When a dog act’s, or shows an action (what we call a behaviour) they are doing so because they feel something, they feel an emotion that drives them to act in that way.
Kind of like a pull towards something or a push by their feeling towards something in front of them, or whatever has their focus at the time the action (or behaviour) occurred.
As human beings this also how we behave. However, depending on our cultural upbringing we stop ourselves from taking actions, we let our minds override, or we learn to dampen or stop our feelings overtaking us and pushing us into an action or pulling us towards something.
Not every time though! How many times do we kick ourselves for acting the way we did, or judge ourselves for letting our feelings push us into an action that we believe we should have had some self-control over?
In fact thousands of books have been written about how we can learn to control ourselves, how we can overcome what drives us to behave or see the world the way we do.
Mostly these focus on our mind. Either blaming or highlighting the mind as the full driver behind what we do. In reality, it is still our Feelings that drive us.
Demonstrating this the Institute of HeartMath published a paper on an experiment that showed our hearts somehow react first to stimuli before our brains/minds even notice it!
The more we focus on our minds as the primary influencer of our reality, the more this can lead us to believe that it is the same for other creatures. We sit comfortably believing that all behaviour is simply coming from the mind, and that if we can somehow either understand, control or influence the dogs mind we can then change or stop any behaviour we like – whether we do this with ‘positive’ training or not.
Almost every dogs behaviour book highlights this, with wording such as canine psychology, getting inside a dogs mind, thinking like a dog or discussing the neurons in the dogs brain.
Yet Feelings are the ultimate driver of behaviours/actions.
What about those?
What would happen if we switched our focus to an understanding or a possible influence over those instead?
Would we create more lasting changes for our dogs? Would we get closer to them?
Or would we find ourselves unable to cope with them?
That of course is the fear.
If we switch to working with a dog’s emotions rather than their mind or brain do we have to come out of our comfort zone and understand our own feelings/emotions and emotional drivers too?
Let’s consider what a feeling is…
A feeling is a driver a push or pull to an action (crying, laughing, moving towards something) – it is an Emotion. An Energy in Motion.
As a moving energy force, an emotion is generated primarily by the heart*. It then has some influence over the brain or mind. But its root is in the Heart, literally measurable as an Electromagnetic field because it has a vibration, or resonance as HeartMath name it.
Different emotions or feelings show different measurements in our electromagnetic fields. Feelings of frustration or fear show up entirely different to emotions/feelings of peace or contentment.
Whilst we lucky humans can utilise our brain or mind to try to influence these feelings ourselves, our dogs are not able to reflect back on their behaviours/actions to judge themselves, reprimand themselves or to actively set a time of the day to practice overcoming their thoughts or heart rate rhythms.
They live in the moment, and simply act as they Feel, as their current emotion is guiding them to do so in each moment.
If we as owners or professionals can guide them to feel peace in as many moments as possible we are able to ensure the dog acts peacefully in as many moments as possible too.
There is no doubt that in certain situations a command or signal can be useful (sometimes life-saving) or fun and playful to have trained your dog to understand or act upon. But speaking in terms of behaviour modification rather than training a response to a signal my journey with dogs has shown me time and time again that if you switch to seeing all behaviour/actions as the result either a flow of energy (e’motion) or a stuck or restricted flow of e’motion/feeling you then suddenly see the real drivers and reason behind your dog’s action. Not only that, you are then able to influence the dog themselves rather than only the action chosen or the situation at the time.
You bring the dog closer to feeling, and thus acting, peace(fully). Rather than controlling (even if kindly) to create peace. This may appear a subtle difference but is overwhelmingly better for the dog, the behaviour long term – and for You.
I hope you are still with me at this point!
This is way out of comfort zones for many people. Yet as my practitioners and 3rd year of students are finding, this approach Works. (not to mention the clients and dogs too of course)
# It may appear too Simple – this can put some people off. We have been taught over and over again that intelligence is more important than emotion, that we are not as ‘good’ if we cannot think in certain ways. Western Society has valued the brain and mind extremely highly for a long time.
# You will learn about your own emotions too – this can actually be quite scary/off-putting for many people. (but is a fantastic opportunity to deal with your own ‘stuff’ too.)
# You will start to notice emotional energy exchange occurring in everything in nature, not just the dog! – this also can be a little weird as finally you start to get what people say when they quote ‘’everything is energy’’.
I could continue, and no doubt a book will enfold in the near future. But for now I invite you to discover more about Canine Flow.
Ponder on its place within dog behaviour, training and understanding and if you are ready to find out more:
Check out are website and our blog articles that go some way to highlighting how we create the peace our dogs deserve to feel.
Or reach out to a practitioner or student to see if you and your dog could be part of a case study or an exclusive RelaxDog ™ training class!
Caroline & all Canine Flow practitioners and students.
*links with the digestive system, cellular make up and hormones play a role too in a continual feedback loop with the Heart, that sits at the centre of it all.