“Do or do not. There is no try.”
Yoda the Jedi Master
I believe in the force. You may think I’m joking but if you had the privilege to study, learn from or hang out with any of the world’s most successful people you would find (like Napoleon Hill did- author of Think and Grow Rich) almost all of them use the force and use it often.
One example is George Lucas; net worth around 5 Billion dollars! Who would have thought a story about space aliens could yield that sort of amazing fortune? If one of our friends told us they had come up with that exact story we would probably respond with a complacent, “Yeah, that’s a cool story, man.” and leave it at that.
“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” -Johnathan Swift
Our thoughts often determine our reality. Because thoughts are real things. And thoughts lead to attitudes and words and those in turn lead to actions which then become habits which direct our character and character becomes our destiny.
I think we can all relate to Star Wars because we recognize that there is good and evil in our world. And that there is always a choice in our lives. We get to choose what type of person we become. The Jedi are on the good side – selfless, caring, protecting, patient, peaceful. The Sith are on the dark side – selfish, jealous, plotting, angry, evil.
When we work with our dogs we should always check our own energy and, “act like a Jedi,” if you will. Stay calm. Stay patient. You can use force (physically) because dogs are very physical but it is always better to “use the force” mentally rather than physically as dogs can easily cue in on that. Attempt to “be at one” with your pooch and your surroundings.
A warning to the idiots out there: please don’t take this too far. Don’t hit your dog with any flying Jedi kicks or fashion your own light saber in order to beat your confused puppy over the head. And for God’s sake don’t video yourself acting like a Jedi or Sith. I would hate for any of my clients or the followers of this fine blog to have an embarrassing video surface of you attempting to twirl your light saber and attack the invisible minions of the Dark Side like that poor, nerdy kid a few years back (Search on Youtube for “Star Wars kid” if you want to see the videos I’m referencing).
Live in the moment with your dog when training and especially when you need to correct/alter a behavior. Develop a great heel = your dog walks beside you (not in front). If you need to correct a behavior attempt block out the whole world and focus on only your dog. Look at their body. What is it doing? Look at their energy level. Try to match it and then calm it.
Concentrate like only a predator can (your dog is a domesticated predator- remember that) Use tunnel vision to your advantage as dogs and practitioners of “the force” do. Breathe. Use intense focus but be ready to switch back to instant relaxation and the rest of the world around you= switch back to “normal” (this is tough for most people but keep practicing).
Luke Skywalker learned to live in the moment, preserve his energy, be ready but not tense, and out maneuver his opponent. We should follow these steps too when dealing with dog aggression.
Out maneuver your dog (physically). Any good Jedi knight or Sith lord knows that to win a fight or battle it is always critical to out maneuver or gain the better ground. This means cutting off any unsocial eye contact with whatever or whoever your dog wants to threaten! Control the eyes and you control the animal! Be prepared to switch back to total relaxation instantly when and if you achieve the desired results – usually the dog should make some form of eye contact with you out of respect for what you are telling it and the dog should stop threatening the other dog or person. Do Not attempt to bribe the dog into the eye contact with a treat or “watch me” command like most training companies teach!
Beware the trainers trap: over-treating and over-excitement! Those can (if misused) lead to the Dark Side of the force! Too much excitement will not really work if the dog is very fearful or truly aggressive and it leads to a dog who acts like a brat and still usually manages to stay aggressive towards people or dogs! If you are always attempting to bribe and get the dog to “watch” you when the dog is flipping out with escalated energy and wants to attack another dog or person soon your dog won’t even give a rip about your dumb treat or your lame attempted “re-directing.” You have to calm the energy first!
When I mention the “quick calming and back to normal” that falls into the all important category of Trust. You need to cultivate a real relationship with your dog (whether they are aggressive or not) and it needs to be based on Respect and Trust. Without either of those ingredients your efforts are doomed to fail and “the Emperor will have already won.” Don’t let your dog continue his/her life in fear. Fear leads to the Dark Side of the force.
Yoda is right. Don’t let your dog continue living a life of fear and suffering. Take Action!!!
I would say 95% of the aggressive dogs I behaviorally rehab are coming from a place of fear. Their aggression is fear-based. The only answer then is to conquer such fears. Action helps conquer fear in our dogs and in our own lives. Sociability is the only answer. I can hear Princess Leah saying “Help us Sociability…you’re our only hope!” She is right! But your dog has to be Calm enough to be social.
Sound Advice…please take it and use it.
Always ask yourself what would the mother dog do? WWTMDD? Nature’s way will ALWAYS trump our foolish human ways when it comes to dealing with an animal. You should see all the ridiculous ways mankind has come up with to “train” our dogs…from unnatural tethering of a dog inside your home that will allegedly help it not jump on guests (but in reality makes a dog More aggressive and energetic and territorial) to idiotic partitions/cubicle devices that separate dogs and pups in group classes to allegedly help calm them (but in reality raise the dog’s energy because they can still hear don’t understand why they can’t just be near the dogs a few feet away behind the mysterious curtain/partition) these foolish gimmicks will work poorly at best. The path to the Dark Side is a path most unnatural!
In regards to constant bribery with treats and over-excited methods of typical training Obi- Wan says “These aren’t the methods you’re looking for. You can go about your business. Move Along!”
Heed Obi-Wan Kenobi’s sage advice and look for different methods than what is sadly standard methodology in the majority of the dog training and behaviorist world. Over-excitement and escalated energy is the enemy of calmness. The only answers for fixing dog aggression are calmness and sociability. Don’t be fooled into mistaking escalated energy or over-excitement for dog happiness. A calm dog is a happy dog. It is nature’s way.
Don’t settle for just another clone trainer or training company out there using their same tired methods and getting their same poor results with your dog!
When looking for a training company make sure they aren’t clones! You don’t want just run-of-the-mill “treat and praise the dog every two-seconds” type-trainers. This is not a healthy relationship and often the training backfires later as the puppy matures and is now a colossal brat who won’t do a thing unless you have a treat! Also be sure the trainers are not just “dominate and beat the heck out of your dog” type-trainers. Both camps are to be avoided as they are too extreme and both unnatural methods!!!! Both sides will not cure real aggression or fear in your dog.
Work with your dog (or wookie) often. Build a relationship based on respect and trust and you two will be a smooth functioning team in no time.
Be sure to socialize and work with your pup or dog often. Give them loads of exercise. And remember, dogs are individuals and should not be treated in a cookie-cutter training manner. We have a vast galaxy with many diverse and wonderful dogs please give them credit for the amazing social intelligence they possess and build a healthy relationship. In the future you can ask more from them.
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Remember, the Force will be with you, always…
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