Learn to understand your dog at Thursday workshop in Edwards | VailDaily.com

Learn to understand your dog at Thursday workshop in Edwards

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Bioethicist Jessica Pierce will discuss how to understand your dog on a biological and evolutionary level on Thursday at 4 p.m. at The Riverwalk Backyard in Edwards.
Special to the Daily

If you go …

What: Workshop about understanding dogs, led by bioethicist Jessica Pierce, co-author of “Unleashing Your Dog.”

When: Thursday, June 13, at 4 p.m.

Where: The Riverwalk Backyard, behind The Riverwalk of Edwards toward the river. (Hosted by The Bookworm of Edwards.)

Cost: Free.

More information: Call 970-926-READ or visit www.bookwormofedwards.com.

We all love our dogs. They’re our best companions and our fiercest friends. But no matter how cushy their lives are they live on our terms. Understanding them at a deeper level could help to change that.

Bioethicist Jessica Pierce will lead a workshop about how to understand your dog on a biological and evolutionary level it order to give it the best life possible — based on her new book. The workshop will take place at The Riverwalk Backyard in Edwards hosted by The Bookworm of Edwards on Thursday

Dogs are welcome to tag along, as long as they’re leashed and under control for the duration of the event.

“I feel like I was born loving animals, and many of my earliest memories are of the companion animals that shared my childhood home,” Pierce said. “I was even named after an animal — my parents’ beloved Irish setter, Jesse.”

‘Unleashing your dog’

Pierce is a pet owner herself. Like most people, her dogs fit into her life like a missing puzzle piece. But her bioethics background led her to question: Is pet keeping the way it is traditionally done ethical? Are the dogs’ best interests truly at heart? These questions led her to co-author another book with her writing partner Marc Bekoff, specifically about pet keeping, entitled “Unleashing Your Dog.”

“Many people assume pet-keeping is inherently (good) because pets are pampered animals for whom we provide everything,” Pierce said, “but the welfare of animals kept as pets is often seriously compromised.”

These compromises can be as drastic as abuse, or as seemingly benign as boredom, she says. Not all hope is lost for ethical pet-keeping, however.

“Providing our dogs with what they need to be happy and healthy simply requires a basic understanding of who they are,” Pierce said. “Knowing, for example, that dogs see the world through their noses can help us understand the importance of letting them sniff. Many ‘behavioral problems’ in dogs are the result of people not understanding what dogs are doing and why they are doing it. The trick is in knowing how to redirect unwanted behaviors into something more positive, for human and dog alike.”

So how does someone “unleash their dog” in situations where aligned behavior and control are required? According to Pierce, the answer is relatively simple — give them more freedom to engage their senses and behave like dogs.

“Allow them time on a walk to stop and smell things they find interesting,” Pierce said. “If our dog is on a leash, we can simply shift our own pace to match theirs.”

In the end, unleashing your dog is all about understanding your dog, and providing it what it needs to lead a rich and fulfilling life by your side. With a little extra effort, we can be just as good of friends to them as they are to us.