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Tracy Courtney

Teaching Through the Power of Silence

Is it possible to train our dogs using the power of silence? Silence is the highest & most effective form of communication with animals. Silence is the way that animals communicate innately & it is naturally understood by them. If we want to begin to understand teaching through the power of silence, the answers are all around us & we only have to look at how animals naturally exist & communicate with each other. What we would notice is that they predominantly communicate through the power of silence. Noise is such a normal & comfortable part of the human existence, that many refuse to examine any other possible way of being. Could this difference be one of the many bridges we've unknowingly created between ourselves & the animal world?

How do we know that animals don't exist in all the noise we're so accustomed to? Because when we watch a pod of dolphins, a flock of birds or a herd of horses moving in perfect harmony together, we don't hear any verbal sounds. We know there is no mental or emotional noise because if there was, it would reveal itself physically through the body language, these animals would become confused & begin crashing into each other. The noise would eliminate the perfect harmony & flow of motion. We only have to look at our own habits to establish this as fact. Humans who are carrying mental & emotional noise reflect these through body language, such as pacing, fidgeting, chewing fingernails, etc. Our own pets add credibility to this by showing the same reflections of panting, pacing, excessive barking or whining & weaving.

If we were to research all of the many methods being taught in how to work with our pets, one of the commonalities we would find is that they require mental, emotional, physical & verbal noise. What if were possible to let go of these sources of noise & teach through the power of silence? Most methods require that we are consistently involved in thought processes to remember sequential steps, countermeasures for various possible reactions from our pets & a lot of focus on what our pets are & aren't doing. They require constant verbal cues, praise & corrective tones. They require hand gestures, whistles, clickers & other physical gadgets as a means of force & control.

I have found it's much easier to rip the bandaid clean off, to simplify & prevent the development of new noise habits that will be difficult to break later & that's why we use the power of silence right from the start in Parameters. This is also why it's repeatedly stated that during Parameters, we will teach our dog to heel, stop, sit & if enough time is spent, lay down as we redirect their focus from the environment back to us without every asking our dog to do anything. Although this may sound like an abstract concept until an opportunity arises where the full effect can be witnessed & understood. Teaching through the power of silence is a tremendous shortcut that will dramatically speed up the process & eliminate much of the frustration of learning something new, if we're as willing to practice this silence as fervently as we practice sequential step methods.