Bones Would Rain From the Sky, by Suzanne Clothier, is not exactly a dog training book, but it’s one I like to re-read, in whole or in part, every now and then. Clothier is a dog trainer, and I enjoy her dog training stories a lot, but what brings me back to this book is expressed in its subtitle: Deepening our Relationships with Dogs.
When I last re-read Bones Would Rain from the Sky, here is a bit that jumped out at me:
Within a loving relationship, we must be willing to do the work of choosing the event of quality, aware that in each interaction, we are moving in only one of two directions: toward greater trust, understanding and intensity of connection, or greater distance between ourselves and another. (page 86)
Hmm. So even though I learn plenty from the more formulaic dog training books I read, here is something to think about regarding the use of any formula, a higher principle to apply when considering any technique. Is it creating greater trust and understanding?
This is not something that can be answered in once-and-for-all way. Dog training — as Clothier points out in many ways throughout the book — is not the training of an automaton, but the complex interaction of two beings, you and the dog. So something that works fine on Monday may not be exactly right on Tuesday — and may be fine again on Wednesday, given the subtleties of the moments. I’ve been trying to come up with an example of some training circumstance, but I think the variables here may be more the mood that you are in, how much everything else in your life is pressing on you, as well as what the dog is like.
If you are working with seemingly intractable issues, this might be a hard question to answer. What’s best in the long term may not be the easiest right now.
Dog training books basically are giving you a set of tools. And now thanks to Suzanne Clothier, we have a kind of meta-tool: are these tools creating events of quality?
Bones Would Rain from the Sky consists of over 300 pages of food for thought: