Here and Now
As humans our thoughts are either in the past, thinking of what could have been or in the future thinking what may happen. How difficult it is to be in the now, appreciating what is, with no expectations but to live in the moment?
Dogs Here and Now
Dogs are great, aren’t they? They are in the moment. They know when it is feed time, when it is time to go and exercise and when you are coming home from work or going to collect them from playgroup!
What you see in that moment is what the dogs are feeling in that moment. Where their journey has taken them, to be where they are now. Are they confident, thriving and trusting happy dogs or has their journey been one of abuse, scarcity and lack? Wherever they have been, we owe it to them to be in this present moment with them.
Because when we are, we learn how they learn, we tune in our observation skills so our teaching skills are clear, precise and understood.
“Never discourage anyone… who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” – Plato
I have been reading up on neuroscience. As humans our ability to change a habit or behaviour takes 30 days. It takes that amount of time for the brain to build new neuro connections to make the change.
Paws For Thought
My question is how long does it take for a dog’s brain to install new skills or habits?
Do we implement enough consistent handling or training of our dogs to install the change of the habit or behaviour?
Do we get frustrated when the dog does not do as we ask, when we think we have trained them to do a certain task.
Do we take the time to see whether our dog understands what we are asking?
Do we get consistent results with the dog offering the behaviour?
With my experience of training guide dogs to guide safely in the environment, my assessment of each dog I worked with was ongoing, from moment to moment.
With teaching them, I did not have expectations of them, I acknowledged what they were giving me in the moment, which led me to understand how much they knew and how much more I needed to teach them.
This is what I know. Whatever the dog, whether working or companion, true success is acknowledging the small successful steps leading up to the outcome. I believe that if we miss these, then the dog will miss the important growth needed to make more definite internal neuro connections in their brain.
Allowing the dog to have a choice to learn, with supporting them to successful decisions, will increase their awareness and comfort in their environments.
Enjoy your dog!