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The Hierarchy of Dog Needs

Standards of care and best force-free practices


The Hierarchy of Dog Needs was created by ISCP Affiliate Linda Michaels MA, and Linda’s graphic clearly illustrates the essential requirements that must be met to ensure that dogs are able to lead healthy, happy and fulfilled lives.

Our students and graduates at the ISCP use the Hierarchy of Dog Needs as the basis for their assessments and their work with dogs and their carers, and I highly recommend that all dog professionals and guardians download it from Linda’s website here and refer to it often.

Until recently the focus has been primarily on meeting dogs’ biological needs, but these are only the foundation of good caregiving. There’s now abundant evidence through scientific research studies that dogs’ emotional, mental and social needs are no different to ours, and that a lack of attention to any of these vital areas has a major impact on wellbeing, welfare and behaviour.

Force-free methods have been proven to be far more effective than the old (and scientifically disproved) force/dominance methods, because these encourage and build trust, cooperation and enduring affection between us and our dogs. Trust, understanding, the ability to observe and listen, and clear communication are the four cornerstones for life-enhancing relationships. The Hierarchy of Dog Needs is a wonderfully simple guide that shows how we can achieve the best for (and from) our canine companions. Thank you, Linda!

- Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, founder of the ISCP

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