Our brains are hard-wired to the fight/flight/freeze behaviours

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By Mark Laker
Back to Basics


‘This is a different sport to the one we play at home’ a comment I heard at the FCI Agility World Championships from a Team GB handler. It’s true that the speed, the technical challenges and the level of competition was at a different level to UK domestic agility. However the basic principle of the sport remains the same, a clear round trumps faults.

 

In our quest for speed or to master a particular skill it’s easy to forget the basics

 

Our brains are hard-wired to the fight/flight/freeze behaviours. Our sub-conscious is constantly scanning the environment to protect and motivate us. So it’s easy for our brain to interpret dogs running faster, handlers performing a new ‘sexy’ handling manoeuvre to process that to mean ‘I need to be doing that to survive (fight)‘ or ‘I don’t like/not interested in that, I’m off…’ (flight).

 

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But there is a more developed part of the human brain that processes logic, its the part that allows us to stop, stand-back and consider the bigger picture (must get a clear round). However our nature is to conform and to be part of a pack, so to process that logic isn’t the easy option.

 

How do we become aware of when our reptilian brain is ruling our developed brain?

 

There is no one answer, it depends on many influencing factors. However, a behaviour humans (and dogs) are good at is developing habits. Habits automate processes which enable us to carry out repeatable actions without thinking about them… when was the last time you thought about having to blink!

 

Maybe a way to remember the basics e.g. getting a clear round is to develop habits that build the skills required to produce clear runs.

 

I’ll write about the power of habits next month.
Mark
 
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