5 Daily Doga Inspirations for you and your dog - Enrage, Engage and Disengage

         Maureen Ross, MA

Have you ever been walking through a door at the supermarket and someone launches by, nearly knocking you over? What did you do, think, and feel?

Have you ever been walking your dog and some “!ing!“ person bolts up with their barking dog on a floating leash, “Hi, my dog wants to meet yours”. Really?

Happens to all of us, and, must admit, we do obnoxious things too. Doesn’t make us feel any better when it happens, or when we do it. There are different ways of dealing with chaos and blissful ignorance, ours and others, when it confronts us. I like to soothe my ruffled feathers by looking at this as an opportunity to try out new techniques, hopefully without offending or getting punched out.

Being practical and honest with ourselves, we need to admit, “not knowing” what the other person’s story is, because we truly do not. When we get emotional (enraged), it can blur our objectivity. I am NOT SUGGESTING that if someone rams a grocery cart into your ankles that you should turn around, grab the cart and ram them back or ignore them. What we can do when that cart rams us or that person allows her dog to dodge into the face of ours is take a deep breath.

Then, we have choices to stay enraged, engage or disengage. Example: If the person who rams you says, “I’m sorry, and you notice it was the same person who nearly launched you into the mailbox at the door, embrace the “I’m sorry.” This person may be in the middle of who knows what. If they don’t say anything, you might try turning around and calmly saying, “Wow, I hope that didn’t knock my stitches out.” Or, disengage completely - and continue on not giving them the benefit of confrontation. Disengaging can be empowering. Will they learn anything? Who knows? But, anyone this rushed isn’t going to learn anything in that moment anyway - so why waste your precious energy.

I share this often with students, it is perfectly fine to confront people, but in a non-conflicting way. Breathing first gives you the proactive option of scanning the situation. What will your next move be – a strike back, a lesson, or why waste my energy with this numbskull?

Take the person with the floating leash and barking dog. I hear this 100 times a year from training clients. Newsflash, we cannot control the environment, but we can make choices to make time with our dogs easier. How about picking a different walking route, dog park or time of day? I know, why don’t THEY pick a different route – jerks. Again, we can’t control the environment. Stuff happens, so it’s best to prepare ourselves and our dogs with socialization and manners (SAM) and clarify what we expect, whether the other person / dog wants to listen or not.

While keeping an eye on your dog, confront without being conflictual by clarifying. Redirect your dog to a sit facing the other way. Say something like, “Please don’t rush at us that way because it stresses me and my dog out. Can you have your dog sit first?” If they can’t, then say, “Okay, here is a card of a good trainer. Thanks!” Walk away calmly. Or, simply turn around and walk away (disengage). Not my circus, not my monkeys!  

Walking our dogs should be a joy not a test of our sanity. Many dogs end up relegated to back yards and no walks because of incidents like these. Observe – be AWARE, notice what’s going on around yo and your dog. Many dogs do not want to interact – and that’s okay. Many people don’t want to either. Check in before ramming the cart into ankles (market metaphor).  

When we are a little more pragmatic and less emotional, our focus becomes keen. We are less swayed by distractions or people’s foibles. Taking a walk with our dogs or going to the grocery store is going to bring THINGS into our path. Like road rage, we have choices to enrage back, engage, or proactively disengage. We don’t have to let anyone’s “story” become our own.  

Enjoy the Journey … breathing in ... nose-to-navel, ah-ha!    

© Daily Doga Inspirations to Share, Maureen Ross, MA  

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