I must say, the weather here so far has been wonderful: 70s/80s, mostly sunny, a little cloudiness here and there, and today we had some overcast and a little rain but that wasn’t too bad. Today there was a couple that came in with their dog and Kevin worked some sit-down-stay on the ledge. One of the key things I took away from the exercise is getting the dog to feel that being in an uncomfortable state blocks flow AND that the dog feels it put itself in that uncomfortable state. When the dog sits, goes to down, and/or stays it will eventually choose that over being uncomfortable, such as pulling on lead, jumping off the box, etc. We aren’t correcting when the dog does what we don’t want it to do; rather, we are giving the correction when it chooses to be in the state of grounding, which is what we want. It seems counter-intuitive because that’s the mode of thinking most of us were taught through 12+ years of education. But in reality we want the correction, oftentimes the tug on the leash, to be associated with the obedient behavior. This is why saying “No,” scolding, hitting, taking away a prey-object like a toy, or any other method of blocking the flow/prey drive is detrimental to the system we want to maintain and as a result the dog ends up either doing what we don’t want it to do and/or it stores the blocking as stress and later comes out as an inappropriate bite or other problem behavior. Anyway, when the dog does perform the obedient behavior by choosing the path of highest resistance (which we create followed by a zing), it feels good and the dog gives us the credit for it. Therefore, we become more and more attractive = we become the moose. One might think that is cheating but that is a human concept/perception. What’s really going on is the dog is learning that flow comes through you when you give it the option to choose to do so.
There was a question brought up a few days ago on the FB page about what’s going on with my dogs and how we are addressing them. I’ll give it my best shot here as I am still processing/conceptualizing my dogs from the Natural Dog Training template. Let’s start with Bella. Problems areas:
- jumping up, especially when we come home from work
- licking and occasional nipping toward our 1-year-old – not actual biting of skin but more a “nip” in her direction when we go to pick her up off the ground
Bella operates at a low threshold. Her prey drive kicks into gear very quickly and her default setting is at 200 mph. What happens is that when we get home from work we are at our weakest (i.e. we are lovey-dovey, we’ve had a long day of work, we have that feeling of pampering when we walk int he door). We taught her not to jump up without giving her another channel to express that energy. If you suppress that energy the dogs build up a charge and it turns into load/overload behavior. See, dogs learn by contrast and if you don’t give it to them how are they going to learn. At the same time, how you present that contrast is where the training methods come in, especially when you have a dog that was trained in such a way that blocks their natural drive to ground their energy. That blocking of energy gets stored as stress through a physical memory. Then as this stress builds up within the emotional battery, it comes out through problems behaviors. One of the most important things I’ve learned from Kevin so far is that when you have a problem behavior in a dog you have to go back the way it came in. For instance, we taught Bella not to jump up in a way mirrored her desire to jump. We didn’t afford her the option of when and when not to jump. See, jumping up is actually a “positive” way for a dog to make contact with us and feel magnetically connected. So, now what I need to do is show her that jumping up in the back yard as an incorporated piece of push and tug and so forth gets her drive grounded and it gets her supple so that she doesn’t have to operate at 200 mph all the time. Then, when we come home from work she will know that jumping up isn’t efficient for her, it doesn’t concern her. Yet, when its time to go out back she knows its the channel, or pathway, to move that energy.
The the other piece of this is getting Bella to loosen her shoulders. Because pulling on lead has become a part of what walking or chasing prey has been for her, she locks up her shoulders which blocks the flow of energy. We have been working on sit-down and whisk-away stuff on a rock and this all will translate into healing, which is connecting through the physical center of gravity.
As far as the nipping is concerned, Kevin suggested that I keep the dogs tied up or crated, or away in some fashion from our child (or future children) until they are at an age and physical stature when their own physical center of gravity is manageable with the dogs. At this point our child has become the negative charge where Bella’s static energy wants to move to ground. Plus, if you think of a toddler anyway, they are very prey-like without the cognitive ability of knowing how much is too much in terms of approaching a dog. There’s certainly magnetic pull there but its just too risky a situation. So, fortunately, when our little girl gets older she can help me play hide and seek with Bella in the woods and that will be a more conductive way for Bella to channel her energy not only with me but with our child. So, for now, the dogs will be separated most of the time.
Then we have Trace who has such a great temperament (i.e. he gets along great with kids and other dogs) but the problems we face with him are:
- running off
- not focusing/avoiding
Huskies are difficult to train simply by the nature of their temperaments: they are very independent and go by the toot of their own horn. At the same time that doesn’t mean you can’t work with them and get that energy channeled. It just takes a lot of work for many of them. We are working with sit-stay and down-stay and it has been difficult at times because he doesn’t always take food – another trait for huskies with their ability to regulate their own metabolism which can lead to not needing to take food on command. Regardless, we are trying to get him into a flow system where we get him on the rock, sit, down, whisk-away, and repeat. One of the things he gets into, especially when confronted with high resistance is he will tune out to the horizon. We are working on increasing in him a steady-state focus through bite work in order to minimize his load/overload. Now, load/overload might look something like when a charge is built up, the dog might go for a bite or bark but then it collapses and right back to avoidance. A way to get past that is to rub-a-dub and zing with food when he expresses inner stress/unresolved emotion through moments of barks or bites on the “toy.” This is that going back the way it came in by getting him to remember that barking and biting through the appropriate channel of highest resistance feels good. We are giving him the option of sustaining flow, which feels good and gets him grounded, or he can panic, which leads to the problem I have with him when he runs away or avoids. Simple right? 😉
I hope I have this right. If I am right then it sure does feel good to have a handle on this conceptually. If not, then, crap.
Ya’ll have a good one!