Building a Better Mindset aka “Making Dragons”
We generally have little control over circumstances in our day to day living. Things intersect our lives everyday so it is up to us to teach our dogs how to deal with things. Good things happen when they may least expect it, as does something that the dog may not like.
What if we could teach them how to deal with these things, how to make them feel more powerful in themselves and how to ignite a passion for everything they do. As my great friend Forrest Micke says, “Making Dragons”.
The one thing that we can help influence, is the dogs “mindset”. If we can teach them to be brave, to feel empowered, to try, to achieve, how strong does that make them.
Many of us micromanage our dogs. Help them with every little thing we feel they need. How many times have you dropped a food treat and then shown your dog where it is? We know how amazing their sense of smell is but because we micromanage them, they don’t have to figure out how to use it. What about letting your dog learn how to use its nose by teaching him how to detect something. Your phone, your wallet, dried tea leaves. There are some great new dog sports out like Noseworks which are loads of fun. Or teaching your dog to find you or a family member by playing hide and seek. They can do these things easily if we let them.
Think about what your dog is like when it is raining. Do they care about getting wet? Do they not want to go to the toilet because their feet may get wet? What if your dog saw rain as an opportunity for play? Our great friend Paul has conditioned his little staffy Abby that when there is a storm, games of tug of war happen. So, guess how powerful and in control she feels. No thunder phobia there and unfortunately, some staffies can be quite prone to this. Is it you that is teaching your dog that rain is no fun. It’s raining a little outside, what is your mindset? Do you not go out because you want to stay dry? We have a fun saying at The K9 Company, if its not raining, it’s not training. We will always train when it is raining (unless the grounds are unsafe). There is nothing wrong with rain. As a child, one of the most fun things i remember doing was playing in the rain. SO MUCH FUN! Then we get told to come in out of the rain before we catch a cold. Why? I used to play in the rain and then I would have a warm cup of milo to warm up! Mindset…!
Use free shaping as a training technique. Teach your dog to do something, anything, with you giving them no physical help at all. I did a great little video on how i trained my dog Zia to push one of our Doggie Doorbells. In less than 7 minutes of training (keep your sessions short), she was pressing the button on command and with an amazing attitude because she thought she had invented this game. Watch the video to the end and you will see what I mean) and by doing the behaviour, she truly felt she had control. She had power. She expected things to go her way. And they did. She was empowered !!
Don’t raise a “trust fund baby” where they expect room service all the time. Let us teach our dogs that there are circumstances in life that they can control. Make them mentally strong. Let them push you to work, not the other way around. Give them a “Dragon” mindset.
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