DIALOGUE, NOT DOMINANCE, WINS OVER DOGS -- AND SAVES THEIR LIVES, TOO
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DIALOGUE, NOT DOMINANCE, WINS OVER DOGS -- AND SAVES THEIR LIVES, TOO
by SBH Clay
Part 1 - Introducing Dialogue
"Lucius, stand," I instructed my sitting Boxer, gently tugging with my left hand on the end of his chain training collar, where it meets the leash, while moving my right hand, palm down, away from his nose, showing him the direction he was to move.
Lucius must've wondered what in heaven's name I meant. He had learned the commands for sit, down, come and stay several years earlier. But stand? "Where did that come from, mom? Just why are you trying to teach me new tricks at this late stage in my life?" his quizzical expression was asking me.
Tentatively, he started to get up in response to my hand movements. I started praising him right away, in a non-stop cheery patter, assuring him he was headed in the right direction. Before he could collapse back into a sitting position, I swiftly tucked my left hand under his stomach and at the same time I let go of the collar and balanced him under his neck with my right hand as I suddenly became silent. I let him stand for just a second, with only his brain wheels spinning as I removed my supporting hands an inch from his body. Then I lavished Lucius with praise and stroked him vigorously.
Why did Lucius and I do this exercise? Because he had asked me “What now?” with his eyes, and I had responded with a new word, a new hand gesture, a new little tug, and the common-sense courtesy of actually positioning his body with my hands -- molding him as if he were a sculpture -- in order to teach him a new command.
We repeated the drill several times from the sitting position. Each time he made any move with his feet (i.e. made a mistake), I instantly said the correcting tone “eh” (think of the word “get” without the “g” and “t”), quickly followed by more verbal praise as I fixed his mistake for him. This correcting tone means “oops” and resembles the sound a mother dog makes to her puppies when she is letting them know they did something wrong. (Mother dogs don’t scold their pups. They just erase mistakes gently and then move on with encouragement.)
From now on, when Lucius visits Dr. Tharp and is asked to “stand” immobile for his rabies shot and an exam, the good vet will surely want to pin a Model Canine ribbon on him.
The method of obedience training I use with Lucius -- hands-on-the-dog instruction, a quick correcting tone (if needed) followed by ecstatic approval of every right position (which the handler has put the dog in), and nary a “no” or a scolding word or punishment -- was discovered and perfected by a Colorado woman named Judy Moore. With her self-published book, Dogs Deserve Dialogue, and its 90-minute companion video (Right Solution Dog Training). Moore makes available to every dog owner a simple, practical, compassionate method for training man's best friend.
But that's just the cake. Here's the icing: Moore's system (which will hereafter be referred to as Dialogue) is so sure-fire that it can also be used on the most aggressive, destructive, terrorized/terrorizing dog, even one who is so beyond the pale that other trainers recommend the dog be locked in a crate for life or put to death.
The reason Moore's regimen is so successful with out-of-control dogs is that it eliminates the underlying causes of bad behavior by giving crazed-with-fear or crazed-with-anger dogs such confidence, self-esteem, and peace of mind -- not to mention such fun! -- that they have no desire to act out their fears or aggressions any longer. That’s because they no longer feel fear or anger.
Unbelievably, mastering Dialogue takes only a few minutes a day. The initial instruction begins only after the handler/owner has studied and practiced on his own until he is absolutely sure he understands the steps and can teach them to the dog in such a way that he makes the dog feel better about himself. After that, dog and handler need do only 10 to 15 minutes of daily practice of these exercises, which are the components of Dialogue and the structure for teaching the dog to respond to any situation with trust.
Blind-and-deaf Teddy Bear (on couch) was rescued from the Los Angeles pound after the date he was supposed to have been euthanized. The two dogs who Judy Moore is embracing have their own rescue tales.
The dog owner who decides to implement Moore's method has to be willing to lay aside all preconceived ideas and previous training methods. He also has to be willing to banish his own fears -- for instance, his belief that he lacks the ability needed to be a successful dog handler. The handler's confidence level is always picked up by, and passed along to, his dog.
Exactness (following all Moore's instructions to the letter, and insisting in a kind way that the dog do the same) and consistency (refusing to revert to other methods, and sticking with Dialogue and only Dialogue, day in and day out) are two ingredients in this recipe for success.
Besides exactness and consistency, patience is another prerequisite. In fact, the human holding the leash ends up developing these latent qualities in himself, progressing as much, if not more, than his canine companion by the time the training "takes."
Amazing changes in a dog’s behavior sometimes come in a matter of hours or days. That’s not to say that behavior modification is a quick fix, though. It usually takes at least six months – sometimes more -- of regular practice to ingrain Dialogue in both owner and dog to the point where the latter responds automatically to each and every command, even off-leash.
According to Moore, who has been rescuing and rehabilitating abused, traumatized, and abandoned dogs for half a century, "the key lies not in controlling dogs but in conversing with them."
Here's what she means: the very first step in her training method teaches the dog always to look to the human handler for information before acting. Then the handler responds with simple instructions that the dog can quickly learn. That's what Dialogue is all about: answering the dog’s questions.
Indeed, Dialogue – that is, Q&A -- is a way of life, 24/7, for both owner and dog. And what is the dog asking 24/7? Moore says he’s wondering, "Am I all right? Am I doing okay?" The owner, through praise of his dog, is answering, “Yes, you’re just fine. You’re doing great.” Such constant reassurance leaves no place for scolding.
Moore has found, through implementing Dialogue, that there is no such thing as a bad dog. There is only bad -- inappropriate or uncooperative -- dog behavior, and it has only one cause.
The sole cause of bad behavior is that a dog naturally acts upon inborn information, or instinct, if he has not been taught the rules for living in man's world. As a result of living clueless in the human world and being constantly berated for following his instincts, a dog can easily become frustrated, anxious and stressed. In turn, those feelings develop into disruptive, destructive, and even aggressive behavior. Such “dangerous” dogs are often “thrown away.”
Moore's Dialogue training method evolved from her efforts to discover ways to restore emotional stability and confidence to these abandoned and traumatized dogs, so that they could be successfully adopted and live happily ever after.
As I see it, Dialogue sets high standards for dog owners, but they are achievable. It asks the owner to always see his dog as innocent, to always voice approval of his dog’s good behavior, and to always encourage his dog. Not surprisingly, the owner finds that his dog responds by showing forth that innate (if previously latent) innocence -- by acting good.
In the past two years of conversing via e-mail with Judy Moore, I've noticed qualities in both her and her method of dog training that I cannot help but conclude come straight from the Divine -- which is why I'm writing this article for the spiritually inspired www.all-creatures.org website! Among these divine qualities are intelligence, perseverance, patience, and the most pure, unconditional love for each dog.
The one quality that clients remark upon most is Moore's endless patience with the dogs. When teaching a dog a new command, she gently and calmly goes over it again and again, without a hint of reproach, until the dog understands what he is being asked to do. It never occurs to her to blow her cool, no matter how dense or ditzy the dog appears to be. She expects all humans who learn Dialogue to practice the same patience with their dogs.
Furthermore, Moore understands that patient practice “makes perfect.” As the Bible counsels in no uncertain terms: " ... let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:4). Certainly, Dialogue-trained dogs lack nothing! Their feeling of wholeness, of complete well-being, gives them a poised and peaceful demeanor.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her radical, unorthodox book on spirituality, "Observation, invention, study, and original thought are expansive..." and growth-promoting (Science and Health p. 195). These four habits characterize Moore's equally radical, unorthodox approach to dog training. Indeed, they are what enabled her to create the method called Dialogue.
Go on to Part 2 - STUDY
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