What The Dogs Taught Me about Dog Training by Maryam Balbed from USA.
I became a Positive-Reinforcement dog-trainer in 2010. I trained hundreds of dogs and taught many other people how to be dog-trainers for a large pet supplies company. I was very successful in selling dog-training classes for the company, as well as in customer satisfaction.
But the more I came to know the beautiful dogs I was working with, I began to have nagging questions in my spirit about whether or not we were really giving them what they really needed.
Most dog-training classes are structured around the idea of teaching a set number of behaviours, such as Sit, Down, and Stay on command. They learn to walk on a leash to the Heel command, how to Come when called, and how to resist the urge to eat a treat that was placed in front of them.
(Treats and other positive reinforcement such as affection, are repeatedly associated with the behaviours we’re encouraging in the dogs.)
The idea that this is all predicated on, is that if you teach a dog these basic behaviours, you will have a polite and well-behaved dog.
The truth is every dog already knows how to do these behaviours, and will do them without reinforcement if you ask in a way the dog can understand – IF the dog is calm, and IF there’s a strong relationship with the human.
Dogs are brilliant and they want more than anything to please their humans.
When dogs don’t do what you ask, it’s because they don’t understand what you want, OR because they can’t do it because they’re stressed. Stress makes dogs unable to do what you ask.
I’ll give you an example of how dogs already know what we retrying to teach – Polite Leash-Walking/Heeling.
Dog-trainers teach dogs to not pull on the leash and to walk beside their human, to a command, near the level of the human’s heel.
Yet I have found that if I click-click-click a dog-training clicker in a steady rhythm, to match the pace than I’m walking and even the music I’m listening to, the dog will walk in exactly that same pace, and the dog will heel – even if I’ve never taught the dog to heel.
I can only understand a little about how magically a technique I created works, but it does work – I’ve taught this to a huge number of dogs and I’ve yet to meet one who didn’t immediately respond to it, even a Bloodhound who pulled on the leash like a horse.
Here’s what I do know about how this works – it’s about entrainment, as with humans, the dog will organize itself around any rhythm it hears. We’ve seen dogs on YouTube ‘jamming’ to music, nodded her head in perfect rhythm with the sound.
Also, we know the sharp sound of a mechanical device (such as a clicker) reaches a dog’s old brain, the amygdala, and dogs seem to have a visceral reaction to hearing that sound.
Those things may explain why dogs are so responsive to a clicker being clicked rhythmically and continuously, but they still don’t explain how the dog naturally heels with no one asking for or teaching that behaviour?
In my mind the biggest problem with limiting dog-training to a set of behaviors is that we’re not necessarily addressing the information that’s most needed by humans – an understanding of the emotional life of dogs, and what’s happening with that – because that is where dogs live. All the time.
So How is the Rhythm Dog Training working?!
How awesome is Maryam?! Its heart warming to find more people who are waking up to the limitations of the dog training mostly used.
I happen to know Maryam is very keen on Jazz music working to promote Jazz events across NYC and other nearby states, so this girl has soulful rhythm! Is it any wonder dogs respond and can be trained with her soulful musical rhythms.
In her story above Maryam wondered; How does the dog naturally Heel through the rhythmic clicking – with no asking or teaching that behaviour? She even emailed me to ask.
I sent Maryam this reply to her question and we have formed a bond. I hope the reply means something to you too.
How does the dog naturally Heel through the rhythmic clicking – with no asking or teaching that behaviour?
The dog is a being of information, information that is held as different vibrations or frequencies – and so are you. In fact all of life is basically made up of different frequencies.
Smell is a vibration, the vibration is ‘read’ by the dogs nose as a piece of information, and sound too is heard and more importantly Felt by the cells of the body, not just the mind.
Sound and rhythm are frequencies. Cell walls are full of receptor points for emotional molecules and these can ‘read’ the frequencies that sound or another beings rhythm is when nearby to them. It can be described or imagined that the cell walls vibrate at different frequencies and the sound vibration passes by vibrates alongside influencing the cell itself. This is one of the reasons why music is a whole body experience and why research into altering the feeling we feel shows we then influence those around us. The cell is literally ‘hearing’ the music at its vibrational core.
(If you get time check out Dr Emoto’s photographs of water after being played different types of music, and Dr Candaces Perts books that offer deeper fuller, research science explanations of this. Its not in question anymore, cells and frequencies and all the magic that opens up has full science behind it. – its just not shared with the masses.)
To continue with what is happening for the dog and person walking with the clicker rhythm.
It would be wholly possible to harmonise you and your dogs rhythms in sync by doing the clicking, we know now that all cells in the body ‘hear’ music, its not just the mind interpreting something. The dog doesn’t make the decision to change its step pace or to do what we label as Heel it simply reacts physically at the cell level to the rhythm you create.
It happens so quickly the dog won’t even be able to think about the fact its doing it, it’ll just happen.
I guess its very much like 2 people walking along together chatting who end up in step with each other – they didn’t think about doing it, it just happened because of the cells being able to sense each others rhythm.
For me the biggest revpawlution is that our dogs do not act with their minds, they act with a feeling they live in this wonderful vibrational world, which we as great thinkers just find almost impossible to imagine living in.
It’s that less thought, less ‘over thinking world we are encouraged to return to by many of the worlds greatest spiritual teachers, almost every Hay House book attributes benefits to centering, awareness of feelings and quietening the mind.
Here Mary has shown us a quite wonderful lesson that dogs also give us to do so.
Our world is actually much simpler than we make it.
Dog Training included!
Maryam is a Dog-Trainer in NYC who is available for dog-walking and other pet-sitting. Regular walks and training walks are available. firstname.lastname@example.org