What Buddhist Scriptures Teach us for Dog Training and our Difficult Dogs

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Buddhist Scriptures (Amyuktagama Sutra, volume 33) help us understand about mindset: “It is said that there are four types of horses; Excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones. The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver’s will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first one does, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones. You can imagine how difficult it is for the fourth one to learn how to run!”

If asked what is the best horse, we would mostly all pick the first. He runs, he is quick, and you don’t need to use your whip. But that is contraire to Buddhist thinking. The first horse teaches you nothing, though it would allow you to win competitions and be the envy of your friends.

The worst horse is indeed the most valuable one to the learner. It is the worst horse who will teach us how to be better riders, and who in himself – is willing to take a beating to make our individual riding knowledge grow. He will teach us patience, and respect. Teaching the last horse how to run will be a challenge unto itself – one that will be a victorious goal once accomplished.

Now think of your own difficult dog. As you begin retraining, you are going to experience an intimate relationship that you may never have had before with a dog. You will learn to understand your dog to a level that most owner’s will not comprehend. Your dog is willing to teach you all of this – making him the better dog.

The dogs that come to us perfectly mannered do indeed make us look good, and are lovely to be with. But they teach us very little and do not contribute to our growth as dog-trainers. Your difficult dogs will make you grow, learn, and become better within yourself.


Monique Anstee


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