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    Thursday
    May122011

    Create your own dog karma

    One of my secrets to dog handling is also one of life’s little secrets....everything seems to flow effortlessly when there’s harmony.  In order to achieve harmony we need to be present.   Start this journey by cultivating the ability to let go of the stories we tell ourselves about what our dogs have done in the past (he always barks when people pass by), or how they might react to some future event (she’s afraid of big dogs).

    When we tell ourselves these stories we’re projecting ourselves into the past or the future... a place where our dogs have never travelled.  Your dog may be afraid of big dogs, but perhaps it’s also true that when you spot a big dog out on a walk you immediately decide to cross the street.  Your fist might unconsciously clench sending ripples through the leash.   It’s also possible that your dog may not have even noticed the big dog yet... but she sure does now... how could she miss it when we made such a big deal about it.

    Karma is the law that describes cause and effect.   Our actions of clenching the leash then leading our dog across the street not only teaches the dog to fear big dogs, it reinforces it.  How often do we find ourselves doing things like this?  It’s leading unconsciously by example.

    Consider choosing to walk up a driveway and expecting your dog to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’... wait... and smile when your dog spots the big dog.  Perhaps the big dog is calm because we’re far enough out of it’s way.  Maybe the dogs haven’t even noticed one another yet.  Chose to view the big dog as a friendly creature and send these ripples through the leash.  This creates our own karma.  It teaches our dog to be calm and relaxed and acclimatizes her to the human world.  Send your dog some love after the big dog walks by.

    Harmony is about making choices that leave no karmic impact...it’s about staying present and making intelligent decisions... and following through with actions that are guided by the heart.
    Tuesday
    May032011

    Teaching an untrained dog the "Stay" command

    I've known little Leo for nearly 8 months... but I've never done any training with him... and he's never really been trained before at all.  This is the thing with small well behaved dogs... because of their 'cuteness' it's so easy for them to go through life and never really learn any obedience skills.  Why would they need them?  They're so cute!

    In this video I show you an effective technique for teaching an untrained dog to stay.   I've seen many dog trainers teach the 'stay' command differently.... there's many ways up the mountain.  Find one that makes sense to you, and use it.

    I also think it's worth mentioning that many trainers feel that asking a dog to stay for 30 seconds off the bat is way too challenging for the dog.  When the dog is hyper or unfocussed, then I completely agree.  However, when a dog is calm, focussed, and he respects you (this is different than 'loves you') then something different happens... he wants to work for you and please you.  The challenge for trainers is simply identifying a set of conditions or rules (the simpler the better) and using them to shape a behaviour.

    I've encouraged Leo's mom to continue practicing this exercise... Leo will soon show mastery over this behaviour... then it's time to introduce the English command 'stay' and a hand signal (stop sign).

    Always praise joyfully and generously after your dog has worked for you.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-tmHdx4Y28&feature=channel_video_title]
    Wednesday
    Apr132011

    Meditation... Doggie Style

    This is a video of the pack during our afternoon meditation.  No... we didn't sit in a circle with our eyes closed and chant aummm... But we did find an object that was worthy of our uninterrupted focus (see the 47 second mark for a clue).  This allowed all the dogs to relax into the moment and let go of any anxiety or excess energy that they may have accumulated throughout the last little while.  You can literally see how relaxed and calm all 20+ dogs are.  Have you ever seen something like this at the dog park?

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sR_6Vettng]

    And here's a video of the reward after such an honest effort from the pack.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbtrzsvykqM]