What would your life look like if you were more engaged in it?
The Tragic Loss Of Engagement
More and more I notice how we, as a society, are allowing ourselves to not be present; to be ‘tuned out’ in our daily interactions with our loved ones; especially our children and our dogs. Perhaps we think they won’t notice.
Believe me, they notice.
We live in a day and age of go, go, go. We are constantly multi-tasking, using our cell phones, and just plain distracted. We are often having multiple conversations and thought processes all at one time. Our minds are completely overloaded and running on overdrive. This not only exhausting, but it prevents us from being fully engaged, fully present, fully ‘tuned in’ to our interactions with one another.
Have you ever appeared to be listening to someone, looking right at them, even nodding your head, yet you are not at all hearing what they are saying?
In body we are there, but not in mind. Our mind is somewhere else and we are not at all engaged with that person. There is no connection. Being there in just body without mind is NOT enough. We all want and deserve more. We are often too caught up in our gadgets, our own minds and our own thoughts to be present and engaged with each other. Often we are just waiting for our turn to talk, to tell our story. Our story is more important! Or is it!?!
How does this lack of engagement affect all the relationships in our lives?
Perhaps this is where we could take a closer look.
Engagement & Dog Training
How much better does your dog respond when it is engaged with you?
The key to successful dog training, regardless of the training method you choose to use, (positive, reward-based, escape/avoidance, etc.) is getting your dog engaged with you and keeping it engaged long enough to teach the behaviour you want.
If your dog is not engaged with you, it is not ‘tuned in’ to what you are asking of it and most likely will not respond the way you want.
The best thing we can do when we are beginning a training session with our dog is to get them fully engaged with us. This is a two-way street, as we also have to be fully engaged with them if we want to keep and hold that engagement, and form a connection. We turn an inactive dog (not paying attention) into an active dog (paying full attention). When you have an active dog, you and your dog have connected and the dog is ready to listen and learn. The best, or I should say the easiest way to achieve this with a dog is to have something in it for them, a reward of some sort. Food, a toy, or even just praise are examples of things that show the dog that there is something in it for them: a high value reward.
Engage & Stay.
The theory is simple. Putting theory into practice is often the challenge.
As humans, the reward we are looking for is to not just have someone listen, or ‘apparently be listening’, but to be heard. To form a connection in that moment and to stay there until that moment has passed.
Engage & Stay.
We are all seeking true, authentic connection with another, dog or human. We can help create those connections.
The Cell Phone; Our New Best Friend
Cell phone (n)
- Portable phone: a portable telephone operated through a cellular radio network
- A portable gadget that allows us to become completely disengaged with each other and the world around us. (See Gary Turks’s excellent YouTube poem, ‘Look Up’)
- A device that keeps us constantly busy, and our minds constantly cluttered promoting more ‘doing’ and less ‘being’.
I started to really take note at the disengaged world around me. Airports are a particularly great example of this. Its not that we have lost the desire to engage and connect, it’s that we are engaged and connected with something else…our cell phones.
It really hit home when I realized my cell phone had become a cue for my dog.
I used to multitask on dog walks and get caught up on calls or texts. Thus, in those moments completely disengaging with my dog. If a dog walk is not the most opportune time to be fully engaged and present with your dog, enjoying the simplicity and peacefulness of those moments, I don’t know what is?!
Goose learned that pulling out my cell phone = she will completely disengage and ignore me until she is done or she notices I am engaging in unwanted behaviours (aka…being bad)
I, unknowingly, made my cell phone a conditioned physical cue for disengaging with me. I was no better than the countless others who have made the cell phone their new best friend.
I had, enough times to make it fluent (it can take up to 100 times of repetition and consistency to make a behaviour fluent), chosen this trifling little gadget over my true best friend: my dog. That was the push I needed to put a stop to my disengaged behaviour.
If this can so easily happen to a dog, imagine how it might affect our loved ones, or even more frightening… a child.
Now, my cell phone only comes for walks in case I am about to be eaten by a bear and need to make a desperate call for help. I have realized in my own life how important it is to try and be more present and engaged with people, my dog, and the moments that I am sharing with them. I value being fully connected with them in those precious little moments that we only get once.
What would life look like if we all tuned back in to the beautiful world around us and the beautiful people and beings in it, and tuned out the falsity of life through a cell phone?!