"Dogs Do Go To Heaven!"
Divine Dog Training
Some people get inspiration from stories, some from nature.
Dogs find both inspiration and purpose in a job well done through training.
The dog’s owner is inspired to be a great teacher and learns how to earn leadership.
The dog learns to love its owner even more.
Times have changed! It used to be that when people needed help with training their dogs it was a pretty straightforward process. There wasn’t that much information out there, and people weren’t as knowledgeable about training dogs as they are today. Thirty years ago people were actually surprised to learn that they shouldn’t spank their dogs. Hardly anyone used crates, and dogs always got the family’s leftovers after dinner. Restaurants weren’t kidding when they handed out doggie bags for the leftovers. A person would actually be a little ashamed about taking food home from the restaurant for themselves rather than giving it to the dog.
Today I am more proud than ever to say that I am a dog trainer. It is a growing and noble profession. I am grateful for all of the celebrity dog trainers who have elevated our profession on TV. I am also grateful to all the brilliant trainers who have authored books, produced tapes and videos and marketed their creations to the public. Each one of them has made a contribution by motivating people to automatically assume that training their dog is a part of dog ownership. It wasn’t always this way.
Now, new clients coming in for dog training are much more knowledgeable and have questions we need to sort through before we can even get started. There is so much information available, and much of the advice contradicts itself. One trainer professes one method and claims it’s the best while another trainer says their way is the only humane way. For that matter, people are also being told that certain types of training equipment are cruel while other types are not. People are actually more confused than ever, not knowing what to believe.
For this very reason, I feel there is a need to consolidate the information into what I am calling the “Integrated Approach.” The truth is, God created each person and each dog as an individual regardless of the person’s race or the dog’s breed. There are many roads that lead to a divine life with a dog. I am obliged to provide people with a number of solutions and then support them in choosing what is right for them. I’m looking forward to the day when I can say that I use the Integrated Approach, and people will know what I’m talking about.
One of my heroes is Richard Buckminster Fuller, who is best known for creating the Geodesic Dome. What I love about him was his inventiveness. Both he and I thrive on finding a need and then filling it. Here’s what he said:
“The Things to do are: the things that need doing,
that you see need to be done, and that no one else
seems to see need to be done.”
Quite frankly, I worry about the number of trainers who are preaching that training methods should only include methods using positive reinforcement. I worry for all the dogs and pet owners for whom this won’t work. I worry for their very lives. If someone told me years ago that I would need to take a platform for the positive nature of consequences, I would never have believed them. But such is the state of the dog training world today.
Richard Buckminster Fuller is also well known for making “synergy” a common term. Simply defined, it means that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Taking the Integrated Approach to dog training has the same synergistic effect by offering more solutions to more people. The definition of the word integrated is, “ having all its parts combined into a harmonious whole; coordinating diverse elements.” Trainers who use integrated training techniques will have more tools in their toolbox.
The Integrated Approach
Training equipment is an important part of a dog trainer’s tools. All of the equipment that has been invented to date has a unique purpose in mind. I like to compare selecting the right equipment to:
The Fork The Knife The Spoon
Different Tools, Serving a Common Purpose
Yet each utensil will outperform the others
when it is selected for the task it was designed for.
One of the most legitimate complaints of dog trainers today is that people will buy a piece of training equipment and not know how to use it. This, more than anything else, has led to giving certain training tools a bad name. “Divine Dog Training: Taking the Integrated Approach” goes into great detail on this subject.
A master trainer using the Integrated Approach is experienced with a broader scope of training skills, all of which translates into saving lives. It is still true today that a large number of dogs are relinquished to shelters and killed because of behaviors that the owner did not know how to manage.
In Divine Dog Training we learn not only how to manage our dog’s behavior, but more importantly, we accept responsibility for it. The distinction between Divine Dog Training and other ways of teaching is in the very foundation of how we view the dog. Divine Dog Training offers the belief that the dog may just be God’s finest example of unconditional love. Just as a human being is also a spiritual being, so is your canine also a spiritual being. The dog has a spirit and listens to its internal voice just as we do. Many of our value systems are different, yet we learn to coexist.
Another one of my favorite mentors is Dr. Wayne Dyer. He is well known for the saying, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” The dog was created perfectly with all of its abilities to bark, chew, mouth, hump, dig, lick and any other innate behavior you can think of. There is nothing wrong with jumping for joy! God did not make any mistakes when he created the dog. Divine Dog Training does not make the dog “wrong” for these behaviors. Instead, it places the responsibility on you, the dog owner, to show good leadership and manage situations accordingly.
All behavior is either innate or learned. Innate behaviors are never going away for good, but they can be managed. Only learned behaviors can be extinguished. Trying to teach a dog never to jump is about as ridiculous to me as a person who thinks their dog should never bark. When we argue with Mother Nature we will lose!
Live your life accordingly … according to what is appropriate at the time. If Bobby, your twelve-year-old next-door neighbor, is coming to visit and he loves it and laughs and giggles when your dog greets him jumping and licking, just let it be. It’s not as if killing their fun would erase your dog’s desire or natural tendency to be a dog.
On the other hand, if it’s Aunt Louise coming to visit, and she’s ninety-five years old, and just your dog bumping into her could knock her down and possibly break a hip, then you need to show good leadership and manage your dog. There are numerous ways to do this which are detailed in the book, but you don’t get to holler, “Sorry, Aunt Louise, that damn dog knows better!” He doesn’t know better, he is a dog. For those of you who actually believe he knows better, you have lost sight of the fact that he is a dog. Believing he knows better places the responsibility on the dog and sets you up for disappointment. Assuming you need to manage your dog’s behavior will empower you. Once again, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!”
It should be liberating to be told you have the freedom of choice, and that consistency lies in whatever you say, goes. When you say it’s okay to be a dog, it’s okay. When you know it would be inappropriate for your dog to jump on someone you assume leadership by managing the situation and redirecting him. There can be freedom in the framework. Life will certainly be a lot more enjoyable for both of you.
Divine Dog Training is a new approach. The words we use create thoughts. Our thoughts about things are reflected in our behavior. Much of dog training at the present uses words such as “behavior problems in dogs” or “how to stop jumping up.” Once again, this kind of language suggests there is a problem within the dog. It is an illusion and bad instruction to insinuate that anyone can stop all jumping. This just leads dog owners to believe that either they are failures or there’s something wrong with their dog. (“That dog should know better by now!”) Remember, God created the dog perfectly.
Our ability to manage the dog’s behavior is the solution. That is the goal of obedience training. Obedience training is a big part of the solution and deserves a lot more focus than it’s been given.
I look at dog training as team building. I often describe obedience training as a dance. Like dancing, if you dance with someone that’s awkward, it’s awkward. But when you dance with a great dancer, you feel like a great dancer. It’s because they lead the dance so well. A dog trainer’s goal in obedience training is to teach you, the owner, how to lead the dance gracefully with your dog; how to be a team. This includes teaching your dog commands that will be vital to you in moments of needing to redirect his natural tendencies.
We love our partners, our dogs. It’s just the behavior that sometimes needs to change. When we redirect a dog’s behavior, it can be about correcting the old behavior, replacing it, and then rewarding the new. The empowering attitude for teachers is that they are correcting behaviors. We can’t become afraid of correcting and redirecting. Of course positive reinforcement is our primary way of teaching. It’s more rewarding for both of us. This entire dance of obedience training is to be led with love. That is Divine Dog Training.
I realize in advance that no book can ever take the place of working with a behavior specialist and master trainer. No book can ever coach you in the fine motor skills and techniques needed to lead the dance of obedience training. This book will, however, balance out what the world is telling you. It will take the Integrated Approach and coordinate the diverse elements into a harmonious whole.
I have a dream of dogs being seen as an asset in the world, becoming more welcome everywhere. I would like to see them be better trained, better able to go with us into stores and restaurants, and basically with us wherever we may go. Our time together is short and precious. I believe that transforming how we look at dogs will also make them more welcome. We could use more love everywhere.
I hope that what you have read feels right for you. If it feels right, then it is right! The root of the word “obedience” means to listen. I often tell my clients that to be obedient to God means to listen to your heart … that is, after all, how the universe speaks to us. I listen to my heart every step of the way. I’m look forward to sharing what life, people and their dogs have taught me.