"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."- Dr. Martin Luther Ling, Jr.
One learns best when having fun. This week I want to focus on the importance of play. People, dogs, any animal for that matter – we all learn best when we are having fun. Dogs are born to play – it takes very little time to make a dog happy. Dogs are hardwired to be out and about doing a job; not sleeping all day in our homes. Countless canine behavior problems arise due to lack of activity.
K9 Wellness Challenge Week #3: Nutrition
“Food is thy Medicine and Medicine is they Food.” – Hippocrates
“Whenever possible be kind…it is always possible” – Dalai Lama
I hope you have decided to accept my challenge! This week’s focus will be on BONDING.
I know it may sound like an obvious thing to do; however, it is something far too many dog guardians overlook. Yet, it is one of the secrets to having a super solid relationship with your dog. We adopt/acquire dogs so that we can have a companion, right? Bonding is something that is not necessarily hard to do as much as it requires time & patience. Bonding is what separates “owning” a dog to being a team! When you and your dog have a mutual relationship you understand him/her and visa versa. When you are mindful of how to bond with your dog, that awareness will aid you in cultivating trust with your dog. And when your dog truly knows that he/she can trust you completely and never have any fear of you, the rewards from that are limitless!
We all have busy lives, and as result dogs have unintentionally gotten the short end of the stick. Then factor in all of the devices that we use and it magnifies a dis-connect. Twenty five years ago I hardly had any client/ dogs with behavioral issues. Today, sadly most of my appointments address some form of anxiety, lack of social skills or circumvented disobedience. Now, I’m not inferring that if we take some time each day that our dogs will shed all of the behavioral issues and miraculously turn into Lassie; but what I am saying is that the fundamental cornerstone of any relationship is a connection. And embedded within this connection we MUST possess gentleness, kindness, playfulness and intelligence. We haves strong intimate ideological links with dogs that go back 10’s of thousands of years. Suzanne Clothier, renowned dog trainer has even coined a term for this: “Relationship Centered Training”! You will see over time that once you engage with your dog, see the world through his/her eyes, the “training” will all fall into place without much effort.
In order to bond with your dog, there must be an absence of any domineering ways and an abundance of kindness. We all have gentleness in us, we just need to take the time to offer it in a genuine fashion to our dogs.
Did you know that dogs release oxytocin – the chemical found in humans who are in love or bonding with family and loved ones? I’m sure you all are aware that interacting with any animal, particularly dogs, has been proven time and time again to lower people’s blood pressure! This is just one of the many reasons why it is so important for both of you to connect at a deeper level, understand your dog better and continue on a joyful journey together! I know you all have a good relationship with your dog and here are a few ways to make it a great relationship!
First, here is a question to ponder: Do your dog(s) pay attention to you and vice versa?
Regardless of the state of your relationship there is always room for improvement and strengthening your relationship with your dog. Here are a few simple things you can try tonight:
- Sit quietly with your dog. Gently, calmly and slowly pet your dog (And try turning your device off, it’ll be good for you too 😉 Create a safe haven for your dog.Meditate with your dog!
- Brush your dog. If they aren’t in to brushing, try using treats as a bridge to new and different things. You could even stuff a kong® with some small pieces of chicken and brush them for a minute or two while they chomp away.
- Treat your dog nicer. One of my favorite “truths” from the Dalai Llama is “Whenever possible be kind … it is always possible”. Look at your dog as your guide. They are patient, understanding and do not impose unrealistic expectations on you. I challenge you to offer your dog the same.Refrain from intimidation tactics – I promise they don’t work. Things like prong collars and choke chains will deteriorate your relationship not to mention do permanent damage to your dog’s throat, neck and spine!
Dogs are much more tuned into reading body language than humans. I always emphasize how they truly are masters at this.
Have a relaxing weekend with your family and your pooch and give the exercises below a try – and please feel free to share your experience with the Courteous Canine Community on Facebook!
THIS WEEK’S EXERCISE
OBJECTIVE: Get your dog to watch you for five seconds!
If you notice that your dog doesn’t pay attention to you then you are going to love this week’s exercise: watch me cues. Watch me cues will lay the foundation for the coming weeks and beyond. You want your dog to pay attention to you and have it become part of his default behavior. Lay this foundation with your dog and just about anything is possible!
This exercise MUST be worked on indoors and slowly. DON’T RUSH IT. Implement patience. Gradually increase the time up to 5 seconds. You will be working on this throughout the next 8 weeks of the challenge; your dog’s maximum time focusing on you without distractions by graduation should be 20 seconds or so.
Dogs learn in black and white. There are only “yes” or “no” options in a dog’s minds. They are not fans of maybe. They do not have the ability to connect events. For example, if you come home and find the garbage ripped open, rather than yell at your dog… simply clean up the mess. I implore you to not get upset at your dog – he’ll begin to associate punishment with your coming home and NOT the garbage! It’s a myth that dogs have a guilty look when you discover a “mess”. What you are seeing is a behavioral response that a dog has in anticipation to you becoming angry. I know if the tables were turned your dog wouldn’t get mad at you.
Take the time this week to sit quietly with your dog. Ask yourself this: how does your dog see the world and you? How do you think your dog would answer this question? I’d love to see your answers so please, share if you dare!
DID YOU KNOW?!
Your dog can read your facial expressions! Yes, they are one of a couple animals that have shown to do so! They know a happy face versus a mad one. Don’t stare at your dog with a menacing face – that will only elicit submissive behavior or provoke anger. Dogs are masters at reading human energy and intentions Keep a neutral and pleasant expression! Dogs LOVE smiles! So go ahead …make eye contact and show those pearly whites!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil, jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring it was peace.”
- Mulan Kundera
I hope this finds you all well and ready for the warm sunny weather! As we work our way into summer I am excited to share with you my Spring /Summer K9 Wellness Challenge !
I know many of you already have a good relationship with your dogs. My goal with Courteous Canines is to help everyone I can create an even stronger bond between you and your dog. You will be given a glimpse into a dog’s mind, body and spirit by learning more about behavior, nutrition and training. I’ll cover things like how does your dog think and the most effective ways to communicate to your dog, what your dog should be eating , despite what you think and hear and how to successfully teach your dog manners! I will be sharing current and cutting edge material with you that is proven & supported by leading experts in the fields of nutrition and behavior. Empirical proof is a valuable tool.
As a K9 Wellness Challenge participant you will join other dog guardians on the journey to know your dog better and gain a new perspective! These challenges are intended to plant a seed of health , elevate each dog guardian to a new level, be innocuous and by all means be FUN ! On the Courteous Canines Facebook page there will be the opportunity to share and participate in weekly mini challenges. I encourage everyone to start by introducing us to your furry friends! My intent is to leave you with awareness and key materials to continue on a healthy & happy path. As time goes on we all can share with each other and pass on what we have learned from our dogs. I know these challenges will ultimately help your dog thrive ! These challenges are intended to prompt you by
being more aware and becoming more disciplined
with your beloved dog. Build upon each challenge and be consistent with your efforts and creative in your approach.
I hope you will accept these challenges, implement them (and share them) and look back and feel good! While these may be mini challenges, my hope is for them to become more visceral and innate responses in your life as well as your dog’s! Let’s return the love to our dogs – give them what they need to live a happy, healthy & balanced life ! May everyone who accepts my challenge have an auspicious start!
Wishing you and your dog health & happiness,
P. S. If you know anyone that would like to be invited to participate and receive material please let me know, I’ll send them an invite and make sure they receive all material. Or please feel free to share all materials and links directly with them!
Chewing is an important part of your dog’s daily routine. Whether you have a young pup or older adopted dog, it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. If you don’t provide adequate chews for your dog, your dog will surely find something to chew on that you probably will not like. Worse yet, they can injure themselves. Poor quality and dangerous chews are unfortunately what many dogs are still getting. Stay away from rawhide, pig ears and Nyla bones. These chews are pretty boring, too. I could list dozens of reasons why they are not good. Sending your dog to the hospital is probably the best reason to stay away from them! Supervision and making smart choices is what it’s about. Never leave your dog with a chew unsupervised. Dog’s can choke very easily … I’ve seen it happen. Provide your dog with smart and healthy chews – RAW beef marrow bones, dry roasted natural tendons, Himalayan dog chews, stuffed frozen Kongs. The list goes on! Be creative especially with stuffing the Kongs. My dogs Sammy and Clover LOVE when I stuff theirs with yogurt & blueberries. Another favorite is cream cheese with salmon jerky! And remember, after a long chew, your dogs will need and want a nice fresh bowl of filtered water!
Have a tail wagging day!
Even thought the sky and ground may be filled with that wonderful fluffy white stuff and it is cold and wet outside, your dog still needs time to get out. They need to stretch their legs and exercise just as much as we do. make sure you take time for you dog on a snow day. Try playing hide and seek INSIDE with your dog. Help them out by making silly noises so they can find you easier. Then when they do … give them a prize – some yummy treats! Another fun game to help your dog avoid the winter blues is to make simple obstacle courses for them. Be sure that they are age appropriate and not scary for your dog. Maybe pile some pillows up in the hallway, ask your dog to “wait” and call him or her!