Resisting Pupspace

As a trainer you need to help your pup let go of thinking and feeling as human and embrace his pup self when it's play time with his master. It is very common for a pup to encounter resistance in his mind as he tries to create and maintain his pupspace, that feeling of being a dog in human pup play. It does take some practice to accomplish getting into that mental frame of mind, so early resistance as pup learns is to be expected. But even experienced pups can find troubles. Overcoming the resistance requires him sticking to a pup focused thinking and overcoming hindrances to that pup focused thinking. 

Most of the work a pup has to do to find his pupspace is internal, all within his own mind. You can assist this by giving directions and guiding your pup into embracing pupspace and staying there. Presented here are five practical steps to do that. It can help you as a trainer to visualise the five steps and count them off on your right hand. Having them easily remembered means you can watch for them and not miss the signs. There are five common hindrances that you can also visualise and count off on your left hand. There is an easy formula to it - Right = steps forward, left = steps backward. Advanced Leash Training covers the Mental Hindrances to Pupspace as it's best to have a thorough understanding of getting into pupspace before adjusting a pups behaviour to desist in negative thinking. So at this early stage we focus on the positive support steps to help your pup get into puspace and stay there.

Pay attention to the present moment

Your pup needs to focus on the here and now, much like a dog lives in the moment. This is done by paying attention to the physical sensations pup is directly experiencing right now. A pup needs to shift his thinking to concentrate on what is in front of him. You can bring it to his attention and help him focus on it, whether it be your groin, your sock, another pup - really just about anything. The key is to make pup rely on his physical senses and not think of anything other than what he is smelling, touching, tasting, hearing and seeing. 

Let go of distracting thoughts

Your pup will find his mind thinking all kinds of thoughts, and unfortunately they can be very annoying to him when they are unrelated to pup play. Some of them, particularly judgements, can be detrimental. Whatever a pup is thinking, he needs to not hold on to it, it needs to be let go of. His thoughts should be coming and going peacefully and be part of what he is experiencing. But thoughts become distracting when they are troubling, worrying, or, and it happens often, about pup thinking what others may be thinking of him! There is no use interrupting pup play for all these thoughts that can occur. Actually examining what he is thinking, especially if he is judging what he is doing, means pup is being distracted from enjoying pupspace. So you can help your pup by reminding him when he clearly begins thinking like a human and becoming caught up in a mental loop or examination. As you know, he must not hold onto what he is thinking, rather just think it, and focus back on the present moment. Don't scold pup - it will only make the distracting thoughts more likely to stay. Gentle prodding to move on in thinking and focus on the present is a better way. 

Accept everything

It is not enough for your pup to simply move on from a judgement that he is thinking, he needs to pro-actively reduce that negative human thinking so it will occur less in pup play. It means using some willpower to defuse a judgemental thought every time it occurs. It means accepting what is being experienced without getting caught up in judging it. This acceptance has to be consciously and wilfully done at times, as judgements can lead to chains of thoughts leading to, leading to etc - before a pup knows it his head is totally out of pupspace. He has to interrupt that chain from forming by accepting what he is experiencing and avoiding getting caught in judgements and conclusions. This is building on the letting go and present moment you have counted off already. The third step you do to help your pup is to instruct him to follow a principle - act like a dog and accept everything and not judge. Before entering pup play, remind your pup to accept everything - applying your protocols of safety and care of course. Knowing that you are there to ensure he is safe, pup can engage in play and accept what happens and he experiences directly without having to evaluate and be wary as a human often is. 

Rely on training and practice

Your pup should utilise what he has learnt from his training to know what to do in any given situation in play. He doesn't need to try and figure out what your intentions are as his owner and trainer, as he has been instructed on your role and is used to your guidance. The exercises he has done, the practice at those, has done more than given him some pup skill. They have given him an idea of pup actions, so he does not need to try and "work out what to do" which will often bring human problem solving and thinking to his mind. 

Focus on being effective

It is terrible to see your pup worrying or feeling concerned he is failing at pupspace, or even puphood. That judging of himself is unhelpful, and it consumes energy and active mind that a pup should instead be devoting to engaging in pup play. The final step you can help your pup take is to focus on more than just directly experiencing what is front of him. Your pup needs to not only notice and attend to the right now, he needs to act on it. His knowledge gained from training and practice gives him things to do and ways to do them. You can help him cement that by directing your pup to doing what he can do, and not waste his energy on what he can't do right now. By knowing your pup and asking beforehand you can know what he wants from pup play moments, and you can direct him to work to accomplish those goals. That means not thinking of anything else, but going after what he wants and needs like a dog at a bone.

These five steps blend together into a path to pupspace for your pup. It is not the only path there, but these five steps will certainly help him avoid resistances that can occur.