Sarah's Blog

Wabi-sabi

No, not something you eat with sushi. Wabi-sabi – the Japanese concept of accepting and appreciating transience and imperfection.

Admittedly, this is something that’s usually spoken about in terms of aesthetics, but I like this. I like it a lot. Why? Because my Chihuahua has just grumbled at my Collie, and nobody cared. I mean, literally, nobody.

The Collie didn’t care, the Chihuahua didn’t care. I didn’t care. No one got hurt or upset or stressed. No one’s cortisol was raised.

I think the little mite was guarding something. A toy, a bit of space, some air. I really don’t know, and I’m guessing she probably didn’t either. It was such a non-event. We’ve already moved on.

Why don’t I care, for heaven’s sake? Aren’t you a behaviourist I hear you cry? The dog growled – shouldn’t you be concerned? Well, yes, I am a behaviourist, and no, I’m not going to make a thing of it.

Years of experience (and a little help from a couple of my philosophical heroes*) have given me a sixth-sense into knowing just which behaviours I need to attend to and those that I can notice and choose to ignore with an attitude of simple acceptance.

Instead, I try as best I can to practise something my great friend and colleague, the awesome Stella Bagshaw (AKA the clicker queen) taught me years ago. Spot the genius and reinforce that instead. Why? Because what you attend to increases. In other words, focus on something and you get more of that, and less of the other. And it’s best to focus on positive behaviours if you can.

Wabi-sabi. Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

Nice.

*By the way, if you are wondering about two of my philosophical heroes, well they are Stella Bagshaw (brilliant trainer and my right-hand-woman on the ThinkDog! Practical course. Oh, and Kung Fu Panda.

Skadoosh.

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