I became familiar with the OneMind Dogs method during our agility training, and maybe not at first, but after studying it more deeply, I was unalterably convinced. I would like to make it clear beforehand that this writing is not about agility, as the method can be applied just as well to everyday life, its observations highlight the problem, show the situations from the dog’s perspective, thereby showing the way to clear vision and perfect cooperation.
The OMD method is based on the natural behaviour of dogs, and is all the more likeable as its creators (Janita Leinonen and Jaakko Suokuunti) had the dogs in mind when naming it. It is all about the dogs, as Janita says: „We didn’t want the method named after us, because it was actually created by dogs for dogs, not created by us people. Dogs taught us to understand. Without my deaf dog Tekla, we would never have begun to understand how dogs work in agility.”
The main aim is to create a seamless connection between dog and handler. You have to learn to think from the dog’s perspective, as if your minds were connected. Dogs do their best to understand people, and they do it mainly by the means of nonverbal communication. If we communicate with nonverbal signals flawlessly, every dog in the world will understand. On the agility course it becomes clear that body signals, the direction of the feet, but even the direction of the face, the look and the facial expressions are easier to interpret for a dog in pointing out the way than voice, speech or commands. By observing and getting to know the movements, thoughts of the dogs, we can learn to communicate fluently in their silent language.
If, for example, Bogár fails to perform an obstacle on the course as expected, then we analyse my movements and behaviour, or the parts of the course that may disturb the dog, to find the solution… and we do. What’s more, it’s never the dog’s fault.
This can be seen in everyday life as well, if the dog is inattentive, doesn’t walk properly on a leash, or doesn’t sit down at a given hand signal. It turns out that it is the owner who is “failing”, which is immediately evident to an outsider, but for us it is more difficult to realize that our standard movement, usual tone is wrong and should be corrected, so we blame it on the dog. Sometimes it is worth to ask someone to take a longer video of us when we are handling the dog. It can hold an awful and at the same time extremely funny distorting mirror to us, just as our dog, highlighting our mistakes.
Let’s study the dog. Let’s understand and help it until the two souls connect and meet the challenges ahead with one mind. Our dogs are the best teachers, and we owe this method to them. So let’s learn from them.
„We do not limit ourselves by setting rules in stone. There is always more to learn, try out, and understand.” – Janita Leinonen