So there I was, with 3 dogs, a full-time job, a frustrating life (usual mid-life crisis stuff, there must be something more to this…). I thought it was manageable even then. 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, at least with one of them…… I was coping with the hounds – ok, Jack was still on the long-line and Logan still couldn’t be trusted off-lead, except in open spaces, but it was manageable.
In the meantime I was researching some ideas about developing a therapy business to do with our relationships with our dogs – not sure what but something based on my own journey. I am a trained bi-aura therapist and instinctively knew that our energy and our dogs energy are inter-twined. For good or bad, we are linked. If we have health problems, chances are our dogs will also suffer to some extent. This I knew instinctively but wasn’t sure how much was written on the subject. I started to google ‘dogs’ and ‘energy’ and I came across Kevin Behan’s site and his recently published book ‘ Your Dog is Your Mirror’. It sounded interesting so I ordered the book.
Wow, what a turning point for me in my journey. I’ve read the book twice now and go back to it often. There are loads of quotes that I can refer to, describing what was for me a paradigm shift in dog training. The one that stands out the most is the one that brought me to floods of tears – a sure indication that something has touched me deeply:
“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”.
This was key for me, I had always struggled with the dominance theory or the more softened ‘ be the pack leader for your dog’ but felt that it was a sign of my weakness, rather than a question over the dominance theory itself. Another quote, given earlier on the book seemed to set a strong guiding principle for me to adopt.
“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 itself can be applied to the strong relationships that handlers have with their working dogs (gun-dogs, sheepdogs etc) but maybe explains something we have lost with our ‘pets’.
Anyway, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to understand more. Further searches on Natural Dog Training led me to Neil Sattin’s site www.naturaldogtrainingblog.com and his DVDs, to learn more. I ordered the DVDs and Kevin’s earlier book and started out on my new journey.
As luck would have it my original plan for following the traditional gun-dog training was thwarted for various reasons. Although I considered this a set-back initially I now realise that it has been very fortunate. Marrying different people’s approaches is difficult to achieve and would have been confusing (poor Archie – good job he’s got a big heart) for me. But more fundamentally my understanding of ‘Natural Dog Training’ means that you really need to start feeling your dog, and how he makes you feel – borrowing another quote from Kevin
“….a person’s relationship with their dog mirrors everything they’ve ever felt within their heart”
and, sorry, but I just can’t get there by following someone else’s system or approach.
If you are at all interested in any of the story so far I would seriously encourage you to find out more yourself. My contribution, very much work in progress (‘action research’ in modern parlance) is if you follow my story as it unfolds, I share my experience in how it is working for me.
Its a shame for anyone I meet in the park these days when walking dogs, they get their ear well and truly bent. You can’t quell enthusiasm!