Dog Training: The Power of Mind Space Connections in Dogs
Today, I want to share with you something that I call “mind space.” I coined the term after something that kept happening to me when I was walking one of my dogs–my dear dog Tamar, who has since passed away.
Over the years that I had Tamar, it became very apparent that she could sense when my mind was connected to her and when it was not.
This was a phenomenon that was particularly noticeable when we’d take walks together.
Before we go any further, I want you to take a minute and check out Tamar’s story in the video below so you have a good idea of what I’m talking about…
Fascinating, isn’t it?
After a six-month period of watching her behaviour, I was absolutely certain that she could tell when I was not connected anymore.
And if I wasn’t present and didn’t have the connection with Tamar, she’d go off and do her own thing.
For Tamar, it was all about mind space and connection. If I wanted to her to stay present with me, I had to be present.
If you haven’t noticed this mind space behaviour in your dog, it’s possible that you’ve seen it occur if you have children.
For me, I’ve found that my kids can be on their best behaviour…until the phone rings. As soon as my mind is distracted and not focused on them anymore, all hell breaks loose.
It’s the moments when I’m on the phone with a family member, friend, or client that my children end up making a mess or getting themselves into trouble.
I truly believe that at some level all dogs are able to sense if you’re connected to them and can tell if you’re watching them, thinking about them, thinking or telling them to “stay away” or “leave it.”
If you look at my recent post, A Dog’s Sixth Sense: The Unexplained Power of Dogs, you’ll see there that a lot of people have mentioned they’ve experienced the ability of their dogs to pick up an incredibly subtle change in how they’re thinking and feeling.
So, it wouldn’t surprise me if it all ties in with this ability that dogs have to know what we’re thinking and what we want them to do.
Another thing that I want to point out is that the amount of mind space that a task takes (like connecting with your dog so she doesn’t wander off when you’re on a walk) varies from person-to-person and dog-to-dog.
It’s also important to note that the success of your mind space connection is also impacted by how difficult it is for your dog to accomplish a task, such as not chasing a squirrel when he’s off leash on a walk.
That takes a lot of willpower!
Here’s a “human” example that might make this concept clearer.
When you first start a task, such as learning to drive a car, you need almost 100% of your mind space. You can’t have people in the back seat distracting you as you’re trying to remember road rules while driving on a busy street.
Later on, once you’ve been driving for a few years, you may only need 50% of your mind space to drive safely. And finally, when you’ve been driving for 20 years, you may only need 10% of your mind space to drive safely…it’s almost as if you’re on autopilot.
I’m not saying that’s great, but that is just how it is. Eventually, we are so comfortable with driving that we are able to multitask while turning the radio on, switching lanes and eating a snack.
The same thing happens when you’re training your dog.
At first, certain behaviours or tricks may seem incredibly difficult. But, once they get the hang of it, repeating a desired behaviour requires less mind space. It gets easier and easier as you go on.
To wrap it all up, here are the main ideas I want you to take away from this post…
- If you require 80%-90% of your mind space to be on your game while trying to train your dog to walk nicely on a leash, come prepared for the walk with the mind space you need. Turn the telephone off. Stay focused on the job at hand. And don’t think that your dog is not aware of what’s going on.
- If it becomes clear that what you’re trying to train your dog to do is too tricky or complicated for you both, simplify. Think logically and practically about what you can do to manage the situation to make it easier. Something as simple as training a dog to walk on a leash when there are less people walking down the street so your dog isn’t so barky is a great place to start.
- Don’t forget how incredibly smart and sensitive our canine companions are. Be aware of what they are trying to tell you and work to continually build the connection between yourself and your dog.
I’m really interested if you’ve ever experienced a mind space connection with your dog. If you have, I’d love for you to share your story with me in the comments below.
Have a great day and, as always, thanks for listening. I can’t wait to read your stories!
In memory of my dearest Tamar…
“We’ll never forget you, my little one. We will always love you, forever!”
Moses and my children, Sage & Stan, sprinkling flowers on the spot in the garden where we buried Tamar.