Awareness Centered Training - ACT

Awareness Centered Training - ACT

by Maureen Ross
Awareness Centered Training - ACT

Awareness Centered Training - ACT

by Maureen Ross


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Trainers, behaviorists, and big businesses have embraced the liberal use of positive techniques, philosophies and equipment for decades. Accompanying this is the buzz about leadership, alpha statuses, along with advice on what we should or shouldn't feed our dogs, when to feed them, and how much to feed them. What if it is as simple as ABC and 123-breathing, eating, playing and smiling? Awareness Centered Training (ACT) gives us permission to

• joyfully and easily train (JET) our dogs without fear of right or wrong

• mindfully shape natural behaviors with SAM (socialization and manners)

• quickly integrate training for a few minutes each day, playing Doggy Diner

• reduce sensory overload with "ahha!" moments of peace and stillness

• connect using body language, breathing, and the magic of your smile

• empower yourself and your dog with skills you can use anywhere

• creatively balance energy while enhancing well-being

• let go of what doesn't matter and go with the flow (wolf )

• change life for the better with dogs as translators for learning and healing

While you train with awareness, unhealthy patterns in your life can begin to vanish. This is not because of a book, social media, or life doing something to you. It is because you and your dog are doing something different together. Enjoy the journey.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452557540
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 09/21/2012
Pages: 418
Sales rank: 751,153
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.85(d)

Read an Excerpt


Education, Relationship, Well Being, Choice!

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2012 Maureen Ross
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4525-5754-0

Chapter One

Awareness Centered Training (ACT)

Let's begin by exploring what dogs mean to us, and how interdependent our relationship with dogs has become, since the dawn of man. Allow yourself to breathe into this with an open mind. Free your mind of anxiety. Explore new paradigms and create new patterns, with your dog's help, side-by-side.

We will review "pertinent" behavior history, but not to the point of nausea or boredom. Why bother? You can find it on Wikipedia, and the Internet Explorer, colored with many stories, opinions and research. Some make sense, and others are mythical or wishful thinking.

I have summarized what has made a difference to me, while living and learning with a variety of dogs and assorted people. Visit the "Big Confusing Behavior Terms Dictionary" in Appendix A, when you feel like it. No rush! It isn't going anywhere. If you download the E-version of ACT, please don't read, text and drive. Your dog will miss you. Do like us on Facebook—please!

Allow me to offer you freedom of expression, and an opportunity to think inside or outside of the box. Use what speaks to you, placing the rest in a safe place for later use. You may decide like I did several years ago, that enough is enough. I watch, listen, participate, try a few new ideas or pieces of equipment out, then decide what works best for me and the dogs!

It is of little relevance to the dogs, or me, if a whisperer, guru or duly noted distributor of dog training and equipment products, says it works. I have to clarify, see, use and experience it for myself, and then get the dog's opinion.

How dogs enjoy learning and how I feel when I am teaching is important to me. I am not interested in results if it means damaging my relationship with the dogs.

Doing what matters most, for you and your dog, is as individual as dog breeds, shapes, colors and cultures. If I inspire one person to change their life while training, living and learning with dogs, my goal is accomplished. I have made a difference.

Honestly, I am happy to get up close and personal, within reason, to share a range of emotions and love that we have for dogs.

I am one hundred percent sure that dogs shift energy when they walk into a room (pet assisted therapy). Dogs are catalysts for breaking barriers of communication.

I am honored to be a voice, and interpreter, for dogs who help change lives. We can do the same for them with awareness, education, relationship and well-being. I love dogs. How about you?

* * *

Intervention for Recovering Dog Junkies Said with a Deep Breath and a Smile!

Evolution is amazing and mine has been walking a path with dogs from childhood on. A collection of learning experiences has been harvested from the interaction, contribution and feedback of students, colleagues, friends and, ultimately, the dogs!

I am a self-confessed recovering dog junkie. I would have too many if I was not aware of quality of life. Over the years, I have made mistakes and turned them into learning opportunities, but not without pain and agony.

Dogs have taught me to think outside of the box and that is okay to remain in the box too. I have learned from four legged, three legged, deaf and blind dogs. They have graciously suffered with disease and died in my arms with pure forgiveness.

I empathize with the heart-squeeze of loss (Pawt 8, Celebrating Life). It may not be that "extreme" for everyone, but most multiple dog (or pet) owners and trainers, will relate to those "what was I thinking" or "how can I go on" moments or years.

When it comes to dogs, we defer to the heart, losing all ability to make sensible decisions. We see that dog, puppy or kitten and just know that we are the one who can change their lives. The truth is—they change ours.

When we first began the Dog Training and Wellness Sanctuary, we thought about changing the name to Woof-Poof, Instant Dog Training. There is still magical thinking today. Society can present a fantasyland for the express purpose of getting us to love, buy or adopt dogs. Don't be fooled. A lot of hard work and effort goes into TV dog stars and most live ideal lifestyles. Adoption, in my opinion, is the same as buying. We are adding a living being to the family. We have had many adopted dogs, and it is just as costly if they need medical and psychological attention. Revolving door adoption is out of the question because it doesn't work and the dog suffers, although I would rather see a dog returned to a shelter or foster care than remain in "bad match" situations.

I bow down to people like Sue Sternberg and others, who are working diligently to educate and create better adoption programs and holistic environments. Dogs are stressed when in transition. True colors generally do not present themselves until the dog is settled into a new home. We need to be vigilant with assessment, being sure that a dog is appropriately matched with a family or someone more experienced. Otherwise, it is not win-win, which is the goal. It is lose—lose and generally the dog dies.

Be sure the heart string is connected to the brain stem before buying or adopting a puppy / dog. The dog may be adorable. Be sure that energy, ability, education and finances are available before adding a living being to your life.

I have lived with many dogs, large, small, adopted and bought specifically because I loved the breed and wanted to challenge myself in competition. At any one time, we had five dogs. This is mild in comparison to some. We have been through thousands of dollars for treatments for cancer, grieved until our eyes bled, and been caught (YES I ADMIT THIS) in the middle of a dog fight brought on by stress mine and the dogs.

Dogs can and will fight if not compatible and managed. People can get hurt, especially children and smaller dogs. I have been dragged down the road on my face by an adopted Newfie (fifteen years ago). The good news is I refused to let go and had a free facial (exfoliation). Jon-Luc ended up in commercials like Timberland, American Express and Bruce Weber's, Gentle Giants, a book about Newfoundlands. He was my "becomes a behaviorist" teacher.

My heart-smart message to recovering dog junkies like me is that unless you are financially comfortable, have help, and can afford unexpected treatment or other things life may toss your way, then take a deep breath before adding multiple dogs (or pets) to your house and family. Explore your lifestyle and what the dog's lifestyle will be like first (Pawt 3, Multiple Pets).

Having a gaggle of dogs at once gave me experience. Having a peaceable pack is bliss. Before considering adding a dog, there are considerations to explore:

1. Are you financially and emotionally in a place where you can make a positive difference for this dog? Do you have a nest egg put aside for unknowns?

2. Are your other pets in a healthy place?

3. Are you sure they will accept this dog or cat? There are no guarantees.

The blunt reality is that you can't be positively sure that dogs or cats will get along. Be mindful that when you add a pet, it changes the life of your current ones. You will need to manage their interactions until you are sure that it is safe. If it turns out that they will never accept one another (like a divorce), then you may have tough decisions to make on lifetime management or re-homing a pet.

When the heart tugs, connect it to the brain. Visualize it if it helps. The more you know yourself and your dogs, the wiser the choices. If all the dots connect, and you have time, money and conveniences to share with many pets, than from one recovering dog junkie to another, go for it!

Now, let's take in a deep breath and enjoy the journey ...

* * *

Using this Book with Visuals and Websites

There is no right or wrong way to learn, just different ways. Once upon a time they use to tell us not to teach our dogs to sit if we going to show them in competition. They use to say that we need to teach puppies by six months, and only one behavior at a time. Look, puppies and dogs are learning all the time anyway, so if you can multi-task and teach a puppy to flow from stand, to sit, to down, to relax on your side, then this is four behaviors, and bravo! Do it again with music playing, holding a delicious treat, while sitting on a big ball making funny faces and WOW. Now they are use to you looking goofy on a ball, with music playing and getting a treat. What a positive association. To get clarity and strong behaviors, yes, you will have to focus on that behavior. More later ...

Some of us enjoy audio, others visual, and most do well with blended learning. Start at the beginning, where you will discover the basics of Awareness Centered Training (ACT). Flow into Levels 1, 2 and 3 (detailed in Pawt 5).

Know that you can back stroke to Level 1 or 2 anytime. The journey will likely be three steps forward, two steps back, but you are always one step ahead if you are focused, committed and relaxed.

Embark on this adventure with an open mind. Explore the integrative alternatives that are included in all levels to use daily doing what comes naturally, like eating, playing and living. Create your own dynamic sequences focusing on what you want your dog to do, not what you want them not to do. If you don't know, find out.

Listen to your intuition and the dog's instinct. If something does not speak to you or your dog, try a different approach that feels good, but try.

I invite you to my websites and you tube channels listed at the back of the book. Vignettes are being added to collaborate with ACT, like Doggy Diner (Pawt 3) and Dogs, Balls and Balance (Pawt 6) training. Be mindful that a sense of careful humor (do not laugh when your dog knocks someone over), and a deep breath, can lighten almost any tense situation.

Whenever your training relationship with your dog meets an impasse, stop, pause, breathe, and return to the last successful place. If that happens to be sitting on the floor, eyes closed, with your dog lying on his or her back, then that is where you need to be at this moment. If it is rolling in the dirt or playing catch to expend energy, then honor it.

Moving forward from one training posture / goal to the next will only be as successful as you and your dog are focused, present and meaningful. Ask yourself, "How am I feeling today?" Ask your dog, "How are you today? Is this a good time to learn something new?" Ask how meaningful or necessary this is for me and my dog.

I encourage you to laugh, explore, and use your imagination while living and learning with dogs. As shared, humor is the most effective survival mechanism. Like breathing, when we giggle, the body releases "feel-good" endorphins. If something does not feel right, practice intuition (your gut feeling) and intention (objective). It is okay to say, "This isn't working for me and my dogs today." Even taking a 5-minute brain break and time-out can reinvigorate you.

You are the driver of the bus. You can think in or out of the box. You can go as slow or as fast as you like. There is no timeline for learning. However, as I have shared, puppies are sponges that soak up information quickly. If you are not teaching them, the environment or someone else will. May as well drive the bus or be the navigator.

Earlier is easier, but does not mean that older or adopted dogs can't learn. That would be like saying that the predominate population of baby boomers are inept. We know that this is not true medically or intellectually. Dogs and humans have different levels of resiliency, health, quality of life, and attitude that determine how well they adapt to learning and change.

Truthfully, I want ACT to be a positive book for your tool box that teaches awareness. I do not expect that anyone will read right through the book or e-book, like a juicy novel. I feel strongly that this will be a "go-to" resource through-out your dog's life and into the next.

To be aware, we have to be awake to the statistics from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (United States). Nationwide, we have on average (2011) 78.5 million dogs. 5-7 million are in shelters. 3-4 million are euthanized every year, a reduction from 8-10 million, but still far too many. This is not counting cats and other species. The largest majority of dogs relinquished to shelters are three years old and under. The reason is not aggression or bad genes. It is a lack of education and responsible dog care. Wearing blinders won't help. Being responsible, making sensible, informed decisions and training our dogs will help.

Joyful Easy Training (Pawt 5) is the core of ACT. Being aware of when the dog is doing what we want, and quickly snap shooting the behavior with praise, is joyful and easy. You can train anywhere you are with your dog (bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, family room, or car), at any time, using this simple, effective approach.

Level 1—Beginning, Level 2—Moderate, and Level 3—Challenging are guidelines, at varying levels of intensity. Notice that there are integrative alternatives at each level. These give you a combination of focused training to learn specific behaviors, and relaxed training that is included daily while caring for their needs.

When we are aware, focused and relaxed, training and learning becomes natural, easier and enjoyable. We become less stressed and healthier.

Puppies begin learning the moment they are born. We do not teach them how to sit, stand, yawn, lie down, or pee and poop. We teach them when, where, for how long, and because we need them to live in harmony with us and our lifestyle. We do not teach everything they need to know, for a lifetime, with a six or eight week training class. Classes are a good place to learn foundational skills—with a good teacher.

You can be your dogs "good teacher". Joyfully shaping behaviors we desire, in the moment, and while doing what comes naturally, like eating, playing and pooping makes sense. Creating a reliable and respectful relationship with our dogs is, I hope, why you are reading this. It is all about teamwork.

Be creative, take a deep breath, and please turn off the electronics for awhile. If I can do it, you can do it! Dogs, and most humans, learn quicker when centered and calm.

We all have strengths and limitations. Some of us are better at finance and engineering, while others are more prolific at being creative (arts, theater, and writing). Dogs have differences in capabilities too; mainly in the way they use their senses that are keen beyond human comprehension. Did you know that a dog's olfactory (sniffing) is 75 times greater than ours? This can put the environment into perspective. It is like sniffing in techni-color.

Honoring these senses and putting dogs to work by having them sniff out and find something of significance, channels energy into positive outlets. Be the director of your training episodes every day.

* * *

Living in a House of Mirrors

Sage advice comes in many forms, sometimes when we least expect it. Consider it a surprise gift, like getting an unexpected check in the mail from an anonymous donor. It may drive you nuts wanting to know who sent it. Simply enjoy it when it pops up. As we become more aware, we notice "awakening" messages more frequently. The soft messages, like little whispers, float by us frequently. Sometimes we hear the swish, like a soft breeze. Harder messages come in loud bangs (accidents, illness, death and other transitions).

When our dogs do things that bother us behaviorally, it is like living in a house of mirrors. Try not to take it personally or judge your dog or self. Instead, notice when the same behavior happens repeatedly and what is going on when it does.

Sometimes we are afraid to upset the apple cart or too tired. Other times, we are wearing blinders so we pretend not to see when our dog is doing something obnoxious like growling at people while we are petting or holding them.

Our lives can become a status quo, and that's okay, as long as we aren't keeping it that way on purpose, like to control someone or a situation or live in bliss ignorance.

With crystal clear clarity, the progress you are making with your dog will reflect back to you. It is like living in a house of mirrors

Socialization and Manners) (SAM), in Pawt 3 should be on every puppies "awareness" calendar. We will teach behaviors like stand-stay, sit-stay, down-stay, come, take-it, leave-it and relax, as well as more creative ones, like how to be instantly Calm in Chaos, one of many publications that you are welcome to at my website, www. There you will find other articles that may be helpful like Housetraining at a Glance to post on your refrigerator. In addition, ACT will be available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble for your e-readers.


Excerpted from AWARENESS CENTERED TRAINING - ACT by MAUREEN ROSS Copyright © 2012 by Maureen Ross. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Meet Maureen....................xxiii
PAWT 1 – Awareness Centered Training (ACT)....................1
PAWT 2 – Behaviors and Drives—Oh My!....................51
PAWT 3 – Positively Essential for Dogs who Live with Humans....................93
PAWT 4 – Well-Being—You are the Guru....................159
PAWT 5 – Joyful Easy Training—Level 1—Beginning—Let's Go!....................197
Level 2—Moderate—A Smooth Energetic Flow Calming Adolescent Energy Adolescence is about 9-months to 3-years....................210
Level 3—Challenging Choices Training with Clarity—Adding More Grid Teaching with Compassion, Leadership, Acceptance, Integrity and Intention, Trust and Treats, YES more than NO....................224
PAWT 6 – Have Fun, Get Fit, and Balance Energy....................239
PAWT 7 – Stress and Survival Savvy....................253
PAWT 8 – Prevention, Management, Solutions (PMS)....................275
PAWT 9 – Pathways of Grief—Celebrating Life....................311
PAWT 10 – Bone Journals—Dog Reflections....................331
Afterword: Beyond the Positive—Enjoy the Journey....................349
Winding Down: Expanding Awareness....................351
Appendix A: Big Confusing Word Behavior Guide....................353
Appendix B: An Enlightening (fun) Quiz about Interpretations....................361
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