Slowing down has many benefits. It permits us to enjoy what is in front of us- begging for our undivided attention. It allows us to make better decisions, it calms frail nerves and it splendidly reminds us that while the clock is ticking we can choose to show up to live our lives.
So, what then might slowing down with our dogs bring? Besides the tremendous pleasure of becoming an observant of their most individual qualities, slowing down and making a habit of observing our pups can be a very important first step in seeing their world from their perspective. What is it that they like to do? When? Where do they prefer to lie? Do they lie on their side or belly up with four legs gently bending downward? Or perhaps the curl up in an almost perfect ball of fur. Are they sick when their food goes untouched? Or is it that the other dog in the household is perhaps harassing them and they cannot get to their bowl to eat?
Slowing down is not only pleasurable with our dogs, but it is indeed of paramount importance in understanding exactly what might be triggering in them a not so perfect reaction. Dogs are excellent discriminators and because of this, tiny stuff makes a huge difference to dogs. Besides being such discriminators, dogs also are always looking out for their safety, for a sense of comfort.
Their avid sense of discrimination is all good news when it comes to doing any behavior modification because as such we can hone via our training plan to the exact trigger or scenario that elicits that which we choose to change. On the other hand, the need to be so very precise makes behavior modification complex.
For my part, I love this aspect of my job. Paying close attention to nuances in a dog’s response and coming up with a training plan (s) to targets the specifics of what makes the dog uneasy or really afraid makes my work very enthralling. This is also where the rubber meets the road …If one does not give careful consideration to these tiny yet very crucial aspects of modifying behavior, the results will be paltry at best.
There is another aspect that is vital in addressing *exactly* what in the environment or the interaction is making the dog act in a certain way. Every good training plan has quite a few steps and sometimes these steps must be presented in a smaller dosage so to speak, so that the dog can learn and then perform. Not only will the dog’s confidence soar when they are successful BUT every single instance the dog gets it “right” the new and desirable behavior can be reinforced. And whatever gets reinforced (over and over again) the more likely it will become the default behavior.
I don’t know about you, but I have made the close and meticulous observations of my dogs one of the central themes in my life. I observe them often- daily!
My closing: almost intimate observations makes their quirks come to light. I also know their preferences and their small misgivings. My choice of slowing down and engaging in observing my dogs has made my life very rich. And can you think then of a better reason why one should keep in the company of dogs? I don’t!