Dogs do it; people do it, get into a zoned out mode. For the past few days Luke has been zoned out; the lizards are taunting him. He is obsessive and is continually running in and out the dog door throughout the day. He would like to stay out and hunt the baby lizards that are all over my yard but it's hot, really too hot to stay out. So he is out, get's hot and comes in to cool off. Tilley use to get into a Frisbee zoned out state; even though she is a meek mild mannered girl show her a Frisbee and she transforms both state and mind.
To me being zoned out is a state of mind that is difficult to interrupt; needing a good slap in the face to bring you around. You know the movies you see when a someone who is hysterical and it is the slap in the face that brings them around? You don't want your dog in this state of mind; it is a dangerous state because there is a lack of ability to communicate with your dog when they are zoned out. If your dog has a trigger to becoming "zoned out;" you must be very diligent in your watching. You must watch for the first sign and stop it there. Once a dog is in full zoned out mode it can be nearly impossible to stop the behavior.
So how does "zoned out" and "in the zone" differ? To be in the zone is a good thing; you are focused on a goal and are heading that way. You can be in the zone with your dog; when you are a communication team, two working as one . This can be achieved through bonding, trust, leadership and reward. But you must be in sync with every nuance of your dogs behavior, ears, body, tail and vocal sounds. The other night I was eating dinner when I heard a high pitched yelp from the backyard. Luke had been zoned out on lizards throughout the day and was obsessing over one that had crawled under the umbrella stand. The yelp let me know he had gone too far and was becoming frantic; I calmly went out and escorted him in, closed the dog door and continued my dinner.
People who become entranced at a casino; mindlessly pulling the handle on the money machines, these people are zoned out. Someone who is out jogging may be in the zone; become obsessive and you are zoned out. I actually have several zoned out people at my gym; and like in dogs it is not a good thing. Some breeds tend to zone out more than others; border collies are one. Obsessively retrieving or herding can be a huge problem; keep it under control and you have a dog in the zone. Let it get away from you and your dog enters the zoned out zone.