Mirror, mirror on the dog: A training fairy-tail
Observe a master and his dog walking down the street — leash in hand, draping loosely toward the four-legged companion at his side. They both walk proudly, never breaking stride, in perfect balance with each other — an unbreakable team; demonstrating strength, discipline and allegiance to one another.
The leash is a symbol of leadership, trust and structure. It is a tool that can tether two souls for a moment of leisure in an otherwise hectic day.
Once mastered, a walk is the single most gratifying activity you can do with your dog. But how does one make this “fairy tail” a reality?
There is not any one simple answer, but there are a couple of important tips that I know to be true through my own experiences.
1: Relax! A leader is in control of his energy. Take a deep breath, dig deep and practice the three Cs: consistency, composure and confidence. If you let your energy run wild, so will your dog. Your dog reflects your energy right back to you. Imagine he is your mirror. If he is stressed and anxious, it is likely that you are transmitting tense energy. If you feel tense or are going through a stressful day, it is best to avoid doing a lot of training with your dog until you feel more yourself.
Eat some mood-enhancing food. Take a hot shower and a nap. Drink some wine — not the whole bottle — and revisit training. If you don't notice a difference in your dog's behavior, try the second tip.
2: Less talky, more walky. Dogs tend to respond to our actions more than our words. If your dog just plain doesn't listen to you, it is possible you have asked him to understand a language that he just doesn't know.
A dog is a mirror — a mirror of energy, not scholastic aptitude. They are not fluent English speakers. They need a little help.
As much as we see ourselves in them, we must stop personifying our dogs. We must remember they are canines. I don't know about you, but I didn't sign up for a little four-legged human with fur running around my house complaining about the economy and telling me my cooking is iffy. I want a loyal, cuddly, comical, ridiculous, slobbering, biscuit-chomping, toy-squeaking, fun-loving, wet-nosed ball of crazy adoration.
That's why we love them. They are God's gift to man, sent to us to make us stop taking ourselves so seriously and enjoy our lives — and forget about our sketchy cooking skills and our nation's economic status. So let's stop trying to categorize them with humans because they have their own incredible purpose in this world.So how do we break their language barrier? Start with “woofed-on-phonics.” Return to basics, and try this technique. Try doing drills in which you do not say a word. Use your body language and energy to address your dog. Move with intent. Be focused, calm and quiet. You will be amazed at how compelled your dog will be by the silence. Communication through energy, trust and respect is a language that transcends species, cultures, generations. Energy is infectious.
Remember a mirror reflects an image. What you see is up to you.
Andrea J. Lamping trains dogs in the greater airport area, including Sewickley, Moon, Robinson and Hopewell. She can be reached at 724-984-7829 or visit her website at www.moon-walkers.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pileup sends 2 to hospital, shuts down highway
- Gilded Age estate opening to public for Sewickley Garden Tour
- Sewickley to replant trees; Wolcott Park gazebo heading to Quaker Heights
- Sewickley theater gets council’s green light
- PNC Park serves as church for Sewickley priest
- Sewickley teen organizes TEDx talk
- Leet girl’s treehouse forced to come down