Behavior vs Obedience Training
Every dog is a product of it's enviornment.
A behaviorist deals with the underlying behavioral issues that a dog is experiencing by first identifying the cause of these issues and then working through them on a primal level. Sixty percent of a dog's brain is controlled by the nose and tactile senses (feeling). This means that the use of body language and energy is going to serve as the clearest form of communication to the dog.
Dogs are born knowing how to bark, bite, dig, chew, chase, jump up on one another, eliminate when they need to, and snarl when they feel threatened. It is a challenge to get a dog to suppress or modify his instincts in order to make human existence more pleasant.
A behaviorist understands the angles of body language, transitional cues, the nuances of eye contact, quickness of a dog's reaction, etc. An obedience trainer may have a good deal of knowledge on these issues, but for the most part, the objective of obedience training is to shape the dog into positions using verbal/non-verbal commands, such as a "sit" or "down," while not addressing the psychological components involved.
Being behaviorists, we at Seize the Leash feel that a key piece of knowledge is missing in how most people look at how to "train" their dog. Knowledge of how the dog's mind is functioning during training is more important to us then the actuall training. You can see this in action when your neighbor repeatedly tells his dog to "stay" in the yard when a bicycle rides by, but the dog's mind is already down the street after the bike as the dog whines and barks. The body may have physically stayed (or have been restrained), but mind and focus are gone.
Seize The Leash - Newsletter Vol. 2 Issue 1
Energy and Intention
It's the beginning of a new year and most of us have made or have already implemented our "resolutions" for the next 365 days. Most of those resolutions are just repeats of years of setting resolutions: I'm going to quit smoking, lose weight, be more conscious of the environment, etc. Why does this happen every year?
Your intentions — whether you're specifically aware of them or not — are the basis for your thoughts, words, and actions. The clearer you are about your intentions, the more easily you can adjust and align your thoughts, words, and actions with them. You are always using visualization to create your life. Always. You do this with a combination of desires, thoughts, images, language and actions. Your intention drives the energy needed to create something in the physical world.
Intentions give you clarity and focus for the results you desire. It doesn't matter if you are building a home, building a business or training a dog, the clarity of the final product will be determined by the clarity of your intentions.By staying calm and focused ourselves, this same"energy" is clearly communicated to our dogs. I see this every day when I'm working with clients or at obedience class. A dog can be totally out of control because of excitment or aggression and respond to my intention and the calm energy I associate with the intention.
Dogs have an exceptional ability to perceive the intentions, thoughts, feelings and energy of their humans, which is one reason they are valued as guides, guardians, and saviors. Dogs are extraordinarily aware, while people have generally forgotten how to be. However, despite our having forgotten this, the energy within our thoughts and feelings has a powerful influence on those around us. Because dogs are extremely preceptive, they easily understand when a thought is clear and focused.
Dog are constantly, deeply, and fully present in each moment, without judgment. They interpret their reality according to the information given them, and their reactions are based on their understanding of what will keep them alive and safe. They do not plan for the future or dwell on the past. A dogs intentions are clearly there for all to see at any time. Regardless of who is around and watching, they are always themselves, and they are completely honest about expressing their feelings. There is also, on the part of dogs, complete, unconditional acceptance of who WE are, regardless of race, sex, job, religion, IQ, or the size of our pocketbooks.
Over the three and a half decades that I have been involved with dogs as a trainer and behavior specialist, I have experienced nearly every kind of interaction, delight, and sorrow that a relationship with another species has to offer. Dogs have heightened my perceptions, expanded my intuition, and taught me to commit to the joy in each new situation.
Your attitudes and beliefs are energies that you project into everything in your life. When you project fear or doubt, you attract similar energy. When you project an attitude of calm energy that is positive, you attract more of that energy. Worry, fear, and doubt create tension, stress, and the feeling of being "down". The energy of those emotions can affect the people around you, and it can affect your dog. Because dogs are so sensitive, they can eaily perceive and respond to these contrasting states, and they will usually reflect them right back to you. Energy flows both ways.
Pay attention to what you are expecting, because your expectations are what you are attracting. Thought sets energy into motion. All words that we speak are a manifestation of our thoughts, which in turn, set energy flowing in a certain direction. The vocabulary you use with your dog represent your beliefs, and if you look objectively at those beliefs, you will see the kind of energy that you are attracting.
Although you can consciously choose how you will let things affect you, it is important to realize that dogs cannot. The same openness that dogs bring to being unconditionally loving and forgiving also means that they absorb whatever we send in their direction. This is why it is critical that you make every possible effort to be aware of how your energy affects those who are naturally vulnerable.
Visualization will help you clarify what you are going to ask of your dog. If you can imagine what you need yourself to look and sound like in order to communicate effectively, and if you can imagine how you want your dog to respond, you will create the kind of energy that will support your training. When you consciously visualze your expectations to your dog, he can read your energy and your body language even better then when you give only a verbal direction or pull on his body for a response.
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