Social feedback, including full membership in the family-group: being with its human caretakers and guides, active and effective communication that flows in both directions, dog-to-human and human-to-dog.
  4. Safe, comfortable and interesting places in which to be the dog it is: places in which to rest undisturbed, places in which to explore and to play.
  5. Water, food, shelter, protection from the elements.
  6. Grooming and medical care; touch to the body, opportunity to touch other warm bodies.
  7. At least adequate mental stimulation and concomitant rest time;
  8. At least adequate physical exercise and concomitant rest time;
  9. Human caretaker recognition of and relief of any distress the dog may be in that it cannot itself relieve.

Carol's entire article on A Dog's Real Needs includes remarks on canine behavior in response to having needs met.

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