It turned out to be more than dog training. In my previous post I introduced readers to my problems of trying to manage three dogs and how it led me on a search for answers. This post describes how that I came across Kevin Behan, and for me, some light-bulb moments and how it meant so much to me.
So there I was, with 3 dogs, a full-time job, a frustrating life (usual mid-life crisis stuff). But I thought it was manageable. Once the pup got to a certain age I would be able to start gun-dog training and I would know what I was doing with that, because I would get expert help. Jack was still on the long-line and Logan couldn’t be trusted off-lead, except in open spaces, but I was coping.
I felt that my struggles with my own dogs had lots for me to learn from. I was sure there was some connection between our emotional and mental health and how we are with our dogs. We are all interconnected emotionally – both human-human and human-animal, and I wanted to get a better understanding of that connection.
I started to look for others working in this area. Searching for ‘dogs’ and ‘energy’ I came across Kevin Behan’s work and his (then) recently published book ‘ Your Dog is Your Mirror’. I ordered the book. Quotes in this post are from that book.
Wow, what a turning point. The book represented a paradigm shift for me with regards to dog training. One quote that touched me so deeply it had me in floods of tears:
“The dominance hierarchy imagines a social order or system in which the components are in fundamental opposition to themselves, one part needing to be repressed by the another. Yet we find such a system nowhere else in nature”.
I had always struggled with the dominance theory, but felt that was a weakness in me, rather than a question of the theory itself. Here was someone calling it out. Another quote set a strong guiding principle that made sense to me.
“When two beings want the same thing, they can communicate. And when two beings want the same thing that neither can attain on their own, they can connect. A want held in common weaves life into one network, a worldwide web of feeling”
The principle described can be witnessed in the working relationships that hunters and shepherds have with their working dogs. I wanted to learn how have that relationship with my own dogs.
Further searches on Natural Dog Training led me to Neil Sattin’s site , for some practical advice. I ordered DVDs and more books and set out to better understand this new way of thinking.
The biggest change in how I was with the dogs is that I started to pay attention to how my dog was making me feel.
“….a person’s relationship with their dog mirrors everything they’ve ever felt within their heart”
It turned out that paying attention to how I was feeling was much more profound than I would ever have imagined. If you want to read about specific examples from my own experience you can check out some of my other blog posts.’