When my dog is chasing a ball, or I am asking him to do something with a treat in my hand, his focus is like a laser. His focus always brings to mind the concept that energy flows where attention goes. Focusing is one of the key components to animal communication. To be able to give them a clear understanding of what you want is made easier by setting your intention and clarifying thoughts. For example, if I am wanting him to get off the couch and stay off the couch, I will give him the command “off” and yet, I am thinking with a whole lot of frustration, “I know this rascal. As soon as I turn my back, he is going to jump right back on the couch.” Well, guess who will be sitting on the couch all day? Because he was listening to the energy and there was more flow of energy to my thoughts of him jumping on the couch, Prince will be sitting on the couch.
Who can resist those gorgeous brown eyes and black floppy ears? I must. I want him off. my. couch.
So, using focus, how would I communicate to him that the couch is off limits. The first step is by taking some time to gain clarity about why I want him off the couch and where he is welcome to lounge instead.
To go through my thought process: I want him off the couch because it is starting to smell like dog. I want him off the couch because he is dirty and he is making the couch dirty. I want him off the couch so every time I sit down I don’t go into the “Ahh, it smells like dog…I need to clean…I need to give him a bath…” and start to create a whole lot of frustration around this with a whole lot of energy. Basically, I want him off the couch because I want him off the couch. I observe I have a lot of frustration around it and I start beating myself up that I should have never let him on the couch or if I was a better dog trainer he’d never be on the couch, etc. Basically, a lot of stuck energy around this couch and that stuck energy flairs up when I see him on the couch.
Now, where do I want him to lounge instead? There are a variety of places he can lounge, his bed, the floor, the porch, the yard – just not on the couch.
How will I feel when he is lounging other places than the couch? I will feel happy that my couch is no longer a dog bed. I feel comfortable when people come over that my house is clean. I will feel more at ease when people are over that he will not jump up and join them on the couch. I just realized by allowing him to lounge on the couch, the couch is basically his territory and having people sitting on it is invading his space. Allowing him to lounge on it is a disservice to him by expecting him to be welcoming of people in his bed.
Having taken the time to clarify what I do want, I have a new focus with him and the couch – it is for him to learn to stay off the couch. I will focus my attention and intention on letting him know his job is to find new places to lounge and I will back those thoughts of my feeling of happiness in seeing him comfortably sprawled out on the floor. I can now firmly tell him “off” while I am thinking about him comfortably laying on his bed or laying on the floor. Focusing on his new job will make it easy to re-orient his lounging and it is not fueled by the frustration and big energy of “GET OFF THE #*#@ COUCH.” I can now firmly tell him “off” while I am thinking about him comfortably laying on his bed or laying on the floor.
One of my million dollar ideas to accomplish the no-Prince-on-the-couch-rule is to somehow bottle my dogs’ focus and create an elixir. This elixir will increase focus and efficiency with minimum effort mixed in with a whole lot of fun. I will use this magical elixir to create a routine when trying to get him off the couch. I will deliver this new routine with the same focus and attention he has on the ball when we are playing. His intensity to find the ball is coupled with the enthusiasm of the game. Now, can I make staying off the couch just as fun with my focus? The opportunity is to focus and master the feeling he has when playing ball of “come on, come on, throw the ball!” to “come on, come on, on the floor!” and coupling it with the excitement he has quivering through his body when he bounds off to find the ball. I will couple my focus of “on the floor” with the excitement of seeing him lounging on the floor. Once I master this, you are invited over for a nice chat on my clean comfortable couch.