Training mindfully: An introduction

ReceptivityHiResI recently produced a DVD in conjunction with Tawzer Dog and Helping Idaho Dogs, Inc. on training mindfully, a concept I’ve been cultivating for the past year. Paying attention on purpose takes practice, predictability and protocols. When we train mindfully, we:

– Train consciously and intelligently
– Are aware of the interaction of the environment, the dog, and ourselves
– Listen to the dog so the training session is a conversation
– Teach and train with intention
– Incorporating  the human client’s needs and abilities into a dog’s functional assessment

“Action is movement with intelligence. The world is filled with movement. What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.” – Iyengar

The environment is stressful for many dogs. The goal a fearful or reactive dogs’ training plan is to change a that dog’s emotional response to various stimuli. Without the paralysis of fear, a dog can remain responsive but be less reactive. In other words, by training mindfully, we can help dogs develop and use coping skills so they remain focused and calm in an often noisy, sometimes unpredictable world.

While we can’t always control our dog’s environment, we can give them the coping skills so that when life throws triggers their way, they can respond in ways that are less fearful and less reactive.

When training mindfully, we can move with intelligence, and so can our dogs.

–  Maureen Backman, MS, CTC, PCT-A is the owner of Mutt About Town dog training in San Francisco. She is also the founder of The Muzzle Up! Project and Muzzle Up! Online. To get in touch, email her at  To purchase her training DVDs, visit Tawzer Dog

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