What is Integral Dog Training?
Integral dog training is a holistic approach to dog training that aims to address the physical, emotional, and cognitive needs of the dog. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the dog as a whole being, rather than just focusing on obedience training.
Integral dog training encompasses a range of techniques including positive reinforcement, clicker training, and force-free methods. It also includes providing a balance of physical exercise, mental stimulation, and emotional well-being, to create a well-rounded and fulfilled dog.
One of the main principles of integral dog training is to create a positive and trusting relationship between the dog and the trainer, based on mutual respect and understanding. This approach aims to build the dog’s confidence and self-esteem, and to promote a sense of well-being in the dog.
Integral dog training also places an emphasis on understanding the dog’s natural instincts and behaviours, and using this understanding to design training programs that are tailored to the individual dog.
An experiment in interspecies bonding
There is nothing wrong with dogs roaming around freely and enjoying their freedom without any other rules than its own… as long as they don’t share a living space with humans as two entirely different worlds collide which can lead to a lot of issues. A dog and a human perceive life and how it should be lived to its fullest in an entirely different way. Even we both have co-evolved side by side for at least the last 15.000 years, we are still two different species. Still this doesn’t mean that humans and dog cannot share a living space together in harmony, joy and respect for each other.
Training a dog is no different than teaching a child, it requires dedication, love, consciousness and lots of patience. Please keep in mind that every dog is an individual and as different as we humans are. While some are eager to learn new ways of behaviour easily and with full enthusiasm, others are way more reluctant to trust those strange human beings with whom they might have had bad experiences in the past and now they should obey to some of their rules and learn to coexist with those strange non-dogs in harmony and peace? An almost impossible task it seems!
But no, of course not! All that is required is that you start to build a relationship with your dog(s). A relationship, exactly the same as a treasured human-human relationship is based on trust and respect with clear limitations and rules to ensure that no conflicts will evolve. I always compare it with teaching children: Even everyone agrees that giving children the maximum of freedom possible is wonderful for a child’s development, but allowing children to roam around entirely free without any rules and limitation and no respect for their parents, never listening to any of their well meant advice, might put them in dangerous situation and have a horrible impact on their future development.
Nothing different with teaching dogs. Dogs sharing a living space with humans have to understand that it’s imperative to respect humans and learn to accept their rules and limitations to ensure a harmonic co-existence. As dogs don’t have a mind like we humans do, they are not able think in a similar way, but this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to teach a dog new behaviours.
There are numerous different ways of how to train a dog to behave in a certain way. Every dog is an individual and has a different personality, so some methods work great with some dogs and some wont.
Over the last years I have developed my own methods which are all based on a relationship based approach, entirely without violence, without inflicting pain or any other cruel methods to force a dog to obey. My way which I call the Integral Dog Evolution Approach (I.D.E.A) is based on forming a bond with a dog and allowing the dog to make choices on its own by encouraging it to choose the way which we want it to behave. It’s a method which strengthens certain behaviours through positive reenforcement, while at the same time showing the dog that there are clear rules and boundaries which it has to respect.
My method can be adopted by anyone, young or old, dog expert or novice, who shows an interest in establishing a relationship with a dog.
Establishing a Bond
Like with people, a strong human-animal connection is based on trust. If your dog(s) like having you around, obviously its a good sign. But what if the dogs just share the same living space as you and rather do their own thing than learning acceptable behaviour from you? What if we as human just ignore them like we refuse to have any contact with an annoying neighbour? That some dogs live in the same space as you do and you see them on a daily basis but just walk by, doesn’t mean that a relationship has been established. Without any connection between humans and dogs, how could it ever be possible to teach a dog new ways of behaviour? Its a no-brainer!
Establishing a relationship with a dog doesn’t require hours of your time, nor huge efforts. All that is needed is 3 times a day 10 minutes, which can be shared among different people. All you need to do is to be conscious and present (put your phone away!) and communicate in a consistant way to allow a dog to learn from you.
Dogs are not able to communicate with us through verbal language but they have a lot of ways to express themselves and let us know whats up with them. The first step in establishing a relationship with a dog is to observe the dog. What does its body language tell you? Is the dog afraid of you? Is it just shy and wants you to reach out but doesn’t know how to establish contact with those strange human beings? Is it acting in what can be perceive as an aggressive way, because we are not aware that the dog might have suffered traumatic, fear-inducing incidents in the past? Are you willing to reach out and make the first contact?
The first step, which is the fundamental basic of all dog teaching and is something which I will repeat over and over and over again is that most of the issues you are having with a dogs bad behaviour does not have its root on the dogs side, but rather derives from how we humans act towards the dog.
Dogs can perceive our energy directly and look through our masks which we are wearing in our daily lives. Dogs know if we are fearful or scared, if we mean something honestly or just pretend, if we hesitate, if we put our full consciousness and attention into something or if we are just thinking about tonights dinner plans while interacting with a dog. You cannot deceive a dog, they are experts in reading your body language, they know how to interpret the micro-movements of your facial expression in an instant.
If you want to build up a good relationship with a dog, even its not your own dog, or just to help a dog to solve some issues, please MEAN IT! During the few minutes every day which you spend training a dog, be true to yourself and be true to the dog. Only then the dogs will start to trust and respect you, forming the basis of a relationship which allows you to help it to overcome its challenges and change its behaviour.
The Yoga of the Dog
The most important, the most crucial characteristic for a dog to accept you as a pack leader is if you radiate complete calm and assertive energy. In a dogs world, assertive calmness is strength and thats what makes will make any dog respect you, then slowly gain your trust and as a result follow and obey your orders.
Calm assertive energy is the most balanced energy and only energy that dogs will accept in a leader. Dogs will not listen to or follow frustration, anger, fear, insecurity, weakness, excitement or anxiety amongst other energies and emotions that are labelled as unbalanced. Even being too friendly, too spiritual and sweet, too emotional, it is a weakness in the dogs eyes. A human who remains calm in whatever situation arises and knows what to do has exactly the right qualities to be a leader which every dog will respect and obey.
If you are not a natural born leader for a dog, no worries, you can become one! I will teach you through practical examples how to adopt the right attitude, mind set and ultimately radiate this special calm assertive energy, which makes you irresistible for every dog and which will lead to acceptance and respect. This is the basis, the fundament of every dog training. I always call this part of my daily work „the Yoga of the Dog“ as every minute I spend with my dog teachers, I have to be conscious and be in a calm state of mind and being and always know what I am doing.