The Way to Success: Try Softer, Not Harder when problem solving with your dog

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Lao Tzu, softer not harder, Monique Anstee

The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world.   Lao Tzu 

For myself as a competitor, my motto was always to try harder. We are taught that rewards come to those that try hard. But that isn’t necessarily true. We need to not try harder and be strong in our practise. We need to try softer, not harder.

When we try too hard we force it. We loose the flow, and the relationship that is so necessary when training our dogs. It is the inner peace of mental strength that will get you your goal. Inner calmness will bring you strength. The anger, frustration and disappointment come from knowing that our dogs can behave better. But when we want it the most it means we are incapable of performing well and being the people that our dogs need us to be.

So no more forcing. Desperation is not the same as leadership. Aim for the inner calm, and while you aim for it, concentrate, control your attitude, control your energy, think right, manage the pressure of the impending challenge and stay motivated and determined. If your training is in place, this is now the next step to attaining your goal with your dog.

Put 100% effort into your job, but flow with the current, not against it. Trying harder can make you trip over yourself. Try softer instead.

We handlers also tend to worry about who or what our next challenge is. Worry about yourself- you are your own worst critic, and you will impede your success much more than anyone else will. If you have dog-issues, you are much more likely to make your dog react than the chocolate Labrador puppy that comes flying into your dog’s face.  The challenging stimulus is the accelerant added to the burn pile.  Any fearful response from you will be the ignitor.  So worry about you – think about your job, and work on acquiring your mental strength which is something that you can control.

You cannot control your outside environment, and neither do you need to. You have trained for that. Instead you need to stay in the moment, and put 100% effort into your job; control your mind and what thoughts you allow in, and dispel all fear. You should barely even notice your challenge as your thoughts and job should be so focused on what you are doing.

Stay in the moment, and that will bring you the fun back as well.

When I feel right both my dog and I perform right, and when I don´t, we don’t!

Succeeding is the result of creating a particular atmosphere within yourself. Those who can consistently create this atmosphere or climate within themselves will consistently succeed. If you feel yourself continuing to struggle with your dog and certain behaviours, and you know you have done your training, quit trying harder and quit looking outwards.

Instead, try softer, and still your mind and halt your breath.  Alter your inner environment and be pleased by the affects on your dog.

Happy Training Everyone,

Monique Anstee,

Victoria, BC.  


The Naughty Dogge is a dog training school located in Victoria, BC. We truly are dog-trainers and competitors, bringing out the best in any dog, regardless of breed and issues. That means we teach competitive agility, Freestyle Dancing, Competition Obedience, Retrain Dog Aggressive Dogs, Teach Puppy Classes and Pet Dogs  to be perfect citizens, and work with behaviour problems. There is probably not an issue that we havn´t retrained! This newsletter is copyright to Monique Anstee, January 2013 and may be reprinted with full credit given to Monique Anstee at You can contact us at 250.590.2664

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