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The Importance of Neutral, Calm, Clear Energy

Developing neutral, calm, clear energy with your dog is essential to a successful training program. It helps the owner establish a presence that demonstrates clarity and guides the dog into new, more balanced behaviors. This is especially important in a behavior modi?cation program, in which we are working toward changing a dog's state of mind and perceptions. This starts with an attitude that is open and willing. From this place, we can learn to slow down, think clearly, and guide calmly. There are several key ingredients necessary to learn how to become calmer while working with your dog: Leaving baggage behind, learning to respond rather than react, and not being attached to a particular outcome. When we practice these daily, a new awareness begins to awaken, naturally bringing with it a sense of calm and neutral energy.

Hanging on to the baggage we've packed with our dog--believing our dog will behave in a certain way in a certain situation simply because he has in the past--is like carrying around a ball and chain. It drags us down and keeps us from seeing what is actually happening in the moment. It keeps us stuck in our resentment, frustration, and fear. It does not allow us to be neutral, calm, or clear while guiding our dog. It is vital to work with dogs using a fresh, clean slate, as if we are seeing our dogs for the very first time. We can start by questioning our assumptions and beliefs, asking ourselves whether or not they are true. We can observe our dogs, pondering what they are telling us in each new moment. Meeting our dogs in the here and now is where we will find our answers.

Learning to respond rather than react requires us to really slow down. Learning a new skill like dog training can be an awkward and humbling experience for many people. No one gets it "right" on the first try. We can remind ourselves that it is a journey into a new and possibly profound relationship with our dog. We can learn to be less judgmental with ourselves. We can start to learn to be more in tune with our dog and less concerned with the world around us. Standing tall with good body posture and showing no tension on the leash conveys a calm and confident attitude. Incorporating all of this helps us be more present, which means we are surprised less often and able to respond to each new situation with clear guidance. When we begin to accomplish this, we teach our dogs to be followers, which allows them to finally relax.

When working with our dogs, whether it be to sharpen obedience commands or to dig deeper into a behavior modification program, it is good to remind ourselves that every moment is new and dynamic. Deciding that there should be a certain outcome will most likely prove us wrong. Either the dog will do better than we imagined, totally surprising us, or they will let us down because we thought they were "over that." If we do not keep an open mind as to how our dog might act in any given situation, we cannot adequately guide them because we are out of tune with them. If we become overemotional, our dogs perceive us as unbalanced and/or weak. Learning to let go of our past perceptions and trust in our intuition can open a whole new world in the relationship we have with our dog.

We all want that special relationship with our dogs. Dogs, unlike most other animals, have an unconditional desire to please a leader. If we become strong leaders for our dogs, this special relationship happens naturally. An essential aspect of this leadership involves an attitude of neutrality that is calm and clear. Our dogs will always need our guidance, especially when learning new behaviors that are more appropriate in the world in which we are asking them to live with us. If we learn to provide this for them, our dogs will be forever grateful to us.

~Written by Beth Peterson


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