Mindfulness Master in Dog Training

With so many emotive articles available to read on the styles of training people use when training their dog, It can be impossible for the regular dog owner, that simply want the best for their dog to know what to believe. This is Mindfulness

From words such as “force”, “dominance”, “alpha” to “purely positive” used in an emotive manner,  researching dog training and the different philosophies is a mind field.

If we look at some of the true responsibilities that are often overlooked when we get a dog, such as our responsibility to ensure we learn how to provide them with a living environment that is as stress free as possible via correct socialisation, training and obedience. In providing these opportunities to our dogs, we provide them with confidence, a level of understanding in this sometimes crazy human world and most importantly, a method of communication.

It is with these responsibilities in mind that I’d like to write about mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. If we approach all of our interactions with our dogs with a mindfulness approach, we are in a heightened state of awareness of how our behaviour directly impacts our dogs behaviour and their life in general.

I make a conscious effort to live my life, being present and aware of my surroundings and the interactions I have – Mindful.

This is an important factor with my work with dogs. Before I start to work with a dog (I’ll use my rottweiler, Zooka as an example) I like to have clarity on what it is I am going to be training or teaching him. The clearer my headspace is and desired end behaviour that I am trying to teach, the easier the learning process will be for Zooka.

It is this mindfulness state that allows me to read the intricate elements of Zooka’s body language and behaviour which tell me when and how to approach the situation at any given point.

New learning (for any species) is stressful. think of a time you were learning a new computer program, or when you first learnt to drive a manual car. This can be stressful enough without having the external factors of people watching or other traffic. However there are times when we need to be put under this stress to learn and gain resilience in order to move forward.

It is with this in mind, when I am training Zooka, I need to be mindful of when to apply appropriate amounts of pressure for progression, when to alleviate pressure to ensure his success and continued confidence as well as when to let him problem solve on his own verse’s offering him assistance during the process.

It is by being mindful in my interactions with Zooka (and every other dog I work with) that I can set them up for the best success, which builds trust, confidence and an overall positive experience for all.

So next time you interact with your dog, be it a cuddle on the couch or a training exercise, make the effort to be aware, conscious and mindful of each little thing that is occurring. Mindfulness matters…. Here is a list of some of the things that you can notice:

  1. Respiration
  2. Heart Rate
  3. Tail Position
  4. Body stature
  5. Paw Preference
  6. Eye contact
  7. Avoidance
  8. Frustration
  9. Motivation
  10. Distraction
  11. Arousal Level
  12. Drive

It is having a mindfulness approach to life in general you can gain so many rewards, I have seen this time and time again when applied in interaction with dogs.

So next time you are spending time with your dog, what will you notice?

One thought on “Mindfulness Master in Dog Training”

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