The Two Minute Walk to Disneyland, Part One

Rock licking my face

This loving guy shows affection in this photo. An extreme side to his affection, is his protective nature.

I recently adopted a new dog friend, who I have named Rock. He is an adorable, fun and very smart Chihuahua. He is also my first little dog. Although he really isn’t little at all. He is a big soul in a small body. And he is very glad I added that last part, as it is an important fact!

Rock has a long list of attributes that I dearly love. Along with these lovely characteristics, he has some behaviors that I am working with him to change. Not because they are “bad” behaviors. I want him to be as confident and low stress as possible in his life. I also want to be able to bring him with me on outings and have him be comfortable. Just as his behaviors aren’t “bad,” nor is he a “bad” dog because he expresses them. In fact, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “bad dog.” I really don’t. There are dogs that have not been well educated in the ways of the human world and they are left to struggle through life. They are often reprimanded with non-beneficial negativity and harmful harshness. All the while, they are just waiting for someone to give them a clear message. Patiently wondering what is expected of them.

dog confused cute littlee dog

Tell me what to do and I’ll do it, but please be clear because your human rules can be really confusing. Some of them don’t make any sense at all. Like why shouldn’t I jump up on people? Haven’t you watched Animal Planet? Wolves jump on each other all the time. But if you don’t want me to do that, then teach me what to do instead, and I’ll learn really fast!

As an animal communicator and pet psychic, I see so often that a dog, cat or other animal is simply in need of additional information. They are missing a piece of the puzzle that their humans may think they should know. These animals are confused, due to mixed messages or because they haven’t been shown an alternative behavior to their current ones. You can’t just tell a dog not to do something. You need to help them learn what you would like them to do instead. You need to give them something else to do with that energy. “No” means more to you than it does to them. Even if that word gets them to stop their behavior, it doesn’t teach them. This is why you have to keep saying it when the exhibit the undesired behavior. Again, it is imperative that you help them to learn what behavior you want them to do instead. It helps expedite their learning if you show them that the desired behavior is even more enjoyable than the old one! They may get an adrenaline rush from lunging and barking at the dog across the street. But if when they are calm they get a favorite treat, they can learn that calmness brings them something better than that excited, reactive behavior.

Hailey on Sindis lap cropped

This beautiful cat is named, Hailey. She is currently available for adoption at the San Diego Humane Society at 5500 Gaines St., in San Diego. I met her when I spent some time in their Adoption Gallery getting my kitty fix!

If a dog or cat or person for that matter, actually learns and chooses to change their behavior, they do it voluntarily. This is what we want. We want our companion animals to learn and then decide on their own, without being forced. The new behavior becomes a new habit and replaces the previous conditioned response. If your pet is not treat motivated, you may need to find some type of food that they really, really love and don’t get at any other time. You can also use a favorite toy, squeaker ball or anything else that is of high value, including praise and affection. Every soul is different. Adjust the reward to fit the one being educated for optimal results.

Back to my awesome new companion, Rock, who I also refer to as, Rocky. And just like the movie version a.k.a. Sylvester Stallone’s, Rocky Balboa, my Rock is complete with boxing gloves, doubled as cute white paws! I’ve been working with Sir Rock on helping him to replace excited, fear based, reactive behavior with calm, confident, behavior. My intent is to help him overcome his fears so he feels more secure and in charge. This will help him to be able to respond, vs. impulsively react. He’s making great progress, as he learns alternative behaviors. Instead of growling, barking and lunging, he can calmly watch and with confidence decide whether it is really something to fear or not. In general he has demonstrated that he is learning that the world is not as scary of a place as he thought!

One thing I have been increasing is the amount of activity in his day. Not only physical exertion, but also mental stimulation. This has come in the form of running off leash in a nearby fenced area in an neighborhood park and introducing new environments and people in his life. Mental stimulation, learning, experiencing new things and exercise are all beneficial outlets for his energy and help satisfy his intellect and curiosity. I usually drive to the park, but the last two days, we walked there for some extra stimulation and opportunities for learning. To get to the park, we need to walk on a busy street, which includes an overpass with a noisy freeway underneath. Very seldom does Rock shiver, as some Chihuahuas do when afraid or excited. However, when we walk on that street and the overpass, it is a scary experience for Rock and he does shiver. I decided to carry him over the overpass both days. As his confidence builds, my goal is to calmly walk across with him on the ground.

disneyland mickey mouse clockOnce on the other side of the overpass, we are at the park. The park and all of its amazing smells and sights, as well as the fenced in area where he can roam free off leash, I compare to Disneyland for a human child. My thought is that by pushing through his fear of walking over that overpass, leads to a great reward; Disneyland! This park is, Doggie Disneyland. This is his two minute walk to Disneyland! The walk is scary, but the reward is amazing! Is it worth the two minute walk through fear to get to the fun on the other side?

I was sharing this with one of my dog training clients today and he asked, “So does he realize that the park is Disneyland?” I laughed because today was not a Disneyland day, but it was a great day of learning. I responded, “Not yet.” To me the three most important aspects of animal training are 1) Patience 2) Compassion and 3) Going with the Flow! If I was going to add a fourth, it would be that training is not going to be “perfect.” Nothing is perfect on this earth and the attempt to achieve perfection will leave you frustrated and invalidated. “Perfection” is rigid. Life is fluid. That’s where going with the flow comes in!

I am going to add a Part II to this blog post. I am facilitating a Pet Loss Support Group with a guided meditation in San Diego at my Mission Valley office location tonight. I need to go get ready for that. But I will write more soon. In the meantime, if you need help building your animal companion’s confidence and helping them confront their fear and reach the Disneyland reward, call me at 619-797-0705 or email me at sindi@wildtame.com. It makes me happy to know that you read this. Thank you!!! -Sindi 🙂

Dog Training with a Twist

Sindi and Ginger say, "Hi" with a High 5!

Sindi and Ginger High 5 it!

Regardless of the age of your dog, it is likely there are one or more behaviors you may wish to curb, at least a little bit. Perhaps it’s rushing the door when opened, jumping on visitors, stealing the cat’s food or lunging at other dogs when on a walk. Every dog is different. Regardless of breed, each dog has had its own life of varied experiences that help him decide, whether consciously, or otherwise, just how to act or react in any given situation.

Personally, I believe you can educate a dog at any age. Just like with us humans, the more ingrained a particular habit or pattern, the longer it may take to unlearn it, but it can be done! There are all different forms of training. I have found that within each school of thought lives a still varied understanding and approach. No two people are exactly alike, so no two trainers will be exactly alike. Not only in personality, but also in natural instincts and learned philosophies.

Canine Education a.k.a. Dog Training a.k.a. Treat Distribution

Canine Education a.k.a. Dog Training a.k.a. Treat Distribution

Along with positive reinforcement techniques, the basis of my training approach is energy and communication, which to me, go hand in hand. Without saying a word we are communicating, not only to our companion animals, but to other animals and people around us. Those we know, as well as strangers on the street. We all impact each other. To effectively and truly “train” a dog, we must also “train” ourselves. It is unfair and not at all compassionate to expect our animal friends to change, while we don’t have to. If your dog has a “bad habit,” you may unknowingly be contributing to the problem. You must be willing to change your behavior, if you expect your dog to change his. You must confront yourself, your own insecurities and beliefs and identify the energy you are projecting, if you want training to encourage the changing of a behavior long term.

My dog, Ginger who sadly passed away earlier this year, was and is, one of my greatest teachers in life. She was both intuitive and intelligent. She loved food, praise, playtime and affection, so training her new skills and behaviors was relatively easy in most cases. She was a fast and eager learner! The problem came when I began to slack off on the part I was to play. Here’s an example. When helping her with the learning process of not charging out the door, she responded well and learned to sit and wait until I left first. However! After a while I became inconsistent. I allowed her to walk out first. She, of course resorted back to her previously learned skill of walking out in front of me due to my laziness and non-commitment to one sole choice. Her response could be seen as, “Oh… we’re not doing that other thing anymore. Okay?! No problem! I can be flexible too!”

Rock licking my face

Sindi and her dog friend, Rock!

When we are not consistent, we give unclear, mixed messages. This can leave your dog confused and potentially frustrated. And in the case of my Ginger, a dog that doesn’t consistently use her newly learned behavior. When you aren’t consistent, you will, understandably, be less likely to end up with the desired behavior, as a result. Our inconsistency can interfere with our animal friends knowing exactly what role they are supposed to play. To be effective leaders, pet parents, teachers or however you want to term yourself in relation to your dog, we must take responsibility for ourselves, our actions and our energy. What are we bringing to the table? Are we afraid, anxious, stressed, angry or otherwise disturbed? This can and will effect your communication and your relationship with your companion animals.

This should not be incorrectly interpreted as meaning that you can not have your emotions or that you need to be in a constant state of relaxed bliss to have a pet! Life includes a wide array of emotions and experiences. Let yourself have them! When it comes to working to help train specific behaviors you need to be aware of your energy. If you are going through a tough time and having difficulty being at least somewhat calm and neutral, it may be best to take some time out for yourself. Our emotions are communications from our body that are essential for us to pay attention to. It’s like putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. Look at yourself, take care of yourself and after you are rested and rejuvenated and feel more at ease, then consider revisiting your training sessions. When you feel ready to enjoy some playtime and learning with your dog, go for it! It’s never to late for them or us to change the game!

If you are interested in learning more about Sindi’s compassionate, effective, energy and reality based training approach, contact her at 619-797-0705 or sindi@apetpsychic.com. There are other trainers that Sindi recommends for one-on-one training and classes, as well. When you contact Sindi, she will happily provide additional referrals depending on your individual situation and needs.

P.S. Sindi can help with your cat training needs, as well as other animal behavior assistance. Just ask! If she can’t help herself, she most likely knows someone that can! Sindi’s priority is to help animals and their people. She is here for you! 619-797-0705