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What is calmness and why is it important? 



Well calmness is a state of mind where we are at peace with any situation we are in, our mind and thoughts are free from disturbance (as the definition in Google says) and from being over emotional. Now this “calmness” can come in many shapes, forms and definitions but from my point of view I will focus on the aspect that is important for the dog training world. Our state of mind affects our surroundings as well as our companions and vice versa, but us as the ‘would be’ leaders of the pack need to be the ones who affect the situation and control it so we can build a healthy state of mind for our dogs and ultimately have them cooperate with us. So the calmness part has to begin with us humans, we need to know how to be aware of the state of mind we are in and the energy we let out.


 As I see it there are 5 categories:


  • Shut down 

  • Apathy

  • Balance/ Calmness

  • Excitement 

  • Reactivity 


Here are some examples that I use to get a better picture of the 5 categories listed above: 


1.Shut down - the dog and/or human don't feel good with themselves, most likely depressed, lack of motivation and it is really hard to get them to do anything, which includes basic instinctual needs (eat, sleep, bathroom, socializing, communication, exercise and many more), no confidence, self destructive, mental health- bad.


2. Apathy - lack of motivation to do anything but most likely will do what is required of them as a “ favor” to you, will try to let you know what they need but might give up easily, minimal amounts of care and will keep most of their emotions to themselves, poor confidence, selfish, mental health - poor. 


3. Balance/calmness - controls emotions , confident, clear mind , open minded , clear communication, takes their time to think through things , wants to be active ( in the right amount needed daily) , has great impulse control,learns from mistakes and guidance (want to learn and be challenged) , has trust and can be trusted, very cooperative, mental health - good.

 

4. Excitement - very emotional, very active (high energy level) , seeking  ways to reduce adrenaline levels, mind goes “1000 mph”(can't think clearly), poor impulse control, testy, gets bored easily, drive is overly high, selfish, relies on emotions and not common sense (relies on instinct), poor engagement, can be over and under confident, mental health - not good -poor.


5. Reactivity - seeks the easy way out of situations, can be violent, very clear fight or flight, reacts first thinks later, want total control of the situation, selfish, poor impulse control, very high energy build up, very emotional, no common sense, stubborn, seeks adrenaline in extreme ways, can be over or under confident, mental health -poor- bad. 


The examples listed above can be used to describe both humans and dogs and can help us with figuring out what the dynamics/ relationships are missing in order to create the harmony that we are looking for. 


We have to ask ourselves if we(or they)are fulfilling our body and mind while getting rewarded appropriately and in the right amount. Also, can we be open minded enough to see what we and/or our companions are not getting enough of? As they say that love isn't enough, we got to work hard to maintain it otherwise we can easily lose it or regret it later.  One of the most important things to be aware of is who we are and what energy our environment receives from us. 


At the end of the day we are translators ( or marriage counselors ) trying to bridge the gap between humans and dogs and when the communication is better we start our journey into balance and harmony. There are many ways to achieve this balance and they are all good, but communication is where it all begins. So no matter what training method you choose, remember that doing it just to say you tried isn't enough, once we have achieved our balance/harmony/calmness you will be in the healthiest point of your relationship and like any good and functioning relationship we got to do our best, enjoy it and put our heart, mind and souls in to it for the best results.


By K9 Coach Jon


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