Ever wondered why despite your best efforts and trying everything that has been suggested, it hasn’t really worked to change your dog’s behaviour?
I sure did. I spent years trying new things to help my dog be more calm, less anxious and less reactive.
Some of the solutions included various training techniques, protocols, specialised equipment or even holistic calming aids. But eventually after limited success, I decided to put all the ‘tools’ down and began to really listen. Listen to my dog and listen to my emotions. This is what I discovered: When we are focussed on the problem and struggling to find solutions, we are in a ‘fix it’ mindset. We want to see results and we get disappointed and frustrated when they don’t happen the way we expected.
Regardless of the solution we are trying - if it is being used with the intention of simply fixing our dog’s behaviour, then I think we have missed the point and will come away feeling less than satisfied with the outcome.
Why? Because, I think we are misguided in believing that changing our dog’s behaviour is as simple as following a protocol and using a set of tools. I’m sure most of you reading this will agree that our dogs are emotionally complex, intelligent, sentient beings. They deserve greater understanding and a deeper appreciation and respect for their individuality. There simply are no simple solutions or 'quick fixes'. An individual's behaviour is a form of self expression and a reflection of their emotional experience. It's also a form of communication. Their behaviour is not just a 'means to and end' or motivated / driven by instinct.
Our dog's behaviour tells us a story about their personality, and the colourful tapestry woven by their life's experiences. It gives us a glimpse into their inner world and tells us about their physical, mental and emotional state of wellbeing. If we really listen to what their behaviour is telling us, instead of simply trying to change it, we will discover the sensitive and beautiful being that lies within.
May I ask you... How would you feel if someone set out on a mission to change you and the way you express yourself? What if someone you loved saw you as flawed or broken and needed to be fixed? Wouldn’t you rather that someone supported you in a way that felt good for you? By helping you to develop your self-confidence and find your inner peace. I think our dogs deserve the same. They deserve our unconditional acceptance and support. Not a bunch of protocols to ‘fix’ them.
But, surely we can’t just ignore their anxious / reactive behaviour and hope for the best? No, I am not suggesting we just ignore it. I am suggesting that we switch gears from a ‘fix it’ mindset and come from a place of alignment instead. Alignment with what our dogs need and how we can best support them to become the best version of themselves.
Alignment is when our thoughts, intentions and actions all line up and come from a place of meeting our dogs where they are, and having their best intentions at heart.
How do we get into alignment in order to support our dogs instead of trying to fix them? Awareness is key.
It begins with awareness of who our dogs are as individuals and what makes them tick.
When we start trying all sorts of things to resolve behaviour issues, without first truly knowing and understanding our dogs as individuals, it’s like firing 100 misaimed arrows at an unknown target.
But, when we take time to step into dog’s paws, we recognise that as a species, their perspective of the world and their environment is very different to ours. Add to that, each dog is also a unique individual with their own set of genetic, epigenetic, physical, emotional, mental and experiential factors that make them who they are and how they respond to the environment around them.
If we wish to support them in a way that feels good for them, and nurtures their wellbeing, then we should first seek to understand their needs and how to meet them.
We need to find out what makes them feel safe, grounded and connected.
We need to provide choices that allow our dogs to develop their own self-awareness and encourage responsibility.
We need to provide experiences that allow them to explore their natural abilities and fulfil their innate desires in a safe way.
We need to provide opportunities and activities that build their trust and confidence.
A well balanced and fulfilled individual is more likely to feel grounded and content, and less likely to ‘act out’ in order to express their frustration, discomfort or as a way of releasing built up stress. Our Intentions should be Heart-Based Our intentions should be heart-based instead of intellect based. Heart-based intentions are aligned with making our dogs feel safe, understood, heard and accepted. Intellect based intentions are usually founded in fear and judgement. These are often mis-guided by what society dictates. By what others think and say; about what we are told is right and wrong, or what we as dog guardians ‘should’ do, and how our dogs ‘should’ act or behave. Does your dog really need more training and discipline, or do they just need more understanding, loving guidance and support? Heart-based intention allows us to connect and understand our dogs in an intimate way, and to be their voice and advocate. To make informed decisions based on their behalf.
Take Inspired Action
When we are in alignment with our dogs, we do what comes naturally and flows easily, instead of ‘working hard’ to find resolution. By dropping our idealistic expectations, fixed goals and timelines, we allow the process to unfold without resistance, in it’s own time.
By spending more time with our dogs doing the things that bring us both joy, the easier and more fun our journey together becomes.
Our dogs are with us for such a short time. Surely our time together would be better spent learning how to communicate, connect and inspire each other, instead of struggling with our own unresolved expectations and wishing things were different.
Alignment = Awareness & Acceptance + Heart Based Intention + Inspired Action
This is what I call ‘Aligned Dog Parenting’.
Supporting our dogs in a way that embraces their uniqueness, encourages their self-worth and self-governance, and allows them to blossom into responsible, balanced and cooperative individuals.
When both you and your dog are in alignment, this is when the real MAGIC happens!
Interested in learning more about 'Aligned Dog Parenting'? Join us in a fully coached and guided 10 Week Online programme: ‘Anxious to Aligned’. We will explore the concepts of Aligned Dog Parenting, and you will gain the knowledge, skills and tools to become an expert in your dog - allowing you to make aligned choices and take inspired action that will lead to a balanced and happy life with your dog. Get in touch for more info: email@example.com Passionately, Your coach