What can puppies possibly teach us about DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion)?
It turns out… a lot. April is National Pet Month - let’s see what a puppy’s “society” can teach us about how we might improve our own.
Dogs in the wild are pack animals; like wolves, they have a clear “you’re in, or you’re out” (in which case, you’re an enemy)” society. For puppies who will become domesticated pets, the puppy’s owner must ensure the puppy learns to see everyone and everything that will be a part of the puppy’s life as inside the pack.
Puppies are most curious and least fearful before twelve weeks of age. During this “socialization period,” dog trainers and veterinarians strongly encourage puppy owners to expose the puppy to as many new things as possible - noises, textures, people, environments, other animals, smells, and more.
There are widely used “socialization checklists,” which are long and surprisingly detailed (and even more so for service dogs-in-training). For example, instead of saying “a person,” a checklist might list: a person wearing a hat, a person wearing boots, people of varying ethnicities, a person using a cane or walker, a child, someone running, a tall person, someone with a beard, someone running at night, etc.
Here’s the connection to DEI: Imagine what our world would be like if we humans acknowledged a “Socialization Period” for ourselves?
- What might be possible if all our kids interacted with a wide array of people before they’d developed fears or preconceived notions about “others”?
- What if we relied on compassion and gentle teaching, instead of judgment, when someone seems nervous or fearful of someone/something unfamiliar?
This National Pet Month, we say to Man’s Best Friend (and to our other furry friends!): Thank you for inspiring us humans to think about how we can become better friends to each other. To learn more about diversity and inclusion and the lessons we can learn from our pets, click here.
Learn more on our DEI Resource Page: