Why Emotions Matter in Dog Training

Why Emotions Matter in Dog Training

Dog Training is a messy business. Anyone who claims that it is cut and dry is missing the beauty if not the stinging reality of the complexity that is Hearts and Dogs. You say I am complacent and permissive with my cookies and praises, and I say you’re downright cruel with those shock-collars and prongs around an innocent neck. But dog training is more than science and quadrants and pinches and pessimistic glances over the fence. Dog training should never even BE about “dog training” – it should be, and always will be, about Love. Because the only reason we’re all in this in the first place is because we love dogs. If love is what drives us to work with dogs, fear is what makes us abuse the system of behavior analysis. We all want to “think we know,” and that comes from our hearts. To believe that a shock collar or a clicker has equal power to bring a dog into greater harmony with our human world stems from a noble desire for a deeper connection with animals. But both beliefs stem from a desire for control. Clicker training drives the control freak crazy. It goes against every traditional teaching, every belief system, and every childhood memory of kids and dogs and long walks in fields and corporal punishment and ice-cream, all wrapped up in a nostalgic package. With a bow. Complex, isn’t it. Emotions and dogs. And ice cream. We don’t jerk our dogs because we’re trying to punish them; we use the aversive approach because “it works!”, because the punishment fits the crime, because it...
Earth-Based Spirituality & Dog Training

Earth-Based Spirituality & Dog Training

Dog Training Made Whole Together we have the opportunity to define a relationship between dogs and their families. That definition naturally is shaped by our relationship with earth. So to define earth-based spirituality in the context of our relationship with dogs and dog training, we must first understand who we are as spiritual beings on this earth. Understanding who we are in the bigger picture of the universe helps us to see how all beings are interconnected through nature. From the moment of conception we are connected with other animals on earth because we are by nature part of a larger ecosystem that we share with all creatures. Together, animals and humans share a similar pattern of thought and design that comes from the divine. All creatures have the ability to communicate through a universal language of patterns of thought. Animal communicators use this knowledge to connect with animals through signals which are patterns of thought identifiable by sound and pictures. Dog training applies this principal. Beginning with our relationship with other beings, we begin to see how the way in which we communicate can impact our relationship with nature. Our insight into relationships can help us define what we are meant to do in our sustainability of life and its protection of the planet. Life and its ecosystem is an essential component of spiritual practice in that it allows us to understand the delicate balance between ourselves, our world, and the creatures in it. This understanding leads to greater harmony between beings as it allows a fruitful relationship among creatures who would otherwise do harm rather than good....
Understanding Your Dog

Understanding Your Dog

First Paw Forward has a standard of excellence when working with clients and their “family members” (your beloved dog(s)) – here are some valuable tips to help you build a foundation: Learn some of the science of how dogs think and communicate. Animal Planet’s TV show “It’s Me or the Dog” provides insight into the language of dogs and demonstrates effective tools ClickerTraining.com is an extensive resource for learning the science of dog language in a user-friendly forum “The Other End of the Leash” by Patricia McConnell is a suburb book on our relationships. Recognize that dogs don’t think like people. In fact, dogs’ cognitive abilities are not as great as ours – they are not capable of “feeling bad” or “guilty,” stressing over their day, having foresight into the consequences of their actions, or learning and remembering out of context. And they definitely aren’t capable of “knowing right from wrong.” Realize that dogs have evolved from wolves but do not act like wolves in the wild – they do NOT exhibit family pack behaviors that include concepts like dominance and submission, as popularized on reality TV. They ARE part of a complex social system that relies on patterns of behavior, contexts, socialization, conditioning, and a need for harmony. Dogs think in context – that means “sit” in front of a bowl is very different than “sit” in front of a door or “sit” at the curb at the end of your street. Each act must be trained separately. Dogs think in terms of patterns, particularly patterns of behavior. For example, your dog knows that you are going to...
A Divine Partnership Between Species

A Divine Partnership Between Species

Understanding your dog’s behavior is essential to a creating a partnership between species. Your dog has its own way of perceiving its environment, which includes your words, smells, body language, and reactions to the dog and your own environment. Stressors in your environment can impact a dog in ways that only canines can recognize. These stressors can impact your dog in a variety of ways that ultimately manifest in behavior changes, including changes in the way your dog responds to you. Your dog is your mirror. Many of our stresses manifest in ways that only our dogs can see. Sometimes we can look to our dogs to notice the areas in our life where we are exhibiting stresses, because those stresses have a direct impact on our dog. The relationship you have with your dog can inspire you to shape your world in a way that allows you to express yourself in new ways without the confines of language and allow for the possibility of change and freedom for your dog. Just as you can shape your world in a way that allows you to control your environment, you can shape your world and your emotions to impact your dog’s environment and behavior. Our environment is a creation of our perception, and our dogs invite us to see the world through their eyes. It’s only when we take a look at the world through their perception that we are able to recognize that everything we have is just tools to help us survive a world in which we rely on other people to provide for us, care for us,...
A Harmonious Relationship in Dog Training

A Harmonious Relationship in Dog Training

A harmonious relationship in dog training The earth is a complex natural environment where things co-exist in harmony. Dog training is a complex relationship between two species who don’t understand how to co-exist without adapting their communication methods. Continuing our understanding of dogs must begin within, as the relationship between people and dogs cannot rely on misunderstood concepts of training that inhibit a dog’s natural response to its world and stimuli. Belief that a dog is more or less tied to its wolf roots can both help and hurt us. Modern science should allow for a deeper understanding of both science based training and the natural harmony that exists in the world and is evident in nature. That said, a dog can only relate to the world to an extent through the eyes of its human. So our relationship with our dogs is key to both existing in harmony with their species and existing in harmony with nature. – Guest Writer, Zach Wilson, Wildlife Biologist   Sponsored by D.I.C.I.P.H. (Dogs Impacting Change in People’s Hearts)...
Harmony in dog training

Harmony in dog training

Harmony in dog training as in life Success in dog training depends on the relationship between the owner and the dog. Many dog owners seek help from a professional dog trainer in order to ‘change an undesired behavior,’ typically because their own attempts to change this behavior have been met with resistance. Resistance occurs when there is a lack of harmony in the relationship. Dogs naturally want to live in a state of harmony with their people and will choose to do so when given the opportunity. When there is tension between dog and owner, like a deliberate pushing and pulling of wills, disharmony occurs. Harmony can be defined as a state of grace – an ease and suppleness in communication that comes from a place of considerate and thoughtful understanding. Dogs can teach us many things – including the ability to breach barriers of language and culture and come to true understanding and harmony. We only need to take one first step: Intention.     Sponsored by D.I.C.I.P.H. (Dogs Impacting Change in People’s Hearts)...