“It doesn't matter to a dog what its owner says, does, or thinks; all that matters is what happens to the owner internally on the deepest level of emotion
..........Kevin Behan's, 'Your Dog is Your Mirror'
I have had Jack from a puppy and through all 5 years of his life I have been struggling to develop his recall to a level where I can allow him some off-lead time.
Before I started following NDT (Natural Dog Training) I would only let Jack off in a secure field that I have had fenced or my back garden, where I know he can't get out. When off lead, he could be enticed back with dog treats 50% of the time, but the novelty would wear off – and if left to his own devices for any length of time, he would switch off from me, get his nose down and find something more interesting to do – like digging up a nest of field mice, or air scenting for bigger prey. If his nose went down, the only way of getting his attention was going up to him and physically moving him with the lead – and even that was often met with stubborn resistance. I was not interesting enough to him – or that's how I was interpreting it anyway.
Once I started to get the hang of pushing for food things started to change. He stayed engaged with me for longer periods – I could get his attention back more often, although not all the time. I would see him air-scenting and then look to me for 'push for food'. Although not fool proof yet the behaviour is a really big advance in what I had achieved up until then. After the first few weeks of progress with NDT I invited a dog behaviourist friend who had been helping me, to see the fruits of our efforts. As Jack looked to me she expressed amazement at how this was the first time she has seen us interacting so well together. Alll that hard work was starting to pay off......
At that moment, with Jack focussed on me I realised that there really was a change in his behaviour, it hadn't been a fluke. I started to see that my goal might be achievable. I should be elated, ....but the feeling that came up for me was really unexpected, ...a negative feeling. It was something along the lines of panic – 'eek, if my dog is looking to me to provide his focus, entertainment, leadership (?), how am I going to handle that responsibility?'. For the first time in 5 years of striving for this goal, I was shown in that moment that at a deeper level, inside of me, there was something that was making me scared of achieving the one thing I thought I wanted.
So more work for me, again! But the good news is, once uncovered, these things can be worked through, because awareness is half the battle. My goal is to have Jack watching a deer in the garden and run to me to play 'push of war' as in Kevin's video clip
I would love to hear of your experiences where your dogs' behaviour has helped you discover something deeper about yourself.