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Montessori for Dogs

The principles of educating children using Montessori methods can be applied to dogs and can be equally effective in developing a dog to be the best he/she can be.

Firstly what does Montessori education look like? The Montessori method views the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It attempts to develop children physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.

Montessori education allows for freedom, within limits, and a trained Montessori teacher is one who follows the child and is highly experienced in observing the individual child's characteristics, tendencies, innate talents, and abilities.

When we think of these principles for dogs it looks like this:

  • allow the dog to be a dog and do dog things, but all within the boundaries of safety

  • know your dog through observing him/her and develop that dog through the right opportunities for exploration

  • be a benevolent leader - one who does not teach through punishments but one who reinforces the behaviour they wish to see more of

  • use the body and develop confidence with the body in the environment, so as to be able to perform in the environment

  • expose the dog to all you expect the dog to perceive as unthreatening in an unthreatening way and allow the individual to pick the pace at which he/she works at to be comfortable and proficient around new tasks

Maria Montessori, the founder of the education method with her name, believed that children allowed to develop according to their inner laws of development would give rise to a more peaceful and enduring civilization.

It's a big ask to think that changing the way we view and train dogs will also change the world but given how we behave as one species towards another more vulnerable one is really what peace and harmony is all about, then changing and making more peaceful the way we raise and treat dogs could be a step in the right direction.

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