Ringing Bells!

One tiny bell can help your communication with animals become more soft, clear and refined.

There’s a trick when working with horses to put a bell on the tip of the whip. Every time you move it you hear the music! The “goal” of the game, if you want to view it that way, is to hear the bell as little as possible. Of course we don’t want to get neurotic over it – there will always be some noise as the whip shifts or as we ourselves move around with our horse. The question is: How little can we hear that clear ringing of the bell? It’s a balance, though, because we don’t want to tell ourselves to never use the whip.

We just don’t want to use it all the time, for everything, without even thinking about it. It should mean something – just the way a horse will bite or kick another after warning him. We don’t want the whip to lose “meaning” or for our horse to become desensitized so that we have to use it more, later. So we ask our horse to do something very softly. Then we ask again with a bit more intention. Then we lift up the whip (but don’t touch them!). Then… We can tap the whip. And the bell will ring, but hopefully, because you used the whip this time, you won’t have to use it the next time around.

This can also be done with dogs (probably with any animal). The dogs that I train as guide dogs for the visually impaired/blind, usually will carry a small bell on their collar. This way their blind owner knows where they are by hearing. If you put a bell like this on your dog and you always just heard a sweet jingling – it’s all good! But if we are walking our dog and we always hearing a loud almost banging sound because the leash is getting jerked around so much… take that as a hint.

Unknown photographer

Unknown photographer

 

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