The Power Of Your Dog

The Resource for Everything About Dogs

The Power Of Your Dog

by Kirsten Frisch

What is dog power?

The most common answer is the power a dog has when pulling something. That definition, often relates only to the dogs physical strength. Dog power can also mean the power of your dogs spirit. Recently, I had an amazing discussion with Gary Williams. Gary is 3rd degree black belt in the Mars-Zen-Do style of Karate. He owns the website His website offers insights into how Karate can help improve a variety of sports.

Gary and I discussed the similarities and differences between Karate training techniques and dog training techniques. In Karate, sparring is the practice of technique, but sparring does not have to include contact or physical harm. Canine sparring is what what happens when dogs play.

In Karate, instructions are barked out to keep the intensity of the movements up. The instructor will then make his way down the line of students critiquing stances and movements and giving praise or correcting positions. At the spiritual or etheric level, eye contact is always part of that praise. The student receives positive reinforcement through the acceptance of the teachers' energy. The lower level student is expected to accept eye contact so that he can receive the energy the teacher is giving. At the higher levels, energy is exchanged through Karate blocks and strikes whether there is contact or not.

Respect for the Sensei (Master) comes from this exchange of energy. In dog training, you must breathe AND offer your dog an acknowledgment of respect and an exchange of energy. If you just hold your body and breath rigidly while staring your dog down hoping he'll look away, you have not asked for respect, you have simply bullied your dog. Asking for respect is a two way street.

Respect also comes in the form of respecting space. If a dog growls at you when you go near his food dish it is not always a challenge. It is just a reminder for you to respect the dogs space, and the fact that he considers that dish and the food in it his. Giving respect at a simple time like that can be meaningful to a dog. Challenge him at that time and he may not back down. Things can escalate unnecessarily. This is the difference between picking fights and respecting space.

If you have a working dog, like a Husky, they are bred for a specific purpose. That means they have certain genetic traits that allow them to do the things a husky is bred to do. The characteristics such as strength, endurance, and intelligence come with, for lack of a better term, side effects. These side effects have several names such as stubbornness, excitability, or bad behavior. Good dog handlers (or Karate Masters) harness the energy and spirit of side effects into stamina. This adds to the overall power of the dog (or human in Karate).

Stamina is only one benefit of being able to harness and channel the spirit and energy (in dogs and people). Train-ability and loyalty are also things that are present in those traits. Depending on the environment the husky (or human) grew up in, and the teachers or trainers they have as they mature, is what determines when and if these good traits can be drawn out.

In Karate, sparring is only allowed when the Sensei (Master) feels the student has enough skill, but more importantly control of his skills. Karate students first learn to spar with no contact allowed, and gradually progress to light contact. Finally, full contact sparring is allowed, but only to specific body areas. This controlled sparring determines strengths and weaknesses of the opponent, but more importantly the strength and weakness of the self.

This is similar to the meaning behind crate training a dog. When a dog or puppy is new to your home they do not have much self control. Not just control of bodily functions, but control of curiosity. It is up to the human to provide a place where control can be discovered. When you crate a dog, you are providing a quiet place with few distractions. In Karate, when people spar, the rest of the class is required to sit quietly and watch. This provides a safe, distraction free environment for learning. It is in this quiet way that fear and trust issues between humans, or owner and dog, can be resolved. Yes, trust is involved in learning self control for humans as well as dogs. As a dog becomes better at controlling his curiosity he gains trust, and then he is allowed more freedom.

Karate is based on principals of universal laws. Universal means dogs fall under these laws. However, as the supposed more intelligent being, and our conscious understanding of those principals, we have the responsibility to uphold respect with our canine counterparts.

Kirsten Frisch has worked with sled dogs for over 8 years. She has handled dogs in Alaska for mid and long distance races such as the Copper Basin 300 and Yukon Quest 1000 mile race. Her background also includes Veterinary Technician, sled dog rescue and foster, artist, and traveller. You can learn more about Kirsten and sled dogs at

Kirsten Frisch - EzineArticles Expert Author

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