Sunday, June 8, 2014

Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone?

I don't know if this is actually a thing or if it just works for me. But in case it might help somebody else, I'm sharing it.

Working with a reactive dog requires remaining calm. Being at peace. 

For me, that is an enormous task. What I really am is a worry on legs. Playing training games at home, where there is nothing to worry about, is one thing ... Throw reactive dog training classes into the mix. What is a bundle of nerves such as myself to do?

Strangely, I found that once I get to the class, I get into a zen zone.

I actually am calm. Which is  a very good thing. I was curious, though, how does that happen. Trying to analyze it, I think I figured it out.

Cookie in the center, playing a decoy dog under the tree.

While, of course, I need to keep track of what is around me--where the other dogs and people are and what they're doing--I realized that almost all my attention is fully focused on Cookie and keeping her doing what I want her to be doing. Everything else kind of becomes a background.

Hubby says he's waiting for me to start running into trees.

But since that hasn't happened, I guess I know where they are.

I find that focusing on Cookie keeps me from focusing on the other dogs and imagining all the things that could go wrong. Thoughts such as "is this dog getting too close?" "Is Cookie going to handle it properly?" "What if that dog lunges against Cookie?" just don't have a place in my mind.

Look where you want to go.

Hubby says that when driving a car, you will go where you look. If you stare at a tree, you'll drive into it. While it's seems to be a natural instinct to focus on the problem, doing that ends up in a car crash.

When I fully concentrate on Cookie, keeping her focus and positive disposition, on what she is doing, I'm not looking at the tree.

And as it turns out, doing that, I am calm.

I have no problem being patient, being positive and encouraging ... and all that good stuff. It seems that this way I can also remain perfectly calm. Yay!

Now I just need to figure out how to translate this into the rest of my life.

How do you find your zen when working out a problem?

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Observation Skills Of Dogs  
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It  
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks 
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?
Are Dog Training Classes Really For The Dogs? 


  1. This is exactly the kind of thing I would tell nervous about the ring Rally students happens; you just focus on your dog, your teamwork and partnership, and all the people watching, even the judge, just fade into the background. It's just you and your dog doing all the stuff you love to do together... but please don't hit a tree! :)

    1. Maybe I should consider a helmet LOL