TAI CHI and DOGS
In the words of Sapir Weiss, Master Dog Behaviorist and Leader of the Pack at Olivet Kennel and Dog Training Resort (www.olivetkennel.com), “When working with dogs, calm equals dominance.” Lao Tzu says, “The softest things in the world overcome the hardest.” The Tai Chi Classics tells us, “Use stillness to overcome motion.” These simple words are not so easy to put into practice.
I once asked Sapir while working with an over-excited, aggressive dog, “How would one protect themselves against an attacking dog with the kind of drive and power of this dog?” Sapir responded, “When there is no way to avoid being bitten, to reduce the severity or survive the attack, be calm and take the bite.” When facing an opponent that is younger, stronger, and faster than you, the Tai Chi Classics tells us, “If others don’t move, you don’t move. If others move slightly, you move first.” Another reminder from the classics, “When being attacked, be calm and move in stillness.”
A common thread is energy projection and body language. Animals (including the human) communicate through body language and energy projection. Dogs don’t lie. Lacking logic and reason, dogs are mind/body. A dog will express in her body her state of mind. Dogs, unlike human animals, cannot hide their mind intent from their body’s expression of it.
If dog owners could learn one skill that would serve them in their relationship with their dogs, that would be to always communicate calmly. As I raise my voice to give a dog a sharp correction, Sapir calmly reprimands me saying, “Dogs are not hard of hearing. Don’t get angry with your dog.” How many times have you witnessed an English-speaking person raising their voice when trying to communicate to a non-English speaking person? Volume won’t help. A common language is necessary.
Dogs do not understand words. They react to our body language and our energy projection (emotion). Dogs don’t follow agitated leaders. The pack leader is the most calm. Who can be calm when their dog is misbehaving? Our common language is our body language and energy projection.
In TAI CHI and DOGS, we work on obtaining and maintaining a calm state of mind and projecting that calmness through our body language. We start simply, inside the tai chi studio, human and dog being quiet together. Then, we go out into the world looking for difficult situations for our dogs and learn to be calm.
Classes are one day a week for 4 weeks. Each class is 90 minutes. Classes are held both at my studio on Sonoma Mountain Road and at a park in Santa Rosa.
Contact MT Rose with questions and the class schedule.