EMPOWER YOUR DOG
Empowerment training is about showing our dogs that the environment is something they can affect and control. Most training is about instilling control onto our dogs instead of showing them how to have self-control and understanding. In this class you will be establishing a history of reinforcement for choice, understanding, decisions and willingness to operate on the environment and the objects in it.
According to James O'Heare, in order to empower a dog you must teach him industriousness, persistence and creativity. Industriousness means that the dog is willing to work; industriousness is also the willingness and ability to engage with not only the human involved, but the environment itself. Industriousness also means to work hard and steadily, mostly ignoring distractions or finding that the work itself is more rewarding. This is the basic behind engagement with the human handler and without it, engagement is improbable.
Persistence is basically not giving up if the goal is attainable. Persistence is that quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by others. Persistence contains with it the ability to continue even though the motivators have disappeared. The goal and the rewards inherent in reaching the goal are important enough that there is no need for continued motivation.
Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. Creativity for our dogs can best be expressed as problem solving. Namely, how your dog responds to problems and new situations. Response to problems usually takes on one of three ways: reaction, surrender, invent. React and your dog is basically shutting down and letting motor patterns take over. Your dog is literally turning off the range of possibilities and perception s/he would normally have. Surrendering to defeat is also a shut down. Surrendering disempowers your dog from her capacity to solve problems.
Creativity is nurtured by freedom and stifled by the continuous commands, labeling of behavior, the necessity for human direction, and pressure to conform to an ideal that has little to do with the reality that is a dog and that restricts most dogs' lives whether they are working, sporting or just pet dogs. In the real world few questions have one right answer; few problems have one right solution; that's why creativity is crucial to helping our dogs live in our world with our rules.
The idea of choice immediately invokes the idea of a self directed intelligence analysing options and engaging in benefits analysis over some span of time. However, in working with our dogs and what we wish them to do, it takes two to make a choice. Most of what we wish from our dogs is not part of their evolutionary make-up. The behaviors we ask for may have some correlation to natural behaviors but the use we wish our dogs to put those behaviors to is part of our invented world, not the world of the wild. The choice is made both by the human and the dog. The human decides what behaviors and what outcome, the dog decides that the rewards are sufficient to do those behaviors in the manner the human is asking for.
On the other end of the specture, behaviors the dog chooses to do without consulting our wishes, those behaviors most consider naughty or disobedient, are due to a lack of willingness, a lack of affinity and a lack of communication between the human and the dog. This is mostly evident when the dog's behavior as a whole is disconnected from the human's vision of what should be. But there are always holes and weaknesses in our relationships with our dogs that are easily spotted by looking at the choice points of the dog.
Training should be an endeavor of setting goals, overcomeing challenges and turning failure into success. This can't be done if we are not invested in and taking responsibility for the process. When I run into a training difficulty I know that I wasn't paying complete attention. Had I really been paying attention, I would have noticed the tell-tale signals well before my dog disengaged. Even just plain engagement involves both the human and the dog.
From a dog's viewpoint, giving him the knowledge that he can choose to engage with us, instead of being forced to endure a training session, is nothing short of empowering. Establishing a foundation of choice establishes a foundation of trust. Trust cannot be earned any other way then being trustworthy and not "surprise" the dog with corrective measures.
Most people want their dogs to "listen" to them, basically meaning they want the dog to obey. But is that the best choice of how to work with our dogs? Dogs do what gets them things and don't do that which threatens their survival in any way, which means pain and fear. If the dog isn't cooperating it's imperative to ask ourselves what we might be doing wrong or not communicating. Communication is the most important reason why a dog doesn't "obey".
But by viewing training and behavior through the need for control and compliance, we ignore the more important areas of choice and self-control.
Drive: highly focused behavioral expressions of energy.
One could visit any protection, Schutzhund or police dog training facility, and because these trainers select from specimens bred to produce Drive, one will find dogs that are never dis-interested in working. A female dog in full estrus could be walking about the field, a field could be full of chickens running amok, the dog could have a torn ligament, but if the trainer has but a modicum of understanding about choice and drive, the dog will go at full speed toward the sleeve no-matter-what.
Drive is in the nature of an animal, however, as opposed to any other species, it is the most pronounced aspect of the canine mind. In my experience with dozens of litters, I have never known a healthy infant pup who wasn't always interested in nursing no-matter-what. I can't imagine a healthy wolf who isn't always interested in an available prey no matter what. Growing up I never knew one of my father's beagles to not be interested in the chase the instant my father took his shotgun out of the cabinet.
Therefore, if one learns to create choice with the drives that are inherent in a dog, they will be able to cultivate their dog's engagement, commitment and persistence to its maximum expression so that their dog will happily invest its last .01% of reserve into the prey object of their choice.
All of which means that the human creating these instances of maximum drive, giving the dog the means and space to choose and to create the path of that choice, becomes the center of that drive.
Dogs use their body to communicate visually, using the position of their ears, mouth, face, tail, hair, posture and position, to identify their emotional state. However,with variability among breeds, this is not always reliable. Postural signals change according to the dogs" emotion and mood flowing from one set of signals to another.
As we learn to interpret the exchange of body language and emotion between humans and dogs, we should bear in mind that any such exchange must serve some purpose for both participants. Because dogs use various postures to indicate their relationships to their environment, we need to recognize them as valuable clues about their emotional life; and we must not only recognize the signals, we must learn to assign appropriate meanings to them. Otherwise,we'll never get the most from our relationships with our dogs.
Both threatening and friendly signals help regulate canine social behavior. This social system serves to establish social status and preserve social unity. Many of these signals are instinctive and used without much voluntary control. Some signals are modified by the influence of experience. Communication signals are used to confirm or reject information received from others andserve the purpose of indicating one"s species, sex, sexual receptivity, status, and in general to negotiate social interactions.
There's a huge difference in how humans and canines interpret various actions. When some being violates canine social rules, often a growl or bite is issued. That's a problem since they live in a world controlled by humans, who while tolerating varying degrees of physical retribution/reactions from humans (spanking, slapping, hollering, sometimes more depending on the individual) do not tolerate such physical expressions from nonhuman animals.
Body language is nothing more than an external expression of an internal state. It is possible to change an emotional state by changing body posture and vice versa. This is why the advice to 'Stand up straight, smile and you'll feel better' actually works! In the case of aggression, imagine how hard it would be to be angry if you were sitting in a comfortable chair with your face and head relaxed.
Long before the invention of writing and the wheel, dogs began to shape the way humans lived. While societies are conventionally understood as populated by humans and nature is understood as composed of other creatures, researchers continue to explore the concept of companion species. Humans and dogs fates are intertwined in ways that the old distinction between domesticator and domesticated cannot be adequately addressed. The notion that the human being ends at the skin and that an animal exists as a tool to be exploited to whatever end the human intends is arbitrary and false. The story of humans and companion species involves much more than the exploitation of the dog's labor. Dogs (and horses) and humans live and have evolved jointly. Our species are bonded.
A bond is a close relationship that is established over time between two living creatures. It develops mutually and is a cooperative connection. Bonding is characterized by the formation of a strong attachment that involves many emotions. These include affection and trust among others The Human-dog bond is a deep connection between two species that exists like no other in the animal world. It matters not whether that bond is based on companionship or a working relationship, with commitment, communication, understanding and education, that bond can transcend the differences between species.
Always remembering that our dogs are living in a world that forces them to inhibit most of their instincts, and often don't have adequate means to channel their energy and frustration, building a deep relationship and bond is inherent in our history with dogs. But, in order to make it happen, you have to first define "it". You create a map for yourself, figuring out where you are starting from and identifying your strengths and establishing your goals. This is transforming in and of itself. Very few of us get this structured when left to our own devices and a good map is always a good start.
Stress is the body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When a dog feels threatened, his nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones which includes adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action. The heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and all senses become sharper. These chemical changes increase strength, stamina, reaction time, and enhance focus.
This is known as the “fight or flight” stress response and is the body’s method of protection. When working properly, stress helps your dog stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your dog’s life.
Stress happens every day for many reasons, including learning new things or practicing known behaviors to perfection. Without stress responses, your dog would probably not learn.
But beyond the comfort zone, stress stops being helpful and can start causing major damage to your dog’s mind and body.
Stress relief starts with a Functional Assessment which helps to structure the client’s and the trainer's understanding and prediction of the problem behaviors, and facilitates the design of a behavior-change plan that will be effective and efficient.
The stress relief program itself is a three or more day intensive biochemical and emotional rebalancing of your dog. So far with all case histories it is showing a more than 90% improvement rate of behavior issues.
The stress relief program is not a miracle cure - it is a mechanism which allows you to gain improvements which are sometimes rapid and surprising.
Running. Jumping. Playing. Problem solving. Dogs live for this stuff!
Exercise—for both mind AND body—should be fun for you and your dog. Through unique activites like swimming, NoseWork, obedience, balance ball exercises and more, we'll help you keep the joy in exercise.
Join one of our many classes and learn a new skill or explore a dog sport. Discover the power of a therapy ball to build strong core muscles that decrease the risk of injury. No matter your dog's age or mobility level, we have a class to meet his physical and mental needs.
Just as with our Service Dog program, we will teach each student how to creatively exercise dogs so that it is fun, fullfilling, and useful. There is no boredom with these exercises, they can be done from your easy chair or with your running shoes on.
In addition, most of these exercises are also structured games that we use in our programs, so not only are you exercising your dog, you are also teaching!
Imagine if our dogs can help us around the house. With our dogs doing the chores, life would be so much easier, right? Some trainers say we should give our dogs jobs in order to solve their behavior issues, and in reality, that is pretty much exactly what you should do. However, putting on a backpack and adding a jar of pickles for weight is not a "job"; it does not challenge the dog in anyway except physically.
Many dogs are trained to help the disabled. These assistance/service dogs are trained to help out around the house, doing things like opening the fridge, fetch objects, turning the lights on and off, alerting to sound and movement and so much more.
Dogs’ roles in society, which in the last 100 years became more of a companion then a partner, are again expanding. Dogs are companions and also assume special roles for assistance or therapy by volunteers or human health professionals. Many changes are appearing in new research findings and evolving regulatory and legislative updates around the roles of dogs in society. In addition to time honored jobs like search and rescue, herding, hunting and guarding the home place, dogs are even being used in therapeutic endeavors acting as helpers during play therapy.
Although most modern dogs are kept as pets, there are still a tremendous number of ways in which dogs can and do assist humans, and more uses are found for them every year. Most of those "jobs" are pretty specialized however, and the majority of owners have neither the need for a working dog or the time necessary to transport the dog somewhere to do it's "job". But teaching your dog to do the laundry helps you nearly everyday and you don't need to fire up the car.