Are You Making War?

Here’s a conversation for you...
 
JANE: Hey Gary. 
 
ME: Hey Jane - What’s poppin’? How’s Annie?
 
JANE: She’s been doing so well. All the things you told us had been working so well with her. 
 
Insert ear protection! Cue BIGGEST drum roll you have ever heard in your life!! 
 
JANE: But then we decided to…. 
 
ME: [thinking] Oh shit. 
 
Jane proceeds to tell me her problem…
 
Why is self-awareness such a struggle for so many? We spend so much time alone with ourselves, how come we don’t understand the motivation for our choices? (I’m in no way qualified to write that article. :))  
 
Is it so easy to fall back into what is comfortable over what is working when it comes to changing behavior in ourselves and our dogs? 
 
While attending a horse training seminar a few months back with the legendary horse trainer Buck Brannaman, I overheard him say in his wise cowboy draw...You’ll be surprised how fast a little bit turns into all the time. 

I was like OHHHHH SHIT!!!! cowboy mic drop. This is Lesson One. 
 
It was a reminder for me, as a human, how easy we can rationalize something in the moment for our instant gratification not realizing the slipperiness of the slope. Like Jane from above.
 
Just this one time today a little pet on the head wont hurt anyone. (It does)
 
Poochie was so good yesterday so he can come on the couch. (It won’t be long now)
 
He has been so good lately let’s take him out today and throw the ball a bit. (Gary, he went after our little dog again. Why?)
 
The fact is once a client does something I didn’t ask them to do, I have found, it’s usually something that they did before, that in one way or another caused the problems they originally sought help for (shhh... and satisfies what they need.) We as humans are wired to avoid discomfort. Embracing uncertainty is hard, but it is a life skill muscle that with use gets stronger and stronger. 
 
Don’t undermined your progress. Stick with it. If you need a pep talk hit reply and let me know what is up. I respond to everyone!
 
Lesson Two
 
Later in the day as Buck was hopping on his horse he dropped another nugget of wisdom: 
 
As a rider, you must slowly and methodically show your horse what is appropriate. You also have to discourage what's inappropriate, not by making the inappropriate impossible, but by making it difficult so that the horse himself chooses appropriate behavior. You can't choose it for him; you can only make it difficult for him to make the wrong choices. If, however, you make it impossible for him to make the wrong choices, you're making war. 
 
This is something my clients are familiar with. This concept changed my life and how I work with dogs when I was awakened to how nature really works. Consequences are a part of life. For humans, dogs, all living creatures.  
 
What I interpreted from Buck’s horse seminar was to offer dogs choices. One more difficult (the wrong choice), and one easier (the right choice). 
 
Consequences are a law in nature. Good choices get rewarded, and bad choices are learned from or you get your face eaten off by a crocodile while you are day dreaming while drinking from a stream. Chase or be chased. That’s nature.
 
What have I learned that makes war: 
 
- Not understanding your dog’s nervous system and its role in the problem.
 
- If the problem behavior is learned, how was it accidentally taught? Where is the miscommunication? 
 
- How a dog views their world mentally and physically means a lot. 
 
- What is natural to the dog emotionally? The “why” behind the “do.”
 
Do either of Buck’s quotes resonate with you? 
 
Head Rubs and Belly Scratches
 
Gary

Elijah SzaszComment