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Muttlow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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Dr. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a humanistic psychologist. He theorized that human behavior is driven by instinct and desires in order to reach an upper level of capabilities, and that the person does not feel the second need until the demands of the first have been satisfied, nor the third until the second has been satisfied, and so on.

The hierarchic theory is often represented as a pyramid, with the larger, lower levels representing the lower needs, and the upper point representing the need for self-actualization. Maslow believes that education is key for personal growth towards self-actualization. He (of course) meant for this to be applied to humans.

After years of experience as a dog trainer in Ventura, I have adapted Dr. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to a more dog-owner-friendly Muttlow’s Hierarchy of Needs is as it might apply to our domestic dogs…and just because it was a fun thing to do.


“What the dog was born to do.”
Search and rescue, service work, hunting and retrieving, protection, K9.

Needs for Esteem
“Confidence building”
Agility, Flyball, herding. Community work such as a Canine Good Citizen or Dog Scouts. Problem solving activities including interactive food toys and puzzles, dig-ging pits. And of course, education.

Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness
Giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging.
Belly rubs, car rides, fun and games with family, meeting doggy friends at dog park, hanging out at your feet while you work at the computer, read a book, or sit on the back porch admiring the sunset.

Safety Needs
Providing a safe, protective, and stable environment.
A roof over their head, comfy bed, medical care, place to retreat to in times of stress, seat belts or car harnesses, leashes when in required areas, licensing, required vacci-nations.

Physiological Needs
These are biological needs. They are the strongest of all needs. If an animal was de-prived of them they wouldn’t survive. All elements that help maintain homeostasis while providing the ability to pass on their genes. They consist of:
Oxygen, water, food, consistent body temperature, need to maintain pH balance, sex.
*Even feral dogs would meet this level of criteria.

As loving and responsible dog owners we MUST:
• Make sure that the most basic of needs are satisfied.
• Accept who and what our dogs are and appreciate them for what they do for us.
• Gain knowledge ourselves to help us understand our dogs and their behavior.
• Provide an education for our dogs in a safe and humane way, where they learn to make their own choices and develop problem solving skills in order to help enhance and build self-confidence.
• Understand them as a separate species. Acknowledge their innate behaviors, and create an environment where they can learn and develop these behaviors in order to satisfy their own needs and desires while at the same time meeting our needs, thus creating harmony between.

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