Lumping and Splitting – Learning from Dog Training

Heads up! This post is 12 years old. In 2021, I restarted my blog after many years of not writing regularly. See the the new stuff!

553624_21543580I just discovered these terms used in animal training. From the blog Eileen and Dogs:

Splitting is to look for and reinforce small steps in the right direction. Lumping is skipping the small increments and hoping that the whole perfect behavior will somehow still appear.

Eileen has a great video demonstration of this with her dog.

When I saw this it sparked a lot of thoughts. In teaching the dog the behavior, you are slowly building connections in their brain, step by step, until the path of behavior you want them to do is fully formed. Literally, you are wiring the neurons together through repetition. If you skip ahead, those connections just aren’t there yet, and the dog won’t know what to do.

This feels similar in flavor to Ground of Health in Matrix. You lay the groundwork for connection by going slowly and getting to know someone. Before that is done, the connection is like a fragile bridge that can’t hold much weight. The more positive interactions, dimensions, and depth you add to your connection, the stronger that bridge becomes. Eventually it can handle more intimacy and more intensity of emotional energy without breaking.

So we can draw from this analogy, “Don’t lump connection-forming”. Take your time and build the connection a little at a time.

The other interesting idea it raises is how we form neural connections when we meet someone. We have a mental map of them, and of the connection itself. As we add in more pieces to those maps, our sense of trust grows, which is what that bridge of connection is made of. Familiarity, and a history of safe interactions, equal trust. And both of these things take time for our brains to experience so they are wired in.

Like it? Love it? Donations are always appreciated. 💛
Hi there! I’m Emma and I write about self-liberation. My writing is meant to share my process & inspire your own. If you want more frequent/current writing, visit my Substack Sparkly Dark, where I’m unpacking my neurodivergence.

If my writing has helped you, you can leave a tip at, leave a comment below, learn more about me, or follow me on Instagram.

Also! I’m also looking to start a community of people looking to build authentic connnections & grow together.

Thanks so much for reading! ~Emma

Get a weekly email with new posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *