dog laying down

Pause & Process Dog Training Method

Pause & Process dog training method is fundamentally the skill of Learning.

When working with a dog with behavioural problems you have to think about the stress levels it is experiencing at all times. An increase in Cortisol (The Stress Hormone) which can inhibit its learning process. However does this mean that we should not put a dog through a learning process that could cause increased stress and keep everything positive and reward based or should we just monitor the levels and keep them to a minimum?

What is Pause and Process and why is so powerful? We process information every millisecond of everyday and the majority of this information is being processed via the unconscious mind. We see, hear and smell so many things around us but we don’t have to think about it as we know what it is instantly. However if we are inputting new information via the conscious mind our brains need time to sort the information. So we need to pause even if it is just for a second and let the conscious mind to input the information, if we don’t the information gets jumbled up, confused or even lost in the unconscious mind. This process is used by every species of animal on this planet as it is the fundamental and basic foundation behind how the brain works.

Let’s look at the human learning process and compare naturally intelligent people, with those that struggle to learn or have learning difficulties. We are not so different from dogs in many ways as in humans some dogs learn quickly and easily others struggle and are distracted easily or even avoid the process of learning. Some humans find it so easy to learn from day one of their school lives they embrace the learning from their teachers or piers. Taking everything in and processing this information in such a way they are able to store it within their mind and access it with ease at any point. These people are known as intellectuals, they need to constantly stimulate their minds to satisfy its appetite for information. It is easy for these people to cope with learning new skills without exhibiting high levels of stress as their brain can process the information needed to learn the new skill quicker so the stress level is minimised.

Now what about someone like me and the many millions of people who struggle with learning?

I have never considered myself an intelligent person, however I know what I know and I keep challenging myself to learn more and more on a day-to-day basis. From an early age I was diagnosed with Epilepsy and along with all the tablets I took to calm my brain down my early stage learning ability was hindered somewhat. My parents like many other parents were told not to put me under any pressure and don’t expect too much from me. Now this is where the problem began and the similarities began. I know I took advantage of this and was never pushed. My parents felt it was better to reward me anyway even though I was not achieving my best in any way. This was my downfall as my education suffered. I was confused and I fell into a trap of; “If you say I can’t and you don’t push me to do it, then I won’t do it”.  I actually for a long time believed like all my piers (teachers & Parents) that I would never amount to anything.

So what changed? How did I get to where I am now intellectually?

I changed, I stopped feeling sorry for myself,  I found people in my life that could help me, push me and see me as a normal person. The rewards are only just now showing, but it has been a very rocky and sometimes an almost impassable road. Still to this day I cannot process new skills quickly, it takes time to learn and process the information. There many millions of people who have had or who are still struggling with the process of learning a new skill.

The understanding of many people is that if a human or a dog is put under stress, pressure of learning becomes inhibited and may cause unwanted behaviours. I have had to put myself through the process of huge amounts of stress, pressure and anxiety over the years. I have learnt that if I monitored my stress levels, eased off when they got to high and use a technique that you see in dogs called Pause and Process I am able to calm my mind and return quickly to the learning.

Some dogs learn quickly they are truly motivated and focused; they want to give up all of these unwanted behaviours. Others are slower and need more time but this does not mean they can’t be pushed and put through the same process as any other dog.  Reward is the end result, not the beginning or the middle. It has to be the end result to mean something whatever species we are.

In dogs rewards like food can be a great motivator. But used wrongly will confuse and increase stress level or pressure while learning and could actually de-motivate. Remove the food at times of high level stress or pressure and use the natural technique of pause and process you will decrease the stress levels which in turn will allow the dog to return to the learning process quicker each time.