I have used the term Soul Dog, as it seems to be the only word available in our language. However, the process of defining a Soul Dog made me hate the term. We need a new one. I propose Intuivitive Dog.
These dogs are perceptive, intuitive, and connected to us on a different level than regular dogs. Their new name needs to reflect this.
Intuitive Dogs AKA Soul Dogs Defined:
Many people might confuse a trained dog with a soul dog. A trained dog is technically well schooled. They will hear our requests, and cooperate. We compete with these dogs, and succeed in life with these dogs. They are a joy to live with, and are easy. If someone has not yet had a soul dog, they will struggle understanding the difference. But ten years from now when you get your first Soul Dog, you will suddenly realize what I mean.
The difference in our Soul Dogs is coming from the inner dog. If you are looking at a well trained one, on the outside, they appear to be the same as other well trained / raised dogs, but there is a difference. With these dogs, when you ask something of them, they give their entire selves to you. You get the physical response in addition to them giving you full mental control. Our connection with them is on a whole different plateau. And generally, they have not been easy to get started.
Trained dogs are responsive through technique with good education and repetition. They respond well to our cues. Many dogs become mentally available with good training. They become in sync with us.
The difference is with our mental control. In a trained dog, they will allow me to control them. They willingly and happily respond. In a Soul Dog that control is effortless on both sides of the team. They respond to a thought, or a cue so slight you are unaware you even gave it. And likewise, you inherently seem to just know when they communicate something back to you.
Not only are they available to us, but they are willingly available to us. These dogs are responding to the picture in our Mind's Eye before we speak it. Our words alone are not the cues for these animals. It is our thoughts, our beliefs, and our conviction in the command that we deliver.
The difference comes from the inside of the dog. Our relationship and our requests are a conversation and a way to be, rather than a thing to do. It is effortless. The relationship is a combination of trust, feel, and conviction exchanged between dog and handler, and back again. Trust comes from consistency, and knowing what to expect. It means the dog can depend upon their handler, and vice versa. This relationship, once formed, just is. It is how they act as a pair, effortlessly communicating, and understanding each other.
I believe that to have a Soul Dog you must be intuitive and open within yourself. Most of these guys that I meet are struggling with life, and causing major havoc to the harmony of their households.
Many of my clients struggling with their reactive dogs are experiencing exactly what I am trying to describe, but in this case, the cues have gone wrong. They have not yet found their place of harmony, and while their dog is responding to their slightest cue, it is a cue that the handler never intended to give.
The dogs are doing precisely as they have been told. They don't listen to words. They listen to your breath, your muscles, your fears.... the cues you wish you were not giving. Once you can learn to control your thoughts, and physical body, you will have the dog that will be effortless in those situations.
And likewise, if you are frustrated with these dogs, they will know it every single time you look at them. They hate being wrong, and try so hard to please. To succeed with them we must be accountable for all of our thoughts.
Then there are the Soul Dogs who really are quite untrained, yet their connection is so deep to their person that it really does not matter. While the dog training itself might suck, both dog and human understand each other and continue bumbling along, having fun in the process.
Soul Dogs are outwardly available. They are very perceptive to our cues, intended or not, will adjust their bodies accordingly. But there is also another big piece to this. They are inwardly available. When we ask requests of them, they don't get mentally hard, resistant, or melt at our requests, but rather, they deliver providing they know how.
We must be able to offer up the best of ourselves in order to get the best from them. The relationship is a two way street, where you too are expected to be inwardly and outwardly available. I had three rescue puppies, who in their good foster homes all failed drastically. Their foster homes who succeeded with many other dogs were unable to feel the struggles of these ones. As a result they all had dangerous behaviours at incredibly young ages.
Within days of being understood, they were different dogs and their issues melted away, one by one.
People who do not feel the command they ask can really mess up a feeling dog, even if they are technically correct. Technical cues and release alone are not enough. These dogs can be heart breakingly misunderstood. They end up stressed and unhappy, never able to do anything right. Many resort to just doing nothing... or being hard like steel.
These dogs are deep souls. They understand us on an unspoken level.
And finally, different sports show different types of Soul Dogs. A herding Border Collie is going to look very different to an IPO GSD, or an Obedience Golden Retriever, or a reactive Pointy Eared Bitch.
This was attempt number one at defining what makes some dogs complete partners, versus all the dogs that we love and adore. This is the start of exploring this concept...
And thank you to thought provoking Pippa, Squizzle, Labrador Lewie, Biggy, Skye, Klaus, Rocket GSD, Millie Pitbull and Finn ACD, and all other complex souls that have opened up their tormented minds for me to unravel.