Wagasana, greeting the day
with gratefulness and curiosity!
Have you had a doga moment today?
Continue the journey being true to your self and your dog ...
Relationships: The only permanent relationship is with myself. All the others are benefits of living and learning with dogs and their people. The one person I am forever with is me, so I better enjoy my own company. If I live with a dog, I better teach my dog so we can enjoy each other’s company. How would I like to be taught when I learn something new?
Emotionally, relationships can drain you, including ones with our dogs. Create and enjoy relationships with boundaries. Some choose to not have relationships because it can be too painful to lose them. Others simply don't know how for lack of skill. Skills can be learned. Dogs are accepting and can help us venture into the world. Like magnets they attract like-minded people with their dogs.
Process and let go of old baggage, then do it again because it triggers will bring it back, just not as powerful. Bring your notions of one person or dog is the same to the dump. All individuals. Learn from past relationships and make the future ones better.
Releasing Habits (habitual behaviors/patterns): When we release old habits, they come back again and again, depending on how ingrained. When we train our dogs, especially adopted dogs, or dogs who have been left without any training, the new behaviors need time and repetition to be learned. It takes 100 to 1000 practices and repetitions to see new patterns happen automatically. Guess what folks? It does with us too. That’s true for us too! Keep trying, don't give up, not if you want to live life to the fullest.
We get use to a way of belonging and behaving, even when it is unhealthy or painful. Hearing someone (self) say "I can't live like this or I don't deserve to be abused" is a flashing yellow neon sign. Listen to it. Changing any behavior or situation takes truth, courage, exploration and stepping, even one toe, outside of the box. Taking three steps forward, two steps back always keeps us one step ahead! Ask for help ... it's out there.
Resentment (self righteousness): As children we express our anger and glee freely. As adults, we are taught to stuff it or to keep the peace. It manifests in ill-health and resentment. Holding onto bitterness paralyzes us. Forgiving or at least accepting that what has happened cannot be changed, frees us to move forward.
If we leave our dogs in the house for longer then they are capable of being left alone, we need to forgive and forget about the sofa they shredded. Look in the mirror. Crate or safe confinement training (desensitization) with a Kong, blanket, pet-sitter or daycare may help. Getting angry after the fact, holding onto grudges, will NOT, I repeat will NOT teach the pup/dog what to do next time. If someone hurts us, we have to re-set our boundaries, teaching them how to treat us. It our dogs aren’t doing what we want, we have to teach them what to do in way they understand.
Dogs, especially puppies, need guidance and boundaries too. It is self righteous to think that they (or anyone) should automatically KNOW what to do. Teaching people (or dogs) how to treat us is a better way.
Can't teach an individual how to treat you respectfully? Maybe it's time to stop the bus and let that individual off. Say bye-bye, adios, au revoir, ciao. If that person who you dropped off learns new ways of being with you and says "I'm sorry, I can try to change", then consider opening the door. It is your life and your choice.
Dog Talk Media - The Learning Zone.
Resilience: Studies have been done on twins separated at birth who grow up with different levels of resilience. One may become a drug addict, while the other is a successful business person. Each of us is born with resilience. It is a "bounce back" mechanism that kicks in when something bad happens. Developing resilience is a skill. If you fall off a bike, get back on. If you lose a job, find another calling. If your dog passes away after 14 years of devoted companionship, grieve and then decide what is best for you. If you house burns down, embrace what you do have - your life, loved ones, pets. Trust your instincts and intuition. We are born with survival skills. We can learn more.
Responsibility: One thing is certain about living – change and dying. Nothing remains the same forever. During the journey, we are not responsible or to blame for every single thing that happens to us or those we care about. The same power that creates experiences can also change them. Recently, I lost a beloved Greyhound after nine blissful years of companionship. It was a wrongful death. I was upset, angry and took responsibility for my feelings. I took her untimely death and created a positive learning experience for others. Not to be glossed over, people responsible should take responsibility for their actions too. Blaming and guilt were a waste of time. Reaching out to others to create change was a responsible thing to do. And, we did. Tia is wagging me to her every day with messages of love. She is a beacon for change, Prancing in the Sky. Taking responsibility and creating positive, educational awareness and change gives us purpose. What can do today to make a difference?
Sanctuary (Centered and Safe in my own place): We have a 2400 square foot training and wellness sanctuary for dogs and their humans. For awhile we thought about what to do because of bigger, better and one-stop-shopping. Today's busy multi-tasking families want to be able to do it ALL, in ONE PLACE. We thought we should expand, then took a pause and a breath. We are glad we did. The trend to have it all is being balanced by the need for simplicity. In corporations, managers are looking for a variety of people skills, but also those who can be creative, not just analytical. We can practice new languages on line and train our dogs on Zoom and You Tube. What is missing?
Could it be one-on-one contact, talking, feeling and processing? Working with our children and dogs is more enriching then sending them to a computer. Blended learning is a necessity in successful school systems, including post graduate levels. We do not all learn the same way. Some of us thrive on blending learning with visual, audio and doing. Create a refuge for yourself where you can escape every day even for 10-minutes. Imagine rowing off in a boat with your dog (or by yourself) to a quiet place. Breathing ... exhaling ... calming your mind and body, so you can return renewed to whatever version of the real world you choose. What is best way for you to learn? How about your dog?
Scan and Switch: In Awareness Centered Training, ACT training classes for potential therapy dogs, we teach the dog parent how to SCAN and SWITCH. This simple technique can be used everywhere, at any time and for us! Ever been in a store at work and spot someone you really do not want to talk to right now? What did you do - duck into closet, another room? Take a deep breath, look around and be aware of what’s happening to you and your dog especially on walks. We can’t control the environment. It’s powerful. We can empower ourselves and our dogs by scanning and knowing what might trigger behaviors like lunging or barking either from our dog or other dogs. SWITCH your dog behind you to the other side. It’s easy to teach. It is a required part of testing called “neutral dog” in Therapy Dog Team Evaluations. You place yourself in a better position to manage an unfamiliar situation. STOP & SIT: until you assess the situation. TURN-AROUND: Turning yourself and dog away from the reactive activity.
Self-Love: Self love is appreciating the miracle that is a gift of life. Each individual, each puppy is unique. Love and grief are two of the most powerful emotions. When one love ceases to be in the physical form, believing in a powerful spiritual energy is, for me, a reason to live on. Loving ourselves is not conceit. Conceit is a layer that we may or may not experience that says "I'm better than you are." If you are waiting for the right moment to choose self-love, the time is now. Look in the mirror and say “I love you just as you are.” Look at your dog and enthusiastically say, “I love you, we can learn together.”
Self-Talk (Dog Talk): The blah, blah, blahs of self talk can be positive or negative. It can drive us crazy and make us laugh at the same time. People express their emotions differently (externally and internally). Finding a balance so that internalizers don't become toxic and externalizers don't harm others can be daunting. Recognizing when it is tipping to one side or the other is a point of power where you can create changes of perception. Through-out the day, try to catch the thought you are thinking. Ask yourself, "Di I want to go that rabbit right now?” If not, let it flow, like a helium balloon into the sky. Bye-bye. Say STOP, the brain listens long enough to take control over your flowing thoughts.
Dogs communicate through body language and vocalizations. Their meet and greet rituals are different then ours (circling, sniffing, pyramiding, peeing). This is their calling card like our "hand-shake." We can learn from it. When we interfere in a safe, pure interaction dog-to-dog, we are taking our dog's freedom of navigation away to safely be in a dog pack. This is how they learn their signals and meet/greet savvy. When it's safe, allow them this dog pleasure, while you guide them.
Sit: We sit to eat, at meetings, to meditate, watch TV, listen to music, observe nature. Dogs sit to sit, to observe or because we want them too. Getting dogs to sit is easy. They learn to sit at 2-weeks old. Our quest is to teach how, when and with what cue. Using a treat, we can easily coax a dog into a savvy sit using their strongest sense, the nose. Waiting for them to sit and rewarding with a “good sit and treat” works equally as well. Either way, sit is akin to us being polite, saying please and thank you. How many things can your dog NOT DO when sitting (jumping, stealing, lunging, knocking things over, running off)? Dog Talk Media | The Learning Zone
Spirituality: The laws of energy are always operating. Spirituality is a personal preference. Mine comes in the form of a high powers, nature and dogs. What is yours? It can be a chance meeting while walking on a path, or it can hit me like a sledgehammer, when I feel exhausted. Something urges me, usually a dog, to try a different path or approach. When I listen, I hear. I have always felt like a late bloomer. When the time is right, and I am calm enough to listen and hear, the answers will appear. I can learn at my own pace.
Stay: Stay, be still, breathe. Stay Still! Sitting still for a moment, focusing on our breathing, allowing thoughts to flow can seem daunting, especially if you are multi-tasking. In truth, it helps to clear our minds - freeing up space so we can multi-task more effectively and efficiently! Sometimes, a resounding message pops up saying, “Does this have to be accomplished right now? Can it wait”?
Teaching our dogs Stay is as vital as looking before crossing the street. It can say a life. Along with sit and come, stay can save a dog’s life. Dogs can stay for 3-minutes in competition or wait for a few seconds while you open the door. They can wait and stay before carrying bags of groceries up or down stairs. Teach Stay with meaning and respect, beginning with small steps back and in. Using hand and/or voice signals, ask for Stay multiple times a day. A dog who stays, waiting patiently, learns self-control, and is a joy to live with, just like a person who listens until you finish your sentence ... Ah ...
Success: Very different in meaning for everyone. What is success to you? The Wiki says it is accomplishing or achieving our goals or tasks. It says nothing about how loft that has to be. I have all the ingredients to create a good meal (tablet, recipes, iPad). Then, I choose to improvise. Our approaches or meaning of success vary. For some enough is not enough. For others, planting a tree is plenty. Choose success with your dog - not from a training coach, me, a book or social media. Choose from exploring what will work best, credentials and attitudes of those you solicit for help if necessary and ponder what’s on Facebook with the ability to let it flow by. We are walking in our own moccasins and our dogs in their paws. All different. Some advice will help - others not so much. Successful dog training is what you and the dog needs at a given time (puppy hood, adolescence, adult hood).
Support (groups -- connections): All helpful if you need, and are ready, to commit to change. One size does not fit all. Some bode well with regular meetings / connections, while others prefer to take a more personal path. Knowing we are not alone helps, but it is different for everyone. Life offers opportunity for good health and support. It’s your choice when, how and where to seek it. Same with dog training or behavioral modification. Least invasive, minimally aversive (LIMA - APDT). Aim for what feels right for you and your dog. Listen to your gut, connect your heart strings to your brain stem. If it doesn’t feel right - chances are it is not for you and your dog.
Thoughts cognitive - created - changing - Are we what we think?: Our thoughts can be our best friends or worse nightmare. They weave in and out of our minds all day and into our dreams. Born a blank canvas, as adults we can choose to unlearn what was taught or conditioned and become who we believe we are. Easy? No. It can happen.
Like a blank canvas, we can learn to to choose our thoughts and reactions. Meditation, even for a few minutes, gives us a strong hold, like a fort. We sit, breath, let the thoughts flow, choosing what to focus on or not. If negative thoughts overpower the joyful ones, keep breathing and interrupt the pattern asking yourself, “I wonder what my next thought will be?” Rather then controlling things we have no control over, we can change our thoughts with this pause. Our brain can only focus on one challenge at a time. So when we start churning, ask a question that can help center us back to our breathing and the present moment. Gently give yourself permission to channel your thoughts in empowering ways.
Transition: Transitions can be positive or paralyzing. Either way, they are challenging. Whether human or dog, we deserve time to process transition (a move, death, new job, adopted dog, new baby). Take the time and give others the time to process. What we are feeling is okay. Meeting our feelings / thoughts face-to-face, accepting them, at least for awhile is normal. Responding to transition empowers, rather than deliberates us. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Stop, breathe ... know that in 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 months from now, things will be better. Right now, it’s okay to seek help too.
Truth: One of my favorite teachings comes from Byon Katie's The Work. I've been repeating these questions to myself for years. It works! We all have what we perceive to be the truth. In all aspects of living and learning with dogs, we can avoid the pitfalls of confusion when we ask 4 questions: 1. Is it true? 2. Can you absolutely know it's true? 3. How do you react when you believe this thought? 4. Who would you be without the thought?
Whether it is as simple as "my dog is mad at me, so ate my slippers" or more serious issues like "my father abused me, my mother didn't love me, I was mugged, my husband hit me, or my dog bit me", ask these questions and allow what happens to flow. What others do to themselves or to us does not define who we are or can be.
Often, we create stories for a variety of reasons. Remaining stuck in the muck can feel safe. When we change, everyone around us has to change and/or adapt. That may mean turning the status quo onto it's noggin. We are no longer the yes person, accepting all that is thrown our way (society, generationally, social media, aversive dog training techniques). We decide, instinctually and intuitively, and trust it, even if we make a mistake. Mistakes are how we learn to empower ourselves and become independent, free thinkers. Letting go knowing that it may happen again because we are creatures of habit, then trying again to do it differently is growth.
Trust: Usually we have all we need to survive. Anchoring our thoughts in our own truth and honoring our decisions, right or wrong, we can make our way safely through any storm. There is a saying in mindfulness: mind like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. Lakes become oceans. Waves flow in and out. Emptying your mind is not easy, but with practice, you can learn to let distractions float by with ease. When we quiet our minds, we hear our intuitions / messages. Listen to them because they are meaningful.
Energetic, frightened or vibrating dog? Calm the mind, calm yourself, teach the dog to calm themselves too. Channel energy into fun games, non-competitive sports, walking and controlling supervised play.
Meditations Q - T