All things are connected. Nothing happens by itself. I can affect any dog’s behavior. These three thoughts are the foundation of my training method and practice. The third thought is a common thought for all dog trainers. If a person did not believe that they could affect or change dogs’ behavior, they could not be a dog trainer. The question here is how. How can I affect my dog’s behavior? How can I get my dog to eliminate waste outside? How can I get my dog to not pull on the leash? How can I keep my dog from “losing her mind” every time that she see another dog? How can I teach my dog to find my TV remote? For me the answers to these questions and questions like them are in the first two thoughts.
What does it mean that all things are connected and how does all things being connected help me train my dog?
To me the answer to this question is clear. We see it all around us. If you remove everything from around me, or if you removed me from everything else I would not exist for long. I am dependent on the environment, the things that are around me for my existence. The same can be said of a tree, a mountain, a dog, and even you. In order to describe yourself walking to someone who has never seen or heard of walking, you would have to describe your body, how your legs move. You would also need to describe the ground, direction, speed, gravity, and balance. All of these other things are what makes walking possible for you, and without them you cannot walk, but they are not the whole of walking. When an astronaut enters the vacuum of space he needs to take some of the atmosphere (environment) with him or he will expand out of his skin and die. He need to interact with air from the Earth to breath, and fabrics from Earth keep him warm in cold empty space. We affect our environment as much as our environment effects us. We breath in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide, plants take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. The atoms and molecules that passes through your lungs today could of passed through a dog in China yesterday, or Mark Twain 110 years ago.
We all share the same environment, we are all part of the same environment, and none of us can exist without it. So What? How does that help us to train our dogs?
When you pick up the leash your dog gets excited. If she is a high-energy dog she may start to jump around. If she is a shy or fearful dog she may freeze up, or hide. (If so, we can work on that.) Either way by picking up the leash you have changed her environment, and that small change in her environment changed her behavior. If you have a Labrador retriever, pick up his food bowl. I bet that you notice a difference in his behavior. Once again that small act, that small change in his environment has caused your dog’s behavior to change. Your dog associates you and the leash with a walk, you and the bowl with food. These are just simple two examples of how your actions affect your dog’s behavior. The same can be said for everything that you do near your dog.
From this dog trainer perspective the trick to canine communication is to notice what changes in your dog’s environment causes her behavior to change and learning how to predict what the change will be. You are the most important part of your dog’s environment. The smallest change in you is a change in your dog’s environment. Everything matters from the way that we stand, to our mood, from the food that we feed her to the way that we hold our leash. Everything is connected. Nothing happens by itself.
The secret is an old one and it work with everything in our environment.
Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power. –Lao Tzu