We spoke to a canine advisor Silvia García about what she calls “multi-species families” and how it is much more than just living with a dog.
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Tell us about yourself and what you do?
My name is Silvia García and I have been working as a canine advisor since 2010.
My story is very peculiar because, unlike my colleagues who work with dogs, I did not grow up surrounded by animals nor did I ever live with dogs… However, my dream was always to be a veterinarian when I grew up. As the school years went by, my aptitudes led me to study Graphic Design and it wasn’t until 2006 that I adopted the first dog, with whom I would share my life.
A few months after adopting Simo, a beautiful Alaskan Malamute, I realized that something with our living situation was not ideal. Simo was very uncomfortable interacting with other dogs and I didn’t have the knowledge to understand exactly why.
It was only many years after I started my training as a counsellor, that I was able to understand that Simo did not have problems with his peers, he had problems with the kind of life we were leading. This situation had repercussions on his quality of social interactions with other dogs; his stress levels prevented him from relating properly.
How did the process start?
I started studying ‘Canine Education and Training’ in 2008 and little by little I got into this world. At that time, the training on offer was limited to learning how to train dogs through punishment and reinforcement; coexistence was based on obedience.
As time went by, I trained myself until I reached the professional level I have today; I am not a trainer, I am not a coach, I am a canine advisor. My job as an advisor is to help humans to understand that dogs have ethological needs that are different from ours, and that their well-being responds directly in relation to how many of their needs as a species are covered.
Why is the relationship between humans and dogs important?
Dogs are social animals just as we humans are. They need to have a role within the family structure, this means that they must have a function that defines them as individuals. Dogs “are” because they have a role within their family. Exactly like us.
But on the other hand, their way of seeing the world and relating to it shares no comparison with ours. The human world is very hostile to animals and has consequences on their emotional, physical and cognitive state in the present and long term.
How can a dog be affected by the emotional mood of its family?
A dog that lives in an environment perceived as hostile but has a strong and healthy relationship with its referent person (guardian / carer / human companion) , has a higher quality of life than a dog that lives in an ideal environment but is ignored by its family. Social isolation takes its toll on dogs and humans in equal measure.
Why is family important for a dog?
The emotional state of the referent person (guardian / carer/ human companion) is something very important for the dog; if the family dynamics are unstable, there will be consequences to your dog’s behavior.
People live with such a high level of stress, at such an accelerated pace, that it is very difficult for a dog to identify when there is a real danger. Our emotional intensity does not fluctuate with any sign of danger, it fluctuates only when there is a really high danger.
We always have things to do, problems to solve and places to be, and this emotional overload affects the dogs we live with, who are simply trying to understand how we are at every moment in order to have the information to know how they have to act.
Thinking about it from the dog’s point of view, we realize that it is exhausting to be constantly waiting for a catastrophe to happen.
Our busy lifestyle and lack of connection with dogs makes them feel both personally isolated and isolated from us.
This lack of predictability, added to the mental and sensory over-stimulation of city life, causes health problems in dogs.
On the other hand, we must consider that we continually demand too much of them. We ask them for blind obedience and forget that dogs, just like humans, live in a group thanks to the strength of their relationship.
Teaching obedience, tricks or throwing them the ball without structure does not create a relationship, it creates animals dependent on dopamine.
To create a relationship it is necessary to stop doing empty things and start listening to the individual with whom we live. Dogs have their own tastes, make decisions and have an opinion. What is complicated is to understand what they want to say because they do not say it with words. And that is my job; to facilitate communication between two species in order to establish understanding that builds a relationship.
How did you hear about NatuPet?
I found out about NatuPet through Nordic Oil’s website because I had been using their CBD for humans for almost 2 years. My quality of life has improved since I introduced CBD consumption to my daily routine.
For the last few months NatuPet has been part of Sun and Buddha’s lives and as well as some of the dogs of the families I work with.
What advice would you give for a healthy relationship between a family and their dogs?
To have a healthy relationship with a dog or any other animal for that matter, the first step is to learn about the species. We must begin to understand that humans have a vision of the world, but that it only applies to our species and that the rest of the species have totally different needs.
In terms of quality of life, living is not the same as surviving; many animals survive with us but do not enjoy a full life.
Obedience is an abstract social and cultural concept created by humans that does not apply to other animals. An obedient dog is not a fulfilled dog, it is not a happy dog.
To really talk about animal respect we must aspire to respect dogs as a whole, as the different species they are, leaving aside the human ego and our need to have everything under control.
Our work as consultants is based on training and accompanying human families in the process of learning “what a dog really is” and that they can live together, sharing mutual respect for one another.
How do you integrate CBD into your coaching sessions for ‘multi-species families’?
In many of the cases where I work with families to improve the coexistence between dogs and humans, we find that the relationship is difficult and this increases the stress levels of all involved. CBD helps us to help people and dogs feel better in their daily lives and this results in a substantial improvement in the quality of life in the long term.
How is CBD a valuable tool in your work?
CBD is one more branch on the tree of what we might consider our work. With each branch we reach another aspect of the lives of the families who live with dogs and these branches can only work when used together. But when you look at all the branches together, you see the tree, which is the result of the project we built with the families.