One of the main issues I see that is tremendously lacking in thousands of homes, as I behaviorally rehab dogs and instruct their owners, is the simple understanding that dogs communicate constantly through their energy and body language. Dogs are almost always talking! Are we accurately reading them and honestly listening? Dogs are constantly telling us what they need or want and this, in turn, tells us how to help them. And the amazing thing about that is that dogs don’t lie. They don’t deceive or fall prey to mankind’s greatest weaknesses, such as inflated ego, criticism, materialism, consumerism, or attempting to live a life that flows against Mother Nature. When we can take our eyes off ourselves for a moment we can truly see, appreciate, and then help a dog or pup in need.
If you begin to think of a dog as furry energy, you will start to see how you can help calm that animal’s brain in that moment in time. This is the answer to any dog behavioral issue. Problems arise when most typical dog trainers, dog behaviorists, vets, vet techs, dog rescue groups, groomers and other dog professionals do not use enough natural calming techniques. Many dog professionals seldom consider how dogs need to be calmed down in order to be social, and instead just forge ahead with the same typical training techniques no matter what the dog is communicating with its energy and body.
Typical training uses way too much excitement. Please re-read that last sentence. We have been sold the concept that an excited dog is a happy dog. In many circumstances nothing could be further from the truth. When we realize that the canine uses differing levels of excitement/energy like a human uses words to communicate, we start to understand that being excited does not always mean the dog is happy. In fact, many dogs are overexcitement junkies. They are stuck in horrible habits of overexcitement because they have not been shown how to stop the addiction, or shown they have crossed a social boundary in the household. Remember, not all excitement is good. Playing ball or wrestling with your dog is good excitement. Pulling nonstop on leash or freaking out at another dog or person is not good. As humans, we get excited to go on vacation and that’s great but we also become excited when in a warzone or if we were running from a dangerous murderer. Not all excitement means we are happy.
Out of control much?
Most training also seldom considers what the animal may actually need and instead goes right into manipulating the dog, usually using something exciting (treats, toys, praise), into a sit, down or stay. Behaviorist and trainers alike focus on the External motivation of the animal instead of the more natural and much more beneficial Internal motivation. They focus too heavily on obedience as the end-all-be-all instead of relationship!
We as a society are hyper fixated for some very odd reason with making our dogs sit. I see countless people every day making their dogs sit and sit and sit some more. I ask you this simple question…Why? Has it solved the dog’s behavioral issue? Has it made them calm their energy enough to change the undesirable behavior into something much better. or do they just end up, literally, placing their bottom on the ground for a moment and only to pop back up into whatever behavior they want? Or, if the “sit, stay or wait,” works and is fairly strong and the person has practiced that with the dog and done prior training, the dog will then remain in the “sit, stay, wait” yet all the while building more energy and over-excitement. Then, when the owner releases the dog, the dog ends up still exploding forward into the undesired behavior! What has the sit (stay, wait) done for you? What was gained? In many cases the dogs use it to manipulate and raise their energy which is the OPPOSITE of what the owner wants and what the dog wants deep down inside.
Instinctually, no dog wants to be hyper or out of control. They are just locked into a habit of raising their energy. Many dogs I see yearn for more natural rules and boundaries so they can learn how to calm themselves down and exist more comfortably with their families at a more sociable level. This leads to more pleasant outings and a larger social group. And, as we know, instinctually for a pack predator (with amazing instincts right from the wolf) getting along in a large social group and operating like a well-oiled-machine is what being a healthy dog is all about. Being social is the key. But you have to be calm enough to get along socially!
Consider your dog’s energy levels while patiently existing in the moment with them, read their body language more effectively and then you will have an amazing foundation to prevent or cure any behavioral issue. Think and then act to intercept rising energy and place your dog or pup into more patient postures.
“The more tranquil a man becomes the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.” -James Allen
Hope you all enjoyed this article.
Check out my website at www.gstevensdogtrainer.com Stay tuned for other excellent dogformation from yours truly, thecaninecalmer. Look for little dogortunities to work with your dogs or pups throughout the day. Order my behavioral book, Dog Myths -it’ll rock your world and give you an amazing understanding of dog language and how the training industry is dropping the ball and how to prevent, reverse, and eliminate behavioral issues. The link is below. And, be different, use calmness instead of excitement when working with your dog or pup!
Author of Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!
Alpha and Omega Dog Training
Any Breed, Any Age, Any Problem