Ruminations

Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, May 16, 2014

Dog Training Tip: Prevent Dog Fights and Anxiety - Just Breathe


Dogs in the same household that are getting in to fights are doing so for very specific reasons - this is true regardless of whether you can or cannot identify a reason for the fight. The same is true for other reactive behaviors such as separation anxiety and other out-of-balance behaviors. The triggers to behavior can be very obvious and very subtle, so to solutions. When it comes to dealing with behavior resolution learning to use good communication skills and psychological intervention supports the best of outcomes. Dogs use multiple methods to express how they are feeling, thinking, observing, reacting and communicating. Dogs are very intelligent, insightful observers and communicators - much more so than many people realize. That saying you 'can't fool a dog' is not just an old saying - it is a reflection of reality. So how do you make this truth work for you? Well, you learn to be a better communicator. Breathing is a form of communication on its own, one that dogs are acutely aware of. When used consciously and deliberately to express a state of being and to provide direction, breathing is an effective way to dispel tension, stop unwanted behavior before it occurs and calm your dog. In tense and/or otherwise excited situations, inattentiveness to how you are breathing can create heightened states of anxiety and reactivity in your dog and can trigger fights between dogs.

Dogs are insightful, conscious observers. As technology evolves our human senses are increasingly flooded with stimuli - we see, we hear but we do not consciously observe. This loss of 'sight' is a significant factor in the development of serious, unwanted canine behaviors. The good news is that we can cut the loss and gain positive momentum by retraining ourselves - conscious observation and use of breathing is a very useful place to start.
Is Your Dog Expressing Comfortable Joy or Discomfort and Anxiety?

Is Your Dog Expressing Comfortable Joy or Discomfort and Anxiety?

Have you ever noticed your dog's breathing change when your dog's attention is focused on an object or activity of interest? How his/her breathing changes depending on the situation? Think of your dog's physical state of being when you - have just come home; are about to go on a walk or a drive; are about to approach people or another dog; are about to give your dog his/her meal or do something else that your dog loves to do. Is your dog breathing quickly, loudly with mouth wide open - panting? Can you hear the sound in your memory? Is the panting a reflection of pure happiness? Is his/her panting reflecting a combined state of excitement and anxiety? Is his/her painting a reflection of pure anxiety? If you are not a conscious observer you might not even notice the panting let alone the different nuances. How about your state of mind and being? Are you distracted at those times? Is your mind racing forward to the next tasks of your day or anticipating your dog's negative behaviors? Are you annoyed with your dog's excitement? Is your breathing hurried, is your breathing constrained, is your breathing deep and relaxed? Are you a conscious observer of your own state-of-being? Is your dog just doing as you do?
Is Your Dog Fixated, Body Stiff, Breathing is Silent?

Is Your Dog Fixated, Body Stiff, Breathing is Silent?

Do you have a dog that is exhibiting aggressive-reactive behavior? Have you seen your dog go suddenly stock-still? Have you felt the silence, the absence of a breath - inhaled or exhaled? That sudden stiffness and absence of breathing is a communication that your dog is about to act/react. In this case you have split seconds to provide the right direction to your dog. You have probably stopped breathing too, your hands are probably clenched - your mind and body are tense. Your dog is following your direction. You need to breathe instead...

DID YOU KNOW?
Breathing is a form of communication on its own, one that dogs are acutely aware of. What you don't know can trigger fights and heightened anxiety. Learn how to use this natural means of communication to direct your dog, diffuse tense and/or otherwise excited situations...
Breathing is Leadership

Breathing is Leadership

You want your dog to calm and you want your dog to listen. True leadership requires that the person leading be willing and able to be that thing first that they want the other being to be. You need to breathe. Breathe - not a surface breathe a real deep conscious breath. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth - close your eyes and think of nothing but that breath while breathing in and out. Notice how you feel - did you forget about everything else for those split seconds? Did you forget to be worried, did you find peace for a second, did you feel grounded - calm. If not breath again - in through your nose and out through your mouth, this time close your eyes as you breath. Now did you feel grounded?
How Can Breathing Help You Direct Your Dog?

How Can Breathing Help You Direct Your Dog?

When you breathe as per my instruction above you are, for those seconds grounded - your own anxiety, anger, frustration, tension, anticipatory thoughts forgotten. Everything changes for that second - your body language, your thoughts, your eyes, your face and even your scent may change. Tension is released. In that moment of that breath you become what you want your dog to be - grounded, relaxed, rational , calm and comfortable, confident and logical - a well balanced range of normal. Now you have something worthwhile to say to your dog - but don't speak, just breath - this is the language of a dog, this is natural wisdom.
Now Breath for Your Dog

Now Breath for Your Dog

Stand or sit near your dog and breath as instructed above. While you breathe observe your dog. Did your dog look up at you? Did your dog's ears move but he/she did not look-up - either way your dog was listening, taking note. Try doing this when you are at one end of a room and your dog is at the other. See if your dog looks at you or if his/her ears move just the slightest amount. If your dog is calm your dog will hear you breathe. Did your dog come to see you when you breathed? Did you observe your dog relax after you breathed? If you have a dog that is currently in an anxious state your dog may not 'hear' you the first time you do this.
Now Apply This Communication Technique to Daily Life with Your Dog

Now Apply This Communication Technique to Daily Life with Your Dog

When you are about to give your dog a direction - i.e. 'sit', take a deep breath before you direct your dog with the command 'sit' or before you use a hand signal for sit. After the command is given take another deep breath. Don't repeat the command. Just wait, don't speak - you can take another breath to reinforce and hold the command. By doing so you are exercising patience, self restraint, self-awareness, self-discipline. You are quite, non-reactive, grounded, attentive, consciously observant and directive. You are communicating logically. You are being that thing that you want your dog to be. You are directing as a well balanced dog would direct another dog. You are consciously communicating instead of verbally and emotionally reacting. Now take this communication skill and apply it to every situation where you are currently - or should be directing your dog(s). Train yourself to do this consistently in all low-level situations. By doing so you develop a positive and reliable habit and the presence of mind to use breathing to communicate with your dog in mid-level to high-level situations.
Help Your Dog Break Bad Habits

Help Your Dog Break Bad Habits

Stay connected with your dog. If your dog has a habit of barking at every sound, at the door bell, at a passerby, if your dog is tense when passing another dog cue your dog to relax before he/she reacts. Take a deep breath so your dog relaxes rather than stiffens. Timing is everything - to support good timing you need to be a conscious observer. Breath for your dog - concentrate on your breathing (instead of anticipating and thereby creating trouble). Listen to your dog's breathing and watch your dog's ears - if you hear breathing begin to intensify, if you see ears stiffen, it is time for you to take an even deeper breath, it's time for you to make sure you don't have any tension in your hands, your body, your mind. By doing so you direct your dog to calm and still.

Do as I do, be as I am - natural wisdom, a dog's natural way.

Some of the dogs in the photos above are some of the dogs in my own dog pack.

Labels: , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

 
()() Follow @rheytah Tweet