Episode 45 – Unstoppable Trainer with Jesse Sternberg
Jesse Sternberg is a man who unexpectedly began experiencing pain that eventually arose to the level of being completely debilitating for him. Don’t stop thinking that this is just another story about suffering and possibly overcoming a problem. You will never guess how Jesse worked through his pain and how it led to a fascinating career as a dog trainer.
Jesse will provide us with some interesting insights about being a leader through his dog training business. He also will show how what he learned helped him in his personal life as well and how the leadership principles he now teaches can assist you as well.
About the Guest:
Jesse Sternberg is an author, meditation instructor, and dog trainer. He has been working with animals for more than 30 years. He lives in Toronto with his two kids and his pup, Jimmy.
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is an Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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UM Intro/Outro 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:16
Hi, and welcome to unstoppable mindset. Glad you’re here with us wherever you happen to be. If you’ve listened to a number of these episodes, and have learned my story, you know that I’ve been working with Guide Dogs for quite a number of years, actually, it will be 58 years in July. And one of the things that I have learned about working with guide dogs is that every time I go to get a new one, what I’m truly learning is only in part, how to work with that dog, what I’m learning are new and advanced and more innovative dog training techniques. And, of course, what that really means is human training techniques, which we’re going to get to Jesse Sternberg is our guest today. And he’s very much involved in doing a lot of work with dog training, meditation, mindfulness, and you’re gonna see how all that comes together, as well as learning his unstoppable story. So Jessie, welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Jesse Sternberg 01:20
Thank you, Michael, what a great introduction.
Michael Hingson 01:47
Wow, there’s not a great introduction. It just popped out. Well, so tell me a little about you about your life and in what you where you came from, and all that sort of stuff.
Jesse Sternberg 02:38
Oh, man, okay, let’s get the can of worms out of the way. I had a lot of personal things that I’ve had to work through, just like everybody. But I was fortunate to take lessons from all of them, and not let any of the situations knock me down. for about 10 years, I owned a dog daycare, dog grooming dog training business. And I was already having some spiritual awakening experiences that had me hungry for just figuring out what those things meant. So I was studying spirituality and esoteric stuff and whatever, I could get my hands on mindfulness based material and learning about looking after dogs and also running a business. That was sort of the fertile ground for which all of my knock downs came from. And also the ground where I learned how to connect with up to 3040 50 new different dogs who didn’t know me on a daily basis, six, six and a half days a week for a decade and go beyond traditional training techniques. Asking one dog to sit with a with some treats in your pocket is different than needing 48 dogs to be quiet and then you know, put a timeout to some playtime because, you know, you’re a one man shop at the moment and you’re answering a phone call. So I had a different set of requirements, and that I brought to the idea of training dogs.
Michael Hingson 04:33
Well, tell me about some of the Musa you had a number of knock downs and so on. What do you mean by that?
Jesse Sternberg 04:39
Wow, okay. I would say the first significant thing that happened to me was I had some hip pain after a golf swing one day, and then slowly, slowly over a year I had that pain drip as if it was poisoning To my hip, and down my thigh, I had full blown sciatica and could no longer put my socks on, I could no longer run my business. I couldn’t pick up my children. I went into deep depression. My business started tanking, my marriage started tanking, and my mental state tanked to the point where I got suicidal, very depressed, bottom, bottom of the barrel. And so, you know, rallying back to full health, from that, and healing the relationships and, and growing, growing up is a significant thing.
Michael Hingson 05:50
How did you overcome all of the pain and deal with the hip issue?
Jesse Sternberg 05:59
Pain is a really good teacher, Michael. Pain brings you right into the present moment, and it puts in front of you. Something that you can’t take your attention off. Now sometimes that’s a good skill to have. And sometimes you want to have the skill of pivoting away from that and being able to juggle your balls and function. The other thing that Payne taught me was emotional intelligence, because we’re talking about a mind body type of the illness the sciatica thing, and I had to really start to get present with how I was feeling because on a moment to moment basis, something in the environment could stress me out and just shut my hip down. And then the opposite was how do I find healing from this? And of course, love is the answer to everything so. So actually, when I didn’t know what I felt like, my heart was black. I didn’t know what living without anxiety felt like. That’s why I was so into mindfulness. I tried so many things, Michael, doctors physio, Cairo, literally everything. What ended up working was Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a shamanic brew. It’s like a to plants it’s made into a tea can its root, it comes from the Amazon rainforest. And so it’s very strong, psychedelic. Hallucinogenic. Basically, what it did was it just revealed to me the root causes of my PTSD. I didn’t know what PTSD even was. And it allowed me to get the wisdom from what that PTSD really was about. And it was a big is a big can of worms. And ultimately, it led to me, learning how to open up my heart, learn how to feel more connected to the intelligence that the human organism has, with its emotional moment to moment, indicators. And that’s a huge tie in to dog training. And we’ll get into that later. I’m sure.
Michael Hingson 08:19
So you, you, you do trace it back to some sort of PTSD, which, which tells me I would think that somewhere as you worked through becoming more aware, you discovered what the causes of the PTSD were.
Jesse Sternberg 08:38
Yeah, yeah. And you know, what’s crazy about that, is, science can explain that this is multigenerational. No, I, I’ll share an interesting story I’m so I, I immediately went back to being six years old and a very traumatic physical accident, and replayed for me, in my mind, but with a totally different flavor. And I was able to have a much broader perspective of, you know, how my caregivers were reacting in those moments, and I was able to instantly find forgiveness for something I didn’t even know that I wasn’t allowing forgiveness to. So that was epic. And I also hallucinated that I went way, way, way, way back many, many generations in the bloodline and saw some things there too. And that kind of messed my head up a little bit. Because you know, when you see things, even if, you know, are they real, are they not real and they feel certain way. You can’t unsee you can’t and feel things and so I went through a little bit of psychosis after drinking this stuff because I I needed some time to make sense of some new things. probation that just seems so bizarre.
Michael Hingson 10:04
But you work through it, and you got rid of the pain. Absolutely. Which is ultimately the bottom line, that is all the other things that the traditional medicine arena couldn’t do, you were able to work through, which is, which demonstrates, as many times we hear, even from traditional medicine today that a lot of what occurs is in your, well in your mental psyche to be psyche to be able to address.
Jesse Sternberg 10:41
It is the bottom line and, and that’s part of the the drum that I’m beating. And part of the essence of the book here is like, I don’t think I’m a unique man, I think I’m undigested pain, emotional pain is something that our species is just discovering is important to deal with. And that we didn’t have the information growing up about how important it was, is a skill that needs to be developed. And it’s something that can’t be seen. So it’s not easy to talk about, you know, feeling sad, the roots of the feeling sad how to let sadness flow through. And then also the workings of the mind, which is why is my mind always focusing on the sad or on the pain? Why can’t I take my mind off of this? Why can’t I be happy? It’s all threaded together. And it that’s the secret of life, right? When we when we, when we figure this stuff out. What we’re left with is a better version of us were calmer or more peaceful, wiser. It’s like we have a better sense. The pain taught us when we got through it. What really matters, what really matters in life.
Michael Hingson 12:07
A number of episodes ago, we had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Gabe Roberts, who is a psychologist, a doctor who discusses the concept of holographic memory. And what he describes our minds our memory is really a hologram. Which means that inside the hologram, every single thing that is ever made up, part of our being is stored in some little piece of this hologram. And it’s it’s a way to describe it. Because if you go back and look at holograms that that are created today, every hologram is actually composed of all sorts of little pieces, all of which basically are the same thing that still make up the bigger hologram. But the doctrine is the template. Yeah. But Dr. Roberts talks about helping people work through their issues of pain and illness, by going back and literally opening the pieces of that hologram and finding out what’s stored. And getting to that one thing that needs to be addressed or changed. Because everything that you’ve ever experienced or has ever been a part of your life is stored and just as vibrant as ever, whether you remember it or not. And so opening and getting into that hologram and getting to the various components of it is extremely important, which is really what you’re saying as well.
Jesse Sternberg 13:40
It is it’s also an element that I bring into the dog training world because they have their anxieties and neuroses too. And that’s usually the result of their bad behaviors. The reason why I’m getting called over to clients, how do I stop my dog from barking, lunging, jumping? Well, you know, your dog’s got some fears.
Michael Hingson 14:01
Well, you went through this whole experience of pain and so on how did that lead to, to dog training?
Jesse Sternberg 14:10
You know, they were happening at the same time. You know, my path, my path of acquiring the wisdom and going through the pain. I was the temple that I was quote unquote, was working in and living in at the time was my business. So I was I was functioning, I was functioning through it. Actually cannabis and small amounts helped me open up a little bit and keep moving in a very non recreational way.
Michael Hingson 14:53
Yes, in a number of ways where, where cannabis and CBD oil and other things medically do help. So anyway, Go ahead.
Jesse Sternberg 15:02
Yeah, so actually I was learning who I really was, is what was happening while this was going on and who I am is very sensitive empath is I’ve always liked being alone with lots of dogs I liked, I liked being able to feel what they were feeling. And I liked being able to get a big group of them into a tranquil state. There was something about that communal vibration that was just so therapeutic is well, people who have dogs, no dogs are therapeutic. Obviously, it’s not, it’s their presence, right? They have a presence is a presence of benevolence, of joy, of love. These are flavors of love, by the way, and earlier I said Love is the answer to everything. And love is like a higher law, learning about it, what it really is, what its vibration feels like what his vibration does to ourselves, getting connected to that vibration, and what that allows you to do go into the hologram and reprogram and these things happen organically with the frequency of love flowing through you. It’s called Heart coherence going into a state of heart coherence. And I like to say in the book, what I’m what I’m basically saying is, you have no idea what happens to your dog, when you go into heart coherence. And Vaser. Some experiments that I was accidentally running was I would get into these very elevated, meditative, highly lucid conscious states, while looking after these large packs, animals and what I started to see was okay, dog training is really just about communicating. The more effective I can get at communicating with the dogs, the faster I train them, obviously, I’m in the business of train them as fast as possible, but according to some like, and the fastest way is to connect with them at their own level. And in order to connect with them at their own level, you do it from a place of peacefulness, with mindfulness, with the wisdom of how their body language system works with the wisdom of how they frame reality for themselves, which is from a pack, mammal based reality was a non language, non verbal, non manmade language constructs, very much natural element construct. So there’s an element of self growth that has to happen because you have to strip away so much conditioning to get into this kind of state to connect with your dog at the level that I’m talking about. But it’s not difficult to do, there’s a path to do it. They have signals that they make their signals that are good, and their signals that are bad. They are never not paying attention. They are highly present. So you know, adjusting to their way of being is really what mindfulness is, though the same lessons.
Michael Hingson 18:18
Interests, you bring up a really good point, and I’ll go back to guide dog training. I believe that. As I said earlier, the most important thing that I learned when beginning to work and continuing to work with guide dogs is the most important thing is learning how to be a dog trainer and using your terminology. That really means that I’m learning how to become aware of my partner, my teammate, my guide dog, I’m learning how to communicate with them and to work with them. And as I described to people, my job is to be the pack leader. And to be the coach to the cheerleader, the teacher, the the Confessio, the person that they communicate with,
Jesse Sternberg 19:19
there were a lot of hats, you got to wear all the hats.
Michael Hingson 19:23
You got to wear all the hats and wear them with poise. I’ve seen so many people who use guide dogs who with the slightest little bit of unexpected interaction or unexpected things that that go on while they’re working become very stressed. And that of course, gets passed right to the dog.
Jesse Sternberg 19:50
Interesting to just to color that in. It’s just imagine being the dog and you know a series of moments. Your, your coach, your teammate, your, you know, your buddy who’s in charge is calm. Well, that means everything’s kosher. And all of a sudden, they get strict big spike with stress. Well, that’s alerting, right. That’s really alerting and unnecessary. It scans scary. And so now who’s the one triggering that actual behavior?
Michael Hingson 20:26
Interesting, right? Right. It’s not the dog.
Jesse Sternberg 20:29
It’s not the dog. And I want to just so that the guests get back to the hats, right? Knowing which hat to wear. And when isn’t a reflection of self? Yeah.
Michael Hingson 20:44
Well, or which hats or number of hats to wear, because I think that in reality, I have to wear a number of hats all the time, it’s an awesome responsibility.
Jesse Sternberg 20:56
It is. And when you go ahead, actually, that’s meeting them at their level, right. And that’s the fastest way to make a leader the fastest way, I think a leader can make a connection, and earn respect, and earn influence in a non dominating way. And like a Yo, this is just aligning, it’s good attraction is to meet at their level, not to make them meet at your level, it’s true for every relationship, if you can meet that any relationship at their level. And then there’s the least amount of resistance and communication from there.
Michael Hingson 21:40
You, you may want to get them to work at it, whoever at a different level. But you still have to begin by knowing where they are understanding where they are. And that’s also in part what is called establishing a rapport, but you can’t do it unless you truly understand and are aware of
Jesse Sternberg 22:03
exactly. yourself, you have to get there first, and then off. So with dogs, you know, with healing dogs, behaviors or feelings, you have to come in with that mindset. First, that’s the beginning. Because a feeling of fear, if I’m feeling scared, I’m wanting calm reassurance from my leader. That’s gonna fix it, from wanting encouragement, give me the courage.
Michael Hingson 22:34
But I can reverse that. And also say, as the leader, I may very well from time to time, be looking to my colleague, my partner, to see how they’re behaving, because that will tell me things. And I think that is not just true of Guide Dogs. But my my story around that. First and foremost is, of course, what happened on September 11, because when I had a colleague in the office, who was saying there’s fire smoke above us, we got to get out of here right now. I was well aware, even then, that dogs senses are so heightened that if there were something that was an immediate crisis, I’m going to be able to sense that in the dog.
Jesse Sternberg 23:22
Yes, well, and you really aren’t.
Michael Hingson 23:26
And the fact is that, what happened? Well, so there was fire and smoke. I wasn’t smelling it. But I also knew that I worked 24 hours a day with someone who would probably detect that stuff before me. And I knew her reactions to different things so that if something changed, I would sense it from her first. Well, I didn’t sense it. And that told me a lot of how to behave. So it does go both ways. But that only comes when you establish a true real two way, trust. Zack, recognize that there are times that your partner also must take the lead.
Jesse Sternberg 24:14
Exactly. Being a leader doesn’t mean you’re always leading. It means you’re attuned. Actually, the best leaders are so you don’t even know they’re there.
Michael Hingson 24:25
Yeah, they’re so soft. If you’re truly being a good leader, then as I tell every sales person I’ve ever hired, my job isn’t to be your boss and tell you what to do. My job is to add value to what you do. And if you can’t find ways to do that, and if you decide you’re not going to be successful, then you won’t be able to work here but the smart people always recognize that there were ways that I could add value because my experience rinses were totally different than theirs. And there were ways to combine our experiences to greatly enhance what we do. And then, for me to add in the fact that I’m working with a dog that gives me information, that I don’t care what anyone says you won’t get from eyesight all day long, is important, too. So I think that there is a real key advantage to having that kind of a relationship that you’re discussing and describing.
Jesse Sternberg 25:35
Yeah, agreed. And actually, you know, this is not new. Okay? This is the way this is what dogs gave humanity. This was technology for us.
Michael Hingson 25:44
Jesse Sternberg 25:46
And when you think about that train of thought, you take that just back a little bit more, but the dog is capable of doing and how they want to be on your team and what they want to be stimulated and challenged to do. We’re not even taking them out of kindergarten. No wonder you know that they’re not fulfilled.
Michael Hingson 26:10
I’ve maintained for years, that, in reality, I am I am able to communicate with, with my dogs, and learn so much from them, I submit that I’ve learned a lot more about team building, and trust, from working now with a guide dogs. And they’ve changed my behavior. Because of that. I’ve learned more than I ever learned from all the management theory books, and all of the other kinds of things that people write about how to live better lives and be better team builders, and so on, because working with the dog puts it into practice.
Jesse Sternberg 26:57
Right? And if they clearly show you when you’re not a good leader,
Michael Hingson 27:05
yeah, they really do. It’s just part of their nature.
Jesse Sternberg 27:09
And they clearly reinforce when you are a good leader, you
Michael Hingson 27:12
are a good leader. Yeah, absolutely. And the fact is that they do want you to be their leader. I believe, when people say that dogs love unconditionally, I believe that, yes, unless, unless they unless they’re taught in some horrible way not to brag, in which case, they go into their shell. But I believe that dogs love unconditionally, but I don’t think that they trust unconditionally, but they’re open to trust unconditionally, unless somebody destroys that. So being open to trust is really the first part of it. And that’s what they bring to humans and humans should learn that concept of being open to trust, a lot more than love to talk about
Jesse Sternberg 27:57
this, let’s take this thread somewhere. Because trust is so important. Here’s what and and it’s the not trusting your dog vibe, operates below consciousness. Okay, so let me give you an example. You’re walking your dog. So when you see someone’s walking their dog, and they are sensing their dog is going to react in a couple of seconds in the future, because maybe they see the squirrel that their dog hasn’t seen yet. Or maybe they see somebody or a scooter or a skateboarder coming by, okay, so what do they do in that moment, when they don’t really recognize that they’re not trusting their dog, they feel stress. And then when they feel that stress, they act in a way where they’re going to manage that stress, okay? And so they’ll wrap the coil the leash up tighter on their hand, or they’ll change direction, or now they’ve got a feeling that is stressful, that they’re emitting. And now they’ve got an action that they’re using to communicate. And all of this is happening unconsciously. They’re not thinking about doing this. They’re not the same as, but the dog is taking these as conscious communications. Often what they’re saying is, okay, I’m scared about what’s approaching us. Well, what, what would you expect a good teammate to do? You offer a little protection, which is obviously bad behavior. And so how do you untrain that thing or how do you grow in that thing? The question is, how do you earn How do you create trust? How do you test trust in the relationship? How do you practice giving opportunities for the pet to show you you can trust them, and when those and when you can figure out how to do that and when you can let them rise to the occasion. That’s training your dog.
Michael Hingson 30:03
So let’s go back to your example of you’re walking along, and you see a squirrel and you think the dog doesn’t see it yet. What do you do? You, you, first of all need to trust the dog. Okay, you may very well know that your dog wants to chase that squirrel. But until the dog chases the squirrel, or starts to chase the squirrel, you got nothing to talk about, you have nothing to talk about. Now, when the dog starts to chase the squirrel, you got a conversation you have to have, then you can deal with it. But even before then, so you see the squirrel first, you can start talking to your dog, and you can say, you know, you’re doing a great job, what a good dog. And try to keep the the dog’s attention on you. And it may very well help or or lessen the reaction. But you should be doing that anyway. So if
Jesse Sternberg 31:00
you can, if you can do that, in a calm way, I know when you’re where the dog is going to stay focused on you. And you can do that to get past the distraction. That’s a band aid solution. You’re managing it, and it’s effective. And it works, right if you want the conversation to be Hey, buddy. Anytime you see a squirrel, I want you to just be close to me as if it’s no big deal. I just want it to be, yeah, it’s just us. We’re chillin, I don’t want you to tag me. And I don’t want you to think that I have to, you know, do this whole thing rigmarole I want, then what you have to do is you have to, so that’s the conversation when I say you have to know what the boundary is, in your mind, you have to know what is very clear boundaries, I just painted that picture. And then you have to spend some time and some energy and some calmness around that around the excitable item and rewire that programming. Because what you’re really saying is, hey, hey, Doc, I know you can handle this strong impulse. Okay, let’s get you there. Good
Michael Hingson 32:05
job. You can’t do anything until there’s something to do something about. And so you’ve got to wait for the dog to react. And by the way, you might well be surprised because you think the dogs gonna go after the squirrel zactly. But you may have the relationship with the dog such that the dog won’t go after the squirrel.
Jesse Sternberg 32:31
Exactly. And what’s cool about what you’re talking about is self growth. Right? I just, I just got a strong thought it’s it’s stressful thought. How do I cope with it? How do I manage with it there, what you’re saying is, be patient. Alright, see how let’s see what’s actually happening in the moment. Let’s see how it actually plays out.
Michael Hingson 32:52
Now, I have been working with all of my guide dogs. Dogs are are bred at the schools, and are really taught well not to deal with distractions. But even so I can tell when the dog notes something. So let’s say I’m to do the easy example. I’m walking with someone using my guide dog. And they they they say there’s a squirrel coming up. I’m going to be alert to see what my dog does. Exactly. And when my dog doesn’t go after that squirrel, I know the dog’s got a look. And I can tell that the dog looks because the dog, you can feel it turn its head you can feel it. And so the dog looks goes and goes on. I will stop and praise and reward the dog for not being distracted. Which brings our relationship closer. But I’ll do that. Once we get past the distraction, but that’s okay. It’s all about recognizing, yeah, I know what you’re talking about dog. I know what you were you were looking at. But you did a great job. You didn’t do it. You didn’t go after
Jesse Sternberg 34:11
that squirrel. Yeah, good example.
Michael Hingson 34:15
And you got to you’ve got to have that level of trust, which is why dog training today with most people is really about training the person and not the dog.
Jesse Sternberg 34:28
Yes, yes. Well, because a calm dog doesn’t need to be trained. A dog that’s a dog that just stays in calmness. And you’ve, I’m sure everyone has seen these. They just follow you around calmly. And they have wisdom those pets. Those pets have a lot more wisdom about how the human world operates. That’s why they’re able to stay calm. So in other words, those dogs have higher consciousness and their owners gave it to them. Just state that you’re in when you’re walking your dog is very cool, because you’re describing levels of connection to your dog without seeing your dog. And that’s an advantage. Because your body language has much more mammal based leadership. You You never see an animal a mammal in nature staring at the other mammals. Usually when that and we do that to our dogs, in a in nature, the angle of making eye contact. The reason you never see it as it’s almost unwritten, it’s forbidden. I call it the forbidden angle. Making eye contact and holding eye contact generates contrast, strong contrast in the nervous system. It feels uncomfortable. Have you ever had? Can you ever sense that? Can you sense when someone’s staring at you?
Michael Hingson 36:02
Yeah, sometimes I can sense when they’re staring at me now making eye contact is a different story. But staring Yeah.
Jesse Sternberg 36:10
Okay, but when people are walking their dog, they’re staring at their dog. When people are not trusting their dog, they shift into body language with it, which is staring at the dog. And so actually what they’re doing is your current using the body language of the mammals by accident, and they are generating stress. Now, here’s a little secret, a mindfulness Secret. Secret Sauce, say it that way. Sounds cheesy, but strong feelings equals need to act them out. at an unconscious level, very, very heightened energy, heightened feelings. You know, you’re going up a roller coaster, that’s a strong feeling. People are screaming, people are waving their hands. So when you’re using that, anytime there’s a strong feeling in the dog, they’re going to act it out. And acting it out is always going to be bad. It’s always going to be barking, whining, scratching, jumping, it’s always one of those major ones. Okay, so that’s not a calm dog. So the answer is get the dog calm. The biggest secret to getting the dog calm is understand how their language works. And understand when you’re making them stress when you want them to be calm. And you’re doing it by accident. That’s a huge way of meeting them at their at their level. And it gives results faster than anything I’ve ever tried.
Michael Hingson 37:36
Most of the time, I still submit when they’re not calm. It’s true that you are part of the root cause of that. And so your behavior needs to change. And you need to communicate with this person who’s looking to you in such a way that you can deal with creating the calmness again,
Jesse Sternberg 38:00
agree on that. And I’m also going to say the way that you communicate, do it with an action. Do it communicate with a well timed calm action and no need to flavor it in with your with your language. Right because that language is probably not going to be is not going to soothe them the way you think it is. It’s actually a self soothing technique I find as too much flavor in the airwaves.
Michael Hingson 38:28
And maybe and maybe not it’s really soothing even to you but right, it’s how we get conditioned. Now I will say that our cat stares at our dog a lot. But
Jesse Sternberg 38:40
on purpose, okay, there’s a power play happening when
Michael Hingson 38:43
there’s a power play happening. That’s absolutely right. And that’s okay because he stares back at her and just ignores her. So she knows so she thinks she has the power. It’s okay. Yeah. Yeah, they get along really well together though. It’s, it’s it’s fine. They don’t even steal each other’s food much. So it’s good. Yeah. Much. I would never want a dog and I’ve seen some dogs that are just absolute cat haters, and I don’t know what what happened in their lives to make that happen or whatever. But I would never want a dog that can’t get along with other creatures in the house.
Jesse Sternberg 39:29
Yeah, yeah, that’s it’s too intense.
Michael Hingson 39:32
Yeah. And sometimes it’s very difficult to break into to deal with it. But still, I would never want that. At one time, we had a cat, a dog and a desert tortoise living with us and we had to take them all to the vet to be boarded for an afternoon because we were going to be doing some spraying and some Walking around the yard or having some spring done,
Jesse Sternberg 40:02
you turn the cat, the dog and the tortoise to the vet for the day. All
Michael Hingson 40:06
three. Yeah. And the dog and the tortoise. We unfortunately never got a picture of this, the vet regretted not having a camera, but the cat was in one cage. And the dog in the tortoise, we’re in the other. The tortoise walked around the cage a little bit, came back over and got prone. The dog walked around the cage a little bit and then got prone, putting his paw over the tortoise, and last lap that way for about three hours. I love it. I love. So when we encourage that kind of relationship, and it works really well. We’ve been very happy with that. But the reality is, it’s more our training that needs to happen, then what happens with the dog, or any training? And yeah, there are, there are things that you, you train a dog to do you train a dog to do specific things that you want the dog to do, but you train different commands, but again, how you train makes a big difference, the schools have become much more active in using clicker training. And I’m a fan of them too. Yeah, clickers are great, because it’s a, it’s an absolute instantaneous demarcation of what you did, right? You don’t use it to point out a negative behavior, it’s, you did it right click, and then you do a food reward. And it is so incredible, as to how much it is improved by dog training to do with that
Jesse Sternberg 41:40
way. But you know, as as as a lifetime dog trainer, and as a balance dog trainer, Mindfulness Based dog trainer, I view my profession as like, I’m an artist, you know. And the clicker is just a, a new, awesome tool, and learning how to use it in all of its creative ways. Very high potential, rehabbing fear base dogs, very high potential giving confidence as Mark has, you can mark those moments. But, you know, I just want people to appreciate it’s a modality of communication, you it’s not the it’s not exactly meeting the dog at their level. It’s not communicating to them moment to moment to moment with your body language. But when they’re about to get conditioned out of being neurotic, or scared or anxious, then it becomes an awesome tool. Or we are reinforcing Poppy behaviors. Awesome tool, new training behaviors. Yes.
Michael Hingson 42:54
Right. And and that’s probably the most powerful way it’s used at the schools is reinforcing behavior.
Jesse Sternberg 43:01
And it’s also difficult to use, I have to say, Michael, it’s difficult you fumble with it. You have to have it ready. You have to have the treats, right? You have to really plan ahead for it.
Michael Hingson 43:12
Oh, absolutely. And the trainers keep the clickers in their hands. Even when we start working with the dogs, the trainers are the team leaders that the dogs are most used to. So for example, when I first started my first walk with Alamo, my current guide dog was a black lab. We were walking down the street, we got to a corner. The dog stopped appropriately. But even then, instantly, the trainer clicked. Yeah. And I gave the dog a food reward. And what we asked for time was to translate that to I carried the clicker and clicked just to reinforce the behavior, even though it was very clear that the dog knew
Jesse Sternberg 44:00
what yeah, great feedback. You’re doing great.
Michael Hingson 44:03
You’re doing great. And I recognize you’re doing great. I want you to know it. We actually taught the dog to stop at a muzzle kind of a driveway. It was it was almost like an alleyway between two buildings. But there was no curb to really tell you it was coming. But between the trainer and I and clicking, we taught the dog to stop at that alleyway. And I submit that if we went back up to Gresham, Oregon today, he would still stop there. Of course, because behavior was so ingrained and clickers can do that. And if people want to learn about clicking behavior, they really should go study it. Karen Pryor was the one who brought it back to dogs. It actually started with dogs BEFORE HORSES and then they started using it with horses and it kind of fell away from dogs and then it came back and what around 2000 or so when has become a much better tool with dogs as well. And it just makes perfect sense to do. But clicking is a wonderful tool, but it is a tool and it’s a it’s a positive tool. It should not be used in a negative way. By but I find even today if I haven’t been out for months, I can click the clicker and the dog’s head will pop up. Yeah,
Jesse Sternberg 45:27
yeah. Yeah. So when you anytime you have a lot of power, you got to be responsible with that. It’s a responsibility. Yeah, you can’t. You can’t misfire. No, you lose. You lose. What what happens when you misfires you lose trust.
Michael Hingson 45:44
So trust and you lose credibility.
Jesse Sternberg 45:46
You lose respect, you lose respect, which is one thing. I remember thinking, but I didn’t get a chance to say is, yeah, dogs, you said this talks about the dogs love you. Yeah, you know what, you know, I thought, respect deserved.
Michael Hingson 46:02
Respect is absolutely earned. And people need to understand that most pet owners just have no real clue about integrating their pet into their family and making them a true family member and making them a true family member. It doesn’t mean you let them just jump up on the bed or all those other sorts of things. It’s a relationship issue.
Jesse Sternberg 46:26
Yeah, yeah. And they’re just gonna reflect where you are, personally, you know, and just how you how you approach self love and your own boundaries, and you know, your own relationships with people, your dog is going to mimic that. And the reason why they mimic that is because they’re never not watching your emotional frequencies. So when when you come home, from work, and no one’s home, the dogs home and the dogs will be watching you Be who you really are watching how you behave, when you’re talking on the phone, when the pizza guy comes everything. And when your dog then goes into life and is in being social in social aspect, either either new people or new dogs or new environments. If they’re feeling free, if their frequency of their feelings matches up yours, when you’re home alone, in those moments, they’re gonna behave the same way. Yep. So you know, if you’ve got a hot temper, your dogs gonna have a hot temper. If your wedding, whatever it is, they match that. And what’s cool is, when your dog’s doing that you usually don’t like how their dogs behaving, it will give you clues on how to heal it. That’s just going to fix things in your life to without even thinking about without even trying it. My fourth, but you’re talking about it. I mean,
Michael Hingson 47:53
I know what you’re saying. My fourth guide dog Lynnie was one of the most empathetic creatures I ever knew we would go to parties. And our pastor of our church was a good friend of Lynnie, my fourth guide dog and observed her at various places. And she said one day when we would when people would come and visit us, or we would go somewhere and they said you can let her go loose and won’t wouldn’t do it unless they, they allowed it. I knew she’d be well behaved. But our pastor said, she always goes to the person who needs her the most first, because they’re the most in pain. And then she goes around the room to see other people. And of course, she wasn’t talking about physical pain.
Jesse Sternberg 48:38
Only the pain a pastor would know right after Congress and the pastor would know.
Michael Hingson 48:43
Yeah. As we observe as we observe Lynnae, that’s exactly what we saw. And she would go over the
Jesse Sternberg 48:52
truth. She’s a true healer, a true. True vessel of light.
Michael Hingson 48:57
An old soul. Yeah. Lovely. So tell me is people keep talking about the alpha dog and the Alpha creature in a team? And yeah, tell me about that concept of what you think of that.
Jesse Sternberg 49:12
I intentionally write about this quality called that I call peaceful out. And I say intentionally because I actually alpha is a trigger word for our present times, mainly because it’s associated with toxic dominance, toxic masculinity. So I wanted to bring healing to that. Now, the idea of this peaceful alpha is that the way a dog the way you behave, if you behave in a certain way from your dog’s perspective, as the calm leader, as the calm watcher, as being in The same level of attunement with the dogs feelings like you are when you’re walking past a squirrel, knowing how to interact and bring it emotional peace, providing for it in a way that challenges and stimulates and grows them expands their consciousness, well, they end up giving you a certain kind of respect, they end up, give it they end up, you earn it, they end up showing you different quality behaviors. When I go to client’s homes, even years after training the dog as a puppy, the dog gets up from their side and it comes to my side and it lays down by my side. I don’t even talk to it. I haven’t even looked at it yet. And I haven’t even really touched it yet. So the dogs have a sense of presence, and a way of relating to presence and so peaceful alpha is a state of consciousness. It’s there’s a lot of wisdom, a lot of calmness, a lot of Swift acting, and a lot of recognition of you know, your dog’s feelings. What could spike your dog’s feelings? And, well, well, grooved boundaries, non challenged boundaries, fair, fair boundaries, no need to get excited at the door. No need to get excited, you know, by the squirrels. Mostly just the ability of keeping the dog calm.
Michael Hingson 51:50
The plan? Go ahead.
Jesse Sternberg 51:52
Well, yeah, I think I think you’re gonna guess it say, No, go ahead. The point is, is that you’re providing a richer quality of inner life for them and outer life for them. And that’s why they respect you. And you can’t do that, who’s the one that’s doing that, that’s the leader. That’s the position of the alpha. And that’s what they’re looking for in that. So I’m trying to say, Guys, you can get that all the power. You can get it through wisdom and love and self restraint and self discipline and emotional intelligence, and presence.
Michael Hingson 52:31
It goes back to the alpha position, doesn’t need to be the boss position. It’s not about bossing, it’s not about dominating in exactly a way that is intimidating. It’s all about spirit. And that’s true. Yes, it’s as true in the human human interaction as with the human dog interaction. And it’s exactly
Jesse Sternberg 53:01
because of humans. If you behave this way. Humans gravitate to you. Because your word has wisdom in it doesn’t let them down. You, you end up giving them what they already know they need, it’s just a little bit of a boost, and there’s no ego, you’re not trying to get something in return for it. It’s because you want to do it. And so this notion of being a peaceful alpha is like, you know, I just wanted to find a cheeky, clever way to take humanity on a journey of bettering themselves. And, you know, I worked with what I had with what I do my tool was I knew dogs. And so that was my mission and writing my book.
Michael Hingson 53:49
Well, we’ve been talking about dogs can you use the same behavior with other animals like cats and so on?
Jesse Sternberg 53:55
Actually, Michael any mammal, because if you understand the language, you understand that their body language is coming from emotions, and most of their so anything a calming sick, Google calming signals, Turid Rubis talks about calming signals for a long time now. That’s the essence of the body language. But I also talked about that confrontational angle. All of the body language is around de escalating emotions. And so you’re sitting at the poker table and somebody gets a good hand. They get excited. Yeah, they’re acting out impulses, but those are calming signals, mammals happen. So you know, it’s just about getting attuned to the fidgety the subtle, the, the inner workings of your own self. How do you behave? Do you bite your fingernails when you get anxious, you have an expression of your energy. So learning about how you move your body through space and mastering that in a way so like you’re playing the angles with your dogs is going to show up, when you walk into a room full of people, you’re gonna walk into a room full of people with a different posture with a different, more broadband consciousness, your eyes are going to pick up when other people are getting stressed around you. And if you’re empathetic, if you’re calm, you can bring a little attention to that. And that does wonders. So that becomes reinforcing. So this is just a skill at becoming a better human being.
Michael Hingson 55:33
But here’s the real question. Does it work with training politicians? Just just tonight, check that out. It doesn’t work against you go? No, it’s it’s a real challenge
Jesse Sternberg 55:50
for Iowa. If we could get politicians to drink Ayahuasca, Michael, that’s totally
Michael Hingson 55:55
they would get a an interesting experience, wouldn’t they? Tell me about your book?
Jesse Sternberg 56:03
Okay, my book is called enlightened dog training, how to become the peaceful Alpha your dog needs and respects. The first few chapters are examples of how the body language works with the dogs and what they’re saying and how they’re saying, and there’s diagrams and there’s pictures. And it also shows how humans accidentally tap into this. The rest of the book is really interesting, because each chapter is a unique case study of a human with their dog with the dogs problems with the humans characteristics, their neuroses, their anxieties, and these are all common, these are all common with every pet owner. And so the case study has a solution to it. And the solution is a mindfulness based solution that incorporates the dogs feelings, and some advanced but simple dog training techniques. And people the idea is that people read it and they go, Oh, my God, that makes so much sense. I see that. And I see how it works on my dog, and I see how I can grow from that. And then there’s a, you know, at the end of each chapter, there’s also a training tips, summary, bullet points, what exactly to do in these types of problems. And then there’s a meditation, how to get yourself into that kind of calm state when such and such is happening. And just, you know, like a consciousness expanding, wrap up of each chapter. So that’s the essence of how my book works.
Michael Hingson 57:32
So you, one of the things that people will ask is, but my dogs always afraid of thunder, you can fix that too.
Jesse Sternberg 57:41
Yeah, because we’re just talking about fixing the relationship of fear. Yeah. There’s actually every example is either example of working with a fear or working with an excitement. And that’s what’s cool is it doesn’t start with that it starts with the behaviors, right? Why does my dog because, you know, let’s go to Thunder, why does my dog run around hide under the howl and hide under the bed? When there’s a thunderstorm? Well, lying down on the belly is what I described as the fourth stage of the fourth stage in the posture of surrendering maximizing the surface area on the earth. That’s grounding. That’s calm. That’s wise. That’s wisdom. When was last time you did that, when you were scared? What would happen if you did it? Okay, interesting. So there’s a hint there, if your dog trusts you, and if the environment is safe, if you can get your dog to go into a lie down, and if you can get them to stay there, you can actually watch them restrain themselves from leaving. And you can watch them breathe, because they’ll have you know, they’ll have a rapid breath working, and you can time it. You can encourage them, give them courage, while they’re breathing that out, while they’re facing their fear. They’re confronting it. And then what’s left is experiential wisdom on their part. Wow, I got through that. Wow, you helped me get through that. Wow. Thank you. I appreciate you. And as you end up, you know, as you learned how to do that with your dog. You need patience. You need connection, you need calmness, but boys and rewarding the rewards from that never stop copying. Nope.
Michael Hingson 59:36
It all goes back to trust.
Jesse Sternberg 59:40
Exactly. And trust just so people will get this like trust is an expanding asset. It doesn’t just you don’t just flip it on and that’s what you got. It never ends. It can do it.
Michael Hingson 59:54
And it’s an ongoing process to evolve it and improve it and enhance it.
Jesse Sternberg 1:00:00
It’s an expression of love, it’s a virtue of love and love can keep expanding.
Michael Hingson 1:00:07
Well, this has been a lot of fun. And I’ve enjoyed it very much. But I want you to tell people how they can get your book and learn more about what you do and maybe reach out to you and, and engage in conversations,
Jesse Sternberg 1:00:24
all of those things they can do directly from my website, which is peaceful alpha.com. And you know, the book, it tells you where to get the book from there. But you know, if you just want the book, you can get it from Amazon or Books a Million, or it’s a published book by intern press, which is owned by Simon and Schuster. So any bookstore can just order it for you.
Michael Hingson 1:00:52
Well, Jesse, this has been absolutely enjoyable. And I am really grateful that You have given us so much of your time and your insights and I hope people will reach out to you and I hope that everyone listening will take to heart what you have told us about learning to establish better relationships with our dogs and our pets and each other for that matter.
Jesse Sternberg 1:01:22
I really appreciate being on your show, Michael Time flew for me and I had a great time and really great energy and then just enjoyed our conversation. So thank you for having me and, and for your interest in in helping me share my story.
Michael Hingson 1:01:43
Well, thanks for for being here. And for all of you. Peaceful alpha.com is Jesse’s website. Go there. And please check it out. I want to tell you I very much appreciate you being here today and listening to us. Talk. I think it’s been fun. I hope you do believe the same and that you learn from it. Reach out if you have any comments or would like to make any suggestions about this or any of our episodes or have thoughts of people who you think ought to become guests on our podcast, you can contact me through email at Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I at accessiBE at A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to www dot Michael hingson.com M I C H A E L H I N G S O N.com/podcast. And wherever you’re listening to this, please give us a five star rating. We appreciate it. Your ratings are invaluable to us. So thank you very much again, and we hope that she’ll be back next time for another episode of unstoppable mindset. Jesse again. Thank you, Michael.
UM Intro/Outro 1:03:01
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