How on earth can an Oprah famed movement have a massive impact in your dog training?
Oprah named it the light bulb moment, or the Ah-ha moment.
I see it on my clients face when new wisdom permeates that airspace between human and dog, usually only visible to us in the form of the lead.
But what if there was more to it? What if you could see and apply more wisdom into that space and create a massive change.
What if for a moment, a person that loves their dog immensely, consciously did the following for their dog…
Put aside their ideals, put aside social conditioning, put aside anything they have been taught and thought just for a moment, to consider another realm.
(*side note: It’s not always easy to consciously put these things aside as they’re driven by emotions and it’s your emotions that motivate your thoughts and behaviour and the ego gets wrapped up in it)
But if you can entertain this idea for the love of your dog and see if there may be a Light bulb or Ah-ha moment for you, having a massive positive impact on the relationship you have with your dog and the training as a result.
So lets’ walk (well-read) through this together…
Let’s start with some examples.
EG 1) A Horse. We all seem to have a base understanding that we don’t just get a horse, throw a saddle on it, wack on a bridle and expect the horse to cooperate and work with the reins. Someone has to teach the horse and teach it how this human-invented equipment works, thus building confidence in the animal and creating a relationship & communication system between rider and horse.
EG 2) A Car. We also seem to easily accept that we have to teach our children to drive. Teach them how to change the gears, use the clutch, accelerate, brake, indicate etc. We have to learn special awareness in regards to the size of our vehicle and how to manipulate it down streets, alleys and into car park spaces.
Now keeping these 2 examples in mind, let’s look at our best mate in our dog.
We get a dog, wack on a collar, clip on a lead, take them out and about and fight with them the entire time as they pull us down the road.
Is the dimmer switch on that lightbulb starting to flicker and become brighter?
Sure we may take our dog to a well-intended puppy school, where your puppy may get to play with other dogs and you get to hear about products and services. You may even get your puppy to sit, lay down or even learn a party trick and shake hands.
But how much time have you spent teaching your dog to wear a collar and lead that you keep a hold of?
Is more of the time spent fighting and arguing with you and that airspace taken up with the lead or are you patient and understanding that you have put equipment on your dog and that we owe it to our dog to teach them how to use it, just like we do a horse, just like we do learning how to drive.
I grew up in an era wherein almost every household that had a dog, you’d hear mum or dad saying “If we get a dog, you have to walk it” or when you ask if can go to a friend’s place or play a game “Have you walked the dog yet”.
But where in our social conditioning was “Have you spent time teaching the dog, training the dog how to use the lead” or “Does the dog understand how to walk with a lead yet or are you just fighting with D-Fer the entire walk inadvertently reinforcing the fight and the pulling”?
So my point is, It’s not about the piece of equipment you use, it’s not about whether you have been conditioned to think it’s cruel nor is it about buying and trying every single piece in the store that the pet shop will sell you and it’s definitely not about simply drugging the dog to sedate their behaviour.
It’s about having a holistic approach, meaning looking at it from all angles. Considering things from your dogs point of view. Accepting that as people, it’s our duty of care to advocate for our dogs best interests by considering things that may not be as they first appeared because our amazing dogs see and experience the world completely differently from us.
What if you changed that space that connects you with your dog, change the lead it used & experienced not only by you but so importantly understood and experienced by your dog.
I’d like to thank the beautiful rescue dog, that I was honoured to work with this week, that embraced a new way of thinking, therefore a new way of behaving for the inspiration for this post. To her owner, who never gave up and reached out for help and was so adaptable to allowing this new space of mutual confidence and understanding to grow in their relationship and for the calm loose lead walks that resulted in their mutual trust in the process I was able to take them through. You can check out our 1:1 dog training for your dog here
Working with people and their dogs is a gift to my soul as I see the dynamics in their relationships grow and evolve mutually.
I am not the same trainer as I was when I started 17 years ago, nor should I be. To honour and serve Lily and the hundreds, the thousands of people and dogs I am blessed to work with, I too continue to study, learn and evolve. Integrity in dog training is a value we hold highly when it comes to working with your dog and ensuring we offer the best methods and practice
So when I hear that voice ring from the past “Have you walked the dog yet” I smile with a full heart and say “NO, but we’ve been on an epic date, aka spent conscious quality time together, had fun and learnt together how to be a team and it was the best day ever”!
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