SDOS Episode 38 – Mindful Dog Training with Jane Arden

SHDOS Episode 38 – Do you ever feel like you and your dog don’t have much of a connection? Well stick around because today Dom is heading back to see the rather awesome Jane Arden at Waggawuffins HQ where they are discussing mindful dog training. Mindfulness is all the rage at the moment and Jane will show you why you need to be a more mindful dog trainer. We discuss why you need to give your puppy your full attention, why it’s good to clart about with a clicker and why sometimes it’s a good idea to throw your training goals out of the window and just enjoy being with your dog!

Timestamps [.51] Alex has been on his holidays [1.44] What is Shoshin? The Japanese dog training tip. [3.10] Where is the mindful garden [3.55] Cockers and Landrovers can mean only one thing [4.51] What is mindfulness all about [6.09] How being mindful will help you enjoy being ‘in the moment’ with your dog [8.10] How to mindfully train your puppy [9.45] Why you need to give your puppy your full attention [11.53] Clickers and cockers [13.07] Rewarding four feet on the floor and focus [16.16] How to make your dog (and yourself) feel good [17.10] Why you need to clart about with a clicker [19.05] Where to find out more about Jane and Waggawuffins [20.51] Where to see the ‘How to Be Your Dog’s Superhero’ seminar tour [21.38] Coming up next week…How to find the perfect dog walker.

Mentioned in this episode

Janes website

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Click here to get the kindle or paperback version of How to Be Your Dog’s Superhero.

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Full Transcript

Dominic Hodgson:           Hello me bonny bairns, and welcome to The Superhero Dog Owner’s Show, episode 38.

Alex:      38 [crosstalk 00:00:28].

Dominic Hodgson:           I’m joined by my very good friend, the interrupter, Alex the video guy.

Alex:      Hello. Not usually, I’m usually the quiet one.

Dominic Hodgson:           You are, you are, you are. You’re no bother, no bother. And I’m Dom Hodgson, your host. Today Alex, we’re going to be talking, we’re going to be going on the road.

Alex:      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dominic Hodgson:           We’re going to be showing an interview with Jane Ardern, we’ll talk about that in just a moment.

Alex:      Yes.

Dominic Hodgson:           First, let’s have a little catch up, because I haven’t seen you for a wee while.

Alex:      Yeah, yeah, few weeks isn’t it, yeah.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, so you’ve been jet setting, am I right?

Alex:      Yes, I’ve been to France, I’ve been to the south of France on a little break, which was lovely. A nice little break, obviously I took my camera. Had to take my camera.

Dominic Hodgson:           Some nice footage I saw of that as well, it’s very nice.

Alex:      Yes, thank you. Yeah, yeah, put a little video together. It was lovely, lovely little break.

Dominic Hodgson:           Good stuff.

Alex:      And you’ve been abroad as well?

Dominic Hodgson:           I have, I’ve been to Cork for a business mastermind thing. That was really good. No dogs. Business owners from all over the world actually yeah. Australia, Qatar, England, obviously, and Japan.

Alex:      Qatar and Japan.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, yeah, awesome. And speaking of Japan actually, there’s a Japanese word that I find very useful in dog training.

Alex:      It’s not rude is it?

Dominic Hodgson:           Nope, no, no. It might sound a little bit rude, but it’s not. It’s shoshin, and shoshin means the beginner’s mind. It’s where you approach any situation without any preconceived ideas of how you’re going to fix it.

Alex:      Yeah, yeah, if you’re brand new to it.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I think it’s, I use it in my book, chapter five of the Superhero Dog Ownership, no, How To Be a Dog Superhero. Chapter five of How To Be a Dog Superhero, that’s how I kick off the dog owner chapter is talking about this shoshin, I use it because I think it’s a great way to approach dog training. To approach building a relationship with your dog is to, rather than going in with preconceived ideas of saying, “I’m going to use a clicker. I’m going to use a whistle. I’m going to use this method or whatever.” You watch the dog what he likes, and you act on what he likes and then you find out what he likes, and then you just use that. His drive for the thing that he likes to get him to do what you want him to do. It works very well. A lot of people obviously read the book, and they’ve had a go at it, this dog audit, and they report that they do have more of a relationship with the dog.

Another kind of word which encompasses all this is mindfulness. Mindfulness is very in at the moment.

Alex:      It is yes, uh-huh (affirmative).

Dominic Hodgson:           I even saw a book the other day, I actually shared it with Jane, How to Create a Mindful Garden, or something.

Alex:      Wow, the garden is mindful?

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, well, apparently so.

Alex:      Or, helps to be mindful.

Dominic Hodgson:           Anyway, if I’m using it for dog training, who am I to knock anybody else, even on my own show. So Jane has been doing a lot mindful dog training, Jane Ardern. I would go try Jane Ardern down in Waggawuffins, in Barry. And while we were there last year when we did an interview with Jane, we also shot this footage, which has became a kind of mindfulness master class, didn’t it really, which went in my inner circle. So those guys have been enjoying that in there. And what we did was took a little chunk of it out to give you guys a little taste of it, so you can get some dog training wisdom from Jane Ardern. Alex, would you very kindly press that button.

Alex:      Yeah.

Dominic Hodgson:           Hi everybody, we’re on location today. I’m at Waggawuffins, we’ve got Cockers, we’ve got Stanley the Land Drover, that can only mean one thing, we’re off to meet Jane Ardern.

There’s the gaffer.

Jane Ardern:      Hi guys.

Dominic Hodgson:           Hello Jane, how are you doing? All right?

Jane Ardern:      Nice to see you

Dominic Hodgson:           Thanks for having me here.

Jane Ardern:      No problem.

Dominic Hodgson:           So, we had a chat a few weeks ago didn’t we for the podcast on Skype, and I was quite intrigue by the whole mindfulness thing that we’re talking about. I wanted to find out a little bit more about it really, so I wondered if you could tell me some more about the mindfulness that you give the dogs.

Jane Ardern:      Of course, yeah.

Dominic Hodgson:           Brilliant, brilliant. This is nice, you’ve been hard at work haven’t you, with the renovations.

Jane Ardern:      Yeah.

Dominic Hodgson:           Very good, very good. No Cockers?

Jane Ardern:      They’re in the office.

Dominic Hodgson:           Asleep for now.

Jane Ardern:      They’re having a rest.

Dominic Hodgson:           So mindfulness Jane, let’s get straight into it. What’s all about?

Jane Ardern:      Mindfulness is something very popular in people from a self-help point of view, and also it’s been used in business, it’s been used in schools, it’s something been used across the board. Something I learned about myself from a personal point of view, and from learning about that, I actually started to look at how I could apply it to training dogs. Also how I could apply it to me teaching people, instructing, working as a professional as well. I’ve looked at the mindfulness as a handler, and also looked at it as a professional dog trainer as well.

Dominic Hodgson:           Right, cool. What about your experiences of it? How has it come up previously in your life, where it’s become something that you thought, “Oh, that could be really useful in dog training,” you know. Can you give me an example of that?

Jane Ardern:      Mindfulness is about focusing on the now, focusing on the moment. We live very busy lives now. We’re often very goal focused, very driven, we’re always looking towards the future. For example, every morning when you get in your car, it’s often that you don’t even experience or have any memory of your journey, because you’re thinking about, “What time do I need to get to work? What time I’m going to have my lunch? What I’ve got to when I get in work.” We’re always, we miss the moment because we’re always thinking about the future, and what’s going to happen next.

Mindfulness enables you to take a little bit of time to yourself, and also work within, spending some time within the moments, starting to enjoy life.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, yeah, and enjoy your dog.

Jane Ardern:      And enjoy your dog. So from a dog training point of view, when we own our dogs, and especially with young dogs in a training context, we’re often very goal focused, very goal driven. We often put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and a lot of pressure on the dogs. A lot of social media these days, people always posting videos of dogs doing amazing things, and people often feel the pressure that their dog should meet these specific expectations, which sometimes might be carefully edited.

Dominic Hodgson:           Very unreal.

Jane Ardern:      And very unreal for people. It’s about getting people to enjoy their puppies. A lot of people are very goal focused about the dog that the puppy is going to be as opposed to actually enjoying the dog and accepting it as a puppy. And enjoying that time, because it’s a very short frame of time for these puppies.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, accepting the fact that, it isn’t going to be perfect, and there’s going to be loads of mistakes, but that’s okay.

Jane Ardern:      Yeah, yeah. And sometimes just going out and just spending some time with your dog, rather than going out with a training plan and goals and efforts. It’s just let the dog be a dog, and you just be the dog’s owner, and have a little bit more fun. It takes a lot of pressure off the dog. It takes a lot of pressure off the owner, and you still achieve great things.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, yeah, definitely, yeah.

Jane Ardern:      Especially from a relationship point of view.

Dominic Hodgson:           The most important thing definitely. You started to talk about puppies there, and I think when people come in, people obviously get a puppy that they know next to nothing, I didn’t when I first got my puppies and stuff. What are some practical things that new puppy owners can do to make sure that they’re going to approach training in the right way and really enjoy the puppy?

Jane Ardern:      One of the things we look at in mindfulness, there are quite a few meditation exercises where you focusing on breathing and relaxing. The aim is that you can start to clear your mind of all the thoughts and anxieties, and what you’re doing next week, and whether you need to go shopping and all those things that people have going through their mind. The ability is to clear your mind. One of the exercises we do on our course is we get the clients to do a mindful meditation just for few minutes to clear their mind, then they train the dog. And what we find is that they are much more focused, they are much more successful in what they achieve, and we also find that the dogs are much more engaged. What we do as an opposition is we get people to think about all the negative things they need to do this week, and then get up and train the dog, and we find that the dogs are much less engaged, because the owner’s demonstrating emotionally, they’re obviously feeling a little bit anxious, a little bit stressed about the day-to-day life.

We’ve had some clients where the dog completely disengages with the owner because they pick up on that negative emotion. That’s an exercise, the meditation requires a little bit of practise. But most people, once they’ve actually achieved the ability to clear their mind of all the rubbish that’s going on, they’re usually quite into doing that thereafter. That’s a good way to apply yourself to your training, because you’re applying your whole self to the dog.

Dominic Hodgson:           I can the benefit in that, because when you, it’s the old thing where if you try and lift up a piano while you’re doing seven times table, it’s too difficult isn’t it, because your mind’s elsewhere. Being able to focus on the puppy, given the puppy your full attention obviously is good.

Jane Ardern:      Yes, and I feel we owe that to our dogs when we’re training that we should at least, they should at least have our full attention when we’re training.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, definitely.

Jane Ardern:      One of the other exercises, which is a fun one is when everybody trains dogs, we are always doing what we want to do. When they set out training, it’s always what the owner wants, it’s the owner’s goal. We do a fun session, through clicker training, it’s a shaping click training session. And what we do is, it’s the dog’s time. It’s the dog’s choice for the dog to do what the dog wants to do. And all we do is we capture and reward anything that’s appropriate. If the dog wants to do the same thing, the dog can do the same thing. If it wants to do several different things, and I think it’s just nice from a relationship point of view, because there’s no frustration in the learning because there’s no pressure.

I like the exercise because lots of people say, “You cannot get through life if you’re not goal focused. What are you going to achieve if you don’t have any goals.” This exercise is a really interesting demonstration. Although it wasn’t what you planned, you achieved some great, because you allow the dog to make the choice and be creative.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, I attended one of your puppy clicker classes once, and went away, trying to do some shaping with Barry. Again, it’s sort of weird to see what he would do. I was trying to get him to do one thing, I think I put a bucket out with something, and we ended up teaching him to growl. Just what he ended up doing. That was, but again, that was like, it was no pressure, it was like fun. Now it’s one of his mainstay tricks kind of thing. Can we possibly get a dog out so you can see us do an exercise?

Jane Ardern:      Yeah, we can do that.

Dominic Hodgson:           Awesome.

Right then, we’ve got you, we’ve a pile of stuff, and we’ve got Drift and the clicker.

Jane Ardern:      Yeah.

Dominic Hodgson:           Explain what’s happening?

Jane Ardern:      Okay, so we’ve got a variety of options of things that Drift can choose to do. He could choose to interact with an object, but he might also choose to just do something that he’s already learned, which might be a sit, or a down, or a spin. It doesn’t have to be an interaction with an object, it is purely his choice about what he wants to do. If I’m going to withhold my clicker to see if I can create or build something else, the option will be, I’m only going to withhold my click for a second. He is either going to stop what he’s doing and do something else, which he’ll get clicked for, or he will continue to do what he was already doing, which means that I’ll actually be building duration on something. We’ll either be getting new stuff, or we’ll be getting duration on something he’s already learned. It’s a win-win process either way you’re going to get something. I’m just going to click anything appropriate that he chooses to do.

Four feet on the floor and focus is fine. He’s gone to the mat.

And the duration there, good boy. Just give him a little signal that we’re having a break there. Is that quite enough clicks and treats. While we stock up with some more. And he’s off already.

Good boy.

Dominic Hodgson:           You’re good with duration, aren’t you?

Jane Ardern:      Yeah.

Dominic Hodgson:           We’re not actually teaching him any specific thing?

Jane Ardern:      We’re not looking for anything specific. What’s interesting is a lot of clicker trained dogs, they’re always taught that if you withhold the click, they must change or do something else, so they don’t ever, or owners struggle to build duration because the dog, as soon as you withhold the click, the dog always stops doing what it’s doing and does something else. I believe that a good clicker trained dog should understand that when you withhold the click, it either means, “Do something else or just keep doing what you’re doing.” We’ve done this with him early on, so it’s very easy to build duration on behaviours because he understands that as a skill through this exercise, because it’s what he’s chosen to do.

Dominic Hodgson:           Right, cool. And how does this fit in with the whole mindfulness thing then?

Jane Ardern:      It’s a little of, rather than me setting the goals, and setting the targets, it’s a little bit of time with me and the dog, there’s no pressure on the dog at all. He can just do what he wants. If he wants to lie down and have a rest, then he can lie down and have a rest. If he wants to keep going, then he can keep going. It’s giving the dog the chance. One of the activities in mindfulness is looking at our own lifestyle, and looking at what we call nourishing and depleting activities. Nourishing activities are activities in life that make you feel good, that you enjoy. Depleting activities are usually chores and things that we have to do in life, but we’re not, so don’t make us feel so good.

Dominic Hodgson:           Like going to work and cleaning the toilet.

Jane Ardern:      Yeah.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jane Ardern:      What often happens with dogs is we often do the things that we want to do, and we never really take into consideration how what the nourishing and depleting activities are for our dogs as well. It’s looking at balance for them, not just ourselves. Lots of people for example, might love doing heel work, and they’ll say, “My dog loves doing heel work,” when actually, they love doing heel work. It’s actually looking at your dog and seeing what they actually like to do.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, I like that. That chimes with me with, I’m big on people trying to find out what their dog likes. Do you know what I mean? Not so much with the clicker, but I can see how this is like, it would be a very easy way for people to get started with clicker training, wouldn’t it. It’s almost, clowning about with the clicker, isn’t it, just having a bit of fun. Whatever you’re doing, or whatever you’re encouraging the dog to do. Whatever the dog finds out what to do, it’s that relationship, it’s between you two isn’t it. Do you know what I mean?

Jane Ardern:      Yeah, yeah. And it is, the session is more about us building a training relationship together, where we’re both enjoying the session. It’s interesting that I find a lot of dog trainers really struggle to do this, because most dog trainers are very goal driven.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t know what you mean. No yeah, definitely, yeah.

Jane Ardern:      And for you as a handler, to learn to do something with your dog without having an agenda, or even a hidden agenda.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, yeah, just to mess about. Just to mess about with your dog, yeah. I think that will just carry on won’t it. Walks will be easier. It starts here doesn’t it. Somewhere, no distractions and stuff where you can just easily get the dog’s focus, you’ve got a fairly high value of treat of there for him, and you’re not asking very much of him. It’s a perfect, perfect ingredients to just build up the relationship isn’t it.

Jane Ardern:      Yeah, yeah.

Dominic Hodgson:           Awesome. Well thanks very much for that Jane. That was a nice little insight into mindfulness, and it was nice to see Drift working as well and enjoying himself. Where can people go, do you, this was like a little 10 minutes. People who are interested in it, can they attend a course or something, where they go to more detail with you?

Jane Ardern:      We run a full work weekend workshop at Waggawuffins. If you go to, you can see the dates on there. We run quite a lot of different weekends, but mindfulness is a full training weekend where you can bring your dog, and we go through mindfulness, applying it to your dog training [crosstalk 00:18:58].

Dominic Hodgson:           Brilliant. And what kind of feedback have you had so far in particular?

Jane Ardern:      We’ve had some really nice feedback. A lot of people have said that they’ve become very aware that they’re not enjoying their dogs, they’re putting a lot of pressure on them. And a lot of them have said that it’s really completely made them change the way they think and approach their training with their dogs.

Dominic Hodgson:           Awesome. Well thank you Jane and Drift.

Jane Ardern:      Thank you.

Dominic Hodgson:           So Alex.

Alex:      Yes.

Dominic Hodgson:           Haven’t seen this very often, but how awesome was that?

Alex:      It was pretty awesome. No, it’s cool. It was obviously something a little bit different. And a little bit when you first, the more sceptical minds like maybe mine and yours think that, “Hmm, mindfulness dog training? Really?” But it makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it.

Dominic Hodgson:           Sure it does, sure it does. And the proofs in the pudding.

Alex:      Yeah, exactly. Totally.

Dominic Hodgson:           Fantastic dog trainer, Jane. We’re very grateful to Jane for sharing that with us. You can check her out on her website, it’s, isn’t it?

Alex:      I believe it is, yeah.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah.

Alex:      There’s puppy stuff as well obviously, all that.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, yeah. And if you wanted to practise a bit of mindfulness, or a bit of shoshin with your dog, an approach trying to build a relationship based on what your dog likes, you should definitely get a copy the aforementioned, How To Be a Dog Superhero. This is my bestselling book. It’s got a 119 reviews on Amazon, five-star reviews as well. We’ve sold thousands of copies of the book and it’s perfect for pet dog owners who love their dogs, but they don’t have any control over them, yeah. If you’re a dog trainer, you want something that’s full of woo-woo wolf theory, and complicated behaviour quadrants, that kind of thing, this isn’t the book for you, yeah. I kind of avoid doing that kind of thing. This is just for pet owners who want to learn how to have more fun with their dogs, you should get that.

If you want to come and see me in person Alex, check this out, we’re doing a UK tour, of the How To Be a Dog Superhero seminar, which kicks off on the second of July, in South Birmingham I think, yeah, Sully Hill Dog Training Centre. My good friend Don Cox is hosting it for us there, then it goes to, I think it’s Devon, Scotland, back to London. And we’ve also just added another couple of dates as they do, these rock stars Alex you know what.

Alex:      Yeah, by popular demand.

Dominic Hodgson:           By popular demand, we’re going to go back up to Scotland in October. Two dates, so we’re hitting Edinburgh, and ten we’re heading up to Aberdeen as well.

Alex:      Proper tour around the country.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, proper little tour. In discussions with people about obviously going to Ireland as well. But anyway, you can check out the details for that on my Facebook page. If you go to Puppy to Dog Adventures, the Facebook page, and then you’ll see the links and stuff on there for that. But that’s it for today, next week Alex, we’re going to do a bit of banter, you and me, and we’re going to be talking about how to find the perfect dog walker.

Alex:      Cool.

Dominic Hodgson:           Or pet sitter, that kind of thing.

Alex:      Interesting. What was about that?

Dominic Hodgson:           That was when I started my business, was the dog walking, and the dog boarding. And it’s approaching summertime people are.

Alex:      Got holidays coming.

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, they got holidays booked, and they’re wondering you know, “Who the hell’s going to look after my dog?” We’ve got some advice for people on things you should be thinking about when you’re looking for someone to look after your precious pooch.

Alex:      Brilliant, sounds useful.

Dominic Hodgson:           That’s coming up next week, but that’s it for now. It’s goodbye from me.

Alex:      And it’s goodbye from him. That is what I’m supposed to say, right?

Dominic Hodgson:           Yeah, sure it is. And if we don’t see you through the week, then we’ll see you through the week.

Buy Dom’s book on Amazon

Click here to get the kindle or paperback version of How to Be Your Dog’s Superhero.

Click here to get the Kindle or paperback version of Dom’s new book Worry Free Walks

Click here to get the kindle or paperback version of the dog walkers business bible Walk Yourself Wealthy

Get the audio book here

Dom’s daily dog training emails

Dom’s YouTube Channel

Meet the Author

Dom Hodgson