I am not a religious person, as in following a certain religious doctrine, but I do believe in something that’s bigger than me and everlasting. One of my favorite spiritual teachers is Deepak Chopra. In his book “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” I found three that, I believe, should be remembered when we live and work with our dogs.
In the chapter “Giving and Receiving” Chopra explains that one can give someone money without relating to him; that there is a difference between care and caring. When I observe how people, including some who train with positive reinforcement, relate to their dogs, I often notice that their interactions seem automated, abrupt, rehearsed. Caring is prolonged interest in the other, and to give of oneself. Owned dogs are thirsting for that deep connection. It is not the treat that should matter most, but the genuine joy you express for a job well done, and the happy and undivided attention you give whenever you interact with your dog.
The Law of Least Effort states that nature takes the course of least action and no resistance. We know that’s true cause organisms wouldn’t survive if they’d consistently expend more energy than they take in. Dogs, like us, are nature. Chopra says that whatever increases chaos and disorder is operating against the Law of Least Effort, leads to frustration and is counterproductive to life. The key is to do less to accomplish more. In regards to dogs it can mean fewer artificially orchestrated activities to avoid over-stimulation, less overbearing and more subtle communication, and taking an interest in the dog’s natural aptitude and channeling that, so that success is achieved with less effort.
The Law of Detachment says that nature works best once we are detached from the outcome. Like, buy that lottery ticket and release it from your mind; take that course you are interested in regardless if you can use it for something or not.
Regarding dogs, it means that the highly ambitious and competitive type-A owner needs to reduce performance pressure he puts his dog under. Ribbons and titles are important for people, not dogs. That does not mean you shouldn’t pursue dog sports, or obedience, or whatever you like, but with the primary focus to bond over quality time spent together. Then your dog will want to be with you, and work with you, and success in any activity will follow, sometimes almost miraculously. Chopra describes it as maintaining serenity while being passionate about the goal. The intention is in the future, but the attention is in the present, and the presence is what matters to your dog. And if your attention is a caring, prolonged, deep, subtle and connected one, your dog will feed of your serenity, and everything will fall into place - much faster than with force.