The Happy Place is Real! Teaching Your Dog To Love Anywhere You May Train

This blog post is a mini lecture taken from Julie's Cookie Jar Games class.

Classical conditioning affects our minds and our bodies, and the way we perceive the world around us. It affects basic functions like heart rate and blood pressure, feelings, and yes, salivation.

All at the level of the autonomic systems of the body.

Classical conditioning does not need your permission. It is ongoing whether you know it or not, and whether you like it or not. 

Creating Happy Places Where You Train

The saying is that Pavlov is always in the room. I think we should remember that Pavlov got there first.

Because classical conditioning is always in play during your training sessions, you are better off knowing what you are trying to accomplish and why. Then, above all, notice the effect you are having as you train!

Nothing is more important than your dog feeling happy to be working with you. Those feelings lead to confidence and optimism about going to new places with you.

Each time your dog walks into a space with you they have an immediate feeling about the place itself. That feeling sets the tone for the experience they expect to have in that space. Optimism about a new place comes from an aggregate level of positivity that you have built for them in all the spaces you have trained. The more you create Happy Places in all your training spaces, the more your dog will feel confident and successful as they enter the next space with you — this begins at home. You are the common denominator, and you have the power to create Happy Places for your dog.

How We Use the Cookie Jar to Make Anywhere A Happy Place 

We go in-depth on this topic in Cookie Jar Games.

How you set up each session of your training in this class is important. Each time you establish operations to train, every time you and your dog load your Cookie Jar and prepare to play one of our games, you are adding to your dog's aggregate level of happiness for the work we are doing here. Your dog's feelings about his Cookie Jar are under your power as his trainer!

Every session is an investment for the next time. And those feelings will be quickly triggered each time you take your Cookie Jar on the road. The Cookie Jar becomes a cue for feeling happy, and you get to take that powerful tool into new places once you have done your homework with it at home. Home can be full of Happy Place training spaces. You associate the Cookie Jar with those good feelings about training spaces at home, and then the Cookie Jar can trigger that same feeling when you take it elsewhere.

What associations do you want your dog to make with the Cookie Jar? You are already doing very well with that, no doubt. I know that your training spaces at home are among your dog's favorite places. You have a good solid foundation of happy, non-stressed fun with the Cookie Jar. So now you have a strong predictor of fun that you can carry from place to place.

Over the course of this class, we take that Cookie Jar to many different places. The positive power you generate with it is very important because those feelings will transfer. The happy feelings you have built for your dog will help you turn everywhere you do Cookie Jar work into a Happy Place. It is your job to keep that sentiment strong! It is much more important than any particular skill!

What is a Happy Place? 

Happy Place is real, and Happy Place means more than "cookie place." For both you and your dog, Happy Place means a place of personal power, a place of win/win choices, a place where dog and handler do fabulous fun work together as a team. How you and your dog feel about the Cookie Jar away from home will have a LOT to do with how your dog feels about all the places you have trained them at home.

Be sure to set about creating exactly the emotional state you want. That little Cookie Jar is going to be one of your best training tools ever! Once you've done a great job of that at home in your training spaces, we move your training spaces around each time you are ready to bring a new game out and about.

That allows your Cookie Jar to cue the HAPPY PLACE mentality in new places!

Your dog's Cookie Jar will be a powerful part of their positive Conditioned Emotional Response to training, wherever you go. Being in love with the Cookie Jar is a good thing, especially when you want to cue confidence and optimism in new places.

In all of your training spaces at home, make sure your dog feels delighted to realize that he is going to play a Cookie Jar game. Every training space needs to be a Happy Place. In this class we build concepts and skills with our Cookie Jar as a common denominator. Then we get to take it on the road and let the Cookie Jar cue Happy Place feelings wherever we want to train.

The Happy Place is real, and Happy Place feelings are important!

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