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The Non-Duality of Dog Training

What I've learned so far in my dog training career, is that everything we do with dogs, at least everything that actually works, is counter-intuitive. Do you want your dog to stop barking? Teach him to bark on command. Want your dog to stop jumping on strangers? Encourage him jump on you. Want your dog to be social as opposed to aggressive? Let him play aggressively, even let him WIN the tug toy (a dog who feels good in his natural drive state will not display unnecessary aggression). Want your dog to be soft? Encourage him to bite hard. Want your dog to bite hard? Help him to be soft. If you want your dog to come, he has to learn how to stay. And if you want your dog to stay, he has to learn how to make contact (build drive to handler). The list goes on...

Basically everything the dog does is one half of a yin/yang equation. Soft-mouthing is the equal opposite of hard-biting. Down-stay is the opposite of come-when-called. Barking on command = commanding not to bark. So whatever it is your dog has difficulty with, you can actually work on that issue by working on the opposite action. Does that make sense?Because the opposing actions are two sides of one coin.

This can be frustrating at times, because we often think we can use human logic and simply ask (or lightly coerce) the dog to do or not do whatever it is we want. We would like so badly to just be able to use human language to reason with them. But dogs don't have human language/logic. They have a different logic: that of body language. So whatever state of mind or behavior you want to elicit, you have to translate this into doggy body language. 

This is where the healing power of movement comes in, and why we call ourselves the Canine Movement Lab! Everything to the dog is movement, even not moving is just getting ready for more movement. So a down-stay is just another iteration of go-forward. And everything is on a spectrum... You want your dog to be able to perform the full spectrum of a particular behavior, and when they can, you know they have mastered that skill or behavior. This is why we call our training holisitic. Each little action or behavior is a piece of a puzzle, perhaps a thousand-piece puzzle that can take years to put together. This is at the same time the greatest joy and biggest challenge of dog training--hence the non-duality!

 

 

 


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1 comment

  • I wonder if they do the opposite because they’re responding to our unconscious, shadow side? ?

    Joanne Frame

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