The Connection Test: Are you merely an Interrupter to your dog?
We humans, able to be sneaky to cover up true feelings when needed. It’s the “easy button”, a way out of truth, conflict, shame, embarrassment or anger.
When we hit the easy button, we paint a smile on our faces, accept the hug you really don’t want, laugh at a joke that isn’t funny, avoid or ignore text messages or calls, make up excuses, redirect blame. We lie to get out of things we don’t want to do or stall for more time. Societal pressure makes us masters of the “easy button.” To be genuine and honest all the time is quite the task. It means geniality without manipulation or narcissism.
Your dog is a living breathing truth teller, incapable of lying. Lying requires thought and intention to cover up a past event that creates a “easier” future outcome. A dog lives in the moment. Their body movements tell their entire life story, each imprint stored like a sticky note, ready to access under pressure. Their body reactions tell the content of each sticky note. The body cannot lie.
Take a test. See how their body reacts to you in 5 different scenarios. The truth teller will inform you if you are an interrupter or do you have a true connection in that moment. The answer is simple, if your dog is stimulated by your presence, touch, or absence, you have problems. If your dog can self-regulate back to or remain at a state of well being with in your presence, with your touch or in your absence, you have no problems.
STIMULATED = Problems SENSUALIZE = No Problems
1. MAKE PHYSICAL CONTACT: Simply invite your dog to jump up on you for affection, without food or treats.
a. Stimulated: Dog won’t make contact or is hyper contact with bucking off.
b. Sensual: Dog makes and sustains contact allowing soft petting without bucking off.
2. BARK ON COMMAND: Look at your dog and in a sweetie pie voice, ask for a “speak” without food or treats.
a. Stimulated: Dog gets amped, jumps/bucks off, looks at you, but no bark or retreats.
b. Sensual: Dog can look at you from a stationary position and toss a deep metered bark, followed by full open mouth breathing.
3. PLAY TUG: Engage your dog in a game of tug of war with an object.
a. Stimulated: Dog won’t engage at all, mouths but doesn’t hold, gets amped, or shows no interest.
b. Sensual: Dog engages with a good bite/hold and tug, returning to a state of good breathing afterwards.
4. YOUR TOUCH: Offer your dog your hand for affection by placing on neck, back, hind end for soft massaging.
a. Stimulated: Dog gets amped up and body tense, dog jumps, licks or bites or just retreats.
b. Sensual: Dog softens the body into your hand for soft affection/nuzzling or even offers belly without excessive movement or body tension
5. WALKING ON LEASH WITH YOU:
a. Stimulated: Dog pulls away from you. You are an interrupter of energy.
b. Sensual: Dog stays close checking in, you are the conductor of energy.
I’ll summarize by saying my dogs are far from perfect. Cheyenne’s high-pitched bark when on the tie out will burst an eardrum. Bandit’s adventures in the laundry basket make for many trips to Target’s underwear section.
My hopes for this article is so you will see that stimulation = personality, anger, neediness, security, phobias, non-resilience under pressure and anxious dogs. Sensual = connection, genuine, social, adaptable, resilient and in a state of well-being. To rid of problems, it begins with connection building before adding cues or corrections.
Begin with drive training, then add obstacles and ALWAYS, in a state of conflict let them recover well with you. It takes the debate out of dog training as it doesn’t matter what you do, if your dog remains connected and stabilized by you always, no matter what. Has your training been able to accomplish this? If yes, kudos! You’re doing amazing. If no, let us show you how to get to that point.
Jeannie Oakley, Paw It Forward Dog Training
Canine Stability Center.