Perspective, Perception and Perceived Resistance.

Take a look at the video clip above.

What do you think? Is the train going right or left? Is it going into or out of the tunnel?

Why am I asking you this?

Because this is a really good moment to introduce the idea of perception, perspective and how they both go hand in hand with resistance training.

There are several schools of thought and training programs circulating now about how to truly make the most of dog training and behavior by changing the way the dog perceives his world, or better yet, how WE as trainers and owners need to start understanding that dogs view things so differently. We won’t get into those concepts here, but we are going to really focus on the idea of perception and perspective when it comes to incorporating them into resistance training.

 Regardless if you follow the program or not, it is vital that you understand the idea that can literally make a dog successful…or a failure.

Perceived resistance is a term that I reference quite often when I am talking about weekly progression throughout your training sessions. With dogs, we obviously know they don’t speak English, so they rely on their other senses to make inferences and guesses about their world (perception).  Now, that might be something you already know….. but now try adding weight to them and asking them to take a hike or move down a 16 foot track with something chasing their tails. I am not saying it shouldn't be done. I am saying that we need to take into account that both their perception and perspective will differ from ours.

Here is where this is crucial in training.  When we, ourselves, head to the gym to workout, we know and understand that adding 5 or 10lbs more to our current weight is going to be harder— maybe not much harder, but it will feel different. We have the ability to know, understand, rationalize and reason to make sense of it all. We perceive that weight to not be so heavy.  Now take this idea back to dogs. Perceived Resistance is the idea that the weight the dog is experiencing or feeling might be vastly different than the actual weight. This can be influenced by more than just actual weight, including but not limited to the equipment used, or the surfaces picked.  15 pounds of resistance weight might not be hard for a dog who has been training a while….but now take that same 15 lbs of resistance weight and run it through sand, mud, or tall grass. Guess what happens to how the dog experiences that or feels about it?  This same perception happens with us too! If you are a runner and are well conditioned and run an average of 6 miles a day, those same 6 mile runs on an incline now feel a LOT harder, or more challenging. Sure it is more physically demanding to your body—and being human, we can rationalize that and understand WHY it felt harder. With our dogs, and resistance training—- they don’t have the luxury of speaking our language so that we can articulate this idea to them. We can’t tell them,“ look it’s ONLY 5 more pounds and you just did that last week!”
Resistance training is all about helping dogs overcome adversity, resistance, and self doubt. It’s not about a number, the weight on the cart, or some ribbon or title. It’s about building confidence and love for the dig.  In order to do that however, you have to really try and understand for yourself how what you pick for weight, the surfaces you choose to use, or the amount of effort you are asking, will influence their perception of reality. Not saying that it should never be challenging, but there is a time and place.

A ton of factors can influence their perception, and remember—-our perception eventually becomes the reality. If we continuously set the dog up to fail, pretty soon, they start to believe it.

Ashley Sculac