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Dog Training as a Process of Entrainment

Leah Twitchell

The goal of training your dog should really be entraining your dog. To explain this, let's look at the meaning of entrainment as given by Wikipedia:

I've highlighted the definitions that I feel best describe the process by which your dog becomes "entrained." Another way to define entrainment is incorporation. When you train your dog you want to incorporate them into your flow, but by the same token, you incorporate yourself into their flow. Really the two things are the same, because in the end you will move as one--just as a pack of wolves essentially becomes one organism in the middle of a hunt, perfectly synchronizing their movements to that of the prey. 

There are many different exercises to accomplish this process of entrainment. One example is asking a dog to speak for food. The dog must exert a force by collecting and then projecting his breath. This force then acts on the owner, who gives him a cookie. The dog learns that he is able to move the owner via projection of force. Dog and human are then coupled through projection, movement, and finally ingestion. The two become entrained. 
We can see by this Google definition of ingestion, that when the dog ingests food, he's also absorbing information.
in·ges·tion
inˈjesCHən/
noun
1. the process of taking food, drink, or another substance into the body by swallowing or absorbing it.
"vomiting after ingestion of contaminated food"

2. the process of absorbing information.
"the quiet ingestion of information"
 
When we are training a dog with the core exercises, we are actually entraining his whole body, including and perhaps most importantly his breathto match the rhythm of our movement so that he always derives a sense of well-being from being aligned or in sync with his handler. This then translates to other people, other dogs, and his environment at large. 
With a more complex exercise, like the bite-and-carry, we are tapping into the dog's natural predatory drive. If we are able to channel his want of chasing, biting and apprehending the prey object, we can get him fully "trained." Then, even at his most intense expression of energy and in his most elaborate movements, he will still be moving in harmony with his environment and his owner. In other words, everything he does will be channeled into a state of flow and he will be able to tune into his handler even when highly stimulated by a prey object. This is why a process of entrainment is so important for developing a deeper connection with your dog.  

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1 comment

  • Beautiful.

    Mel O.

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