A Self-help for dog-owners, How you can try this at home with your dog
If you want to explore these ideas at home I thought it would be useful to write a 'self-help for dog-owners'. I have put these steps together as a practical guide as to how you can use your emotional connection with your dog to get more understanding of yourself.
- Firstly, get into the habit of observing
- Get into the habit of noticing your dog. You probably already do lots of this.
- Get into the habit of noticing yourself when observing the dog. This might not be so common(if you're anything like me). What are you are doing, thinking and feeling?
- The times when your dog does something that you don’t want it to do, try and notice how you feel in the moment. Obviously you will need to intervene if there is something that is going to happen that is dangerous to the dog, yourself or another, but when you can, try and get into the habit of noticing how you feel. At first, if it’s something that makes you feel really bad, you may try to push the feeling away with thoughts like “I must do more training”, “ he’s a difficult dog”, “it’s because she got scared by that car”. Those stories might all be true, but that’s avoiding the emotions that are going on for you. And that’s a normal reaction. Try and resist the temptation to avoid your feelings and emotions.
- See if you can feel any physical sensations, like butterflies in your stomach, lump in your throat, heat in your body. Just notice how your body feels. Again, this might not come naturally at first.
- Start to notice what thoughts come up…ideas, memories, whatever. Don’t judge, just notice them.
- Record what happened, what the dog did, how you felt, what things you noticed about yourself, what thoughts you had. Writing them down helps you acknowledge them and helps with processing what the experience meant for you. Following this process you can start to learn things about yourself. You will also learn about your dog.
Let me know how you get on. I would love to hear about your experiences