Dog Training from the Inside Out - The Holistic Way
Posted on June 16 2017
Hey pawsome furriends! My name is Monchi and I am a Holistic Chihuahua Blogger, sharing about my journey of transformation which started at eight years of age. I like to share about my paw-story in hopes of guiding fellow pups and their hoomans on their own journeys towards balance and happiness.
When I was a puppy, my hooman mom fell in love with me. Well, who wouldn’t right? :-)
However, she had never had a little dog before then, and caring for me was a very new experience for her. I remember vividly the day I was finally able to smell the grass and go to the dog park. I had all my recommended puppy shots and mom was very excited to take me to the park to play.
When I arrived I wanted to take my time to explore the dog park, but very soon dogs were approaching me excitedly to sniff my body, which is a very normal way for us dogs to communicate and get to know each other. But because my mom never experienced a dog park before, she started to become anxious about the experience. She started to see me as a little fragile dog that needed her protection. So every time a bigger dog would approach me in an excitable way, she’d rush toward me to pick me up and guard me from potential harm.
Soon enough this became a repeated pattern that created a fear-based negative reaction towards other dogs for both of us. Luckily (or unluckily for my mom), I was very smart and quickly realized that if I barked and lashed out at other dogs, Mom would reward me with her unconditional love and attention, holding me in her arms and giving me tons of kisses. And I definitely love attention, so by continuously reacting towards other dogs, I got what I ultimately wanted - pretty clever right?
Well, the truth is that after a while it wasn’t fun anymore. Something definitely needed to change!
For this to happen, Mom had to overcome a lot of her own fears first. She had to come face to face with painful memories of how a big dog jumped toward her and scratched her face when she was a little kid. She knew it was unintentional and this experience ultimately didn’t stop her from caring for and loving dogs. However, it became apparent that the fear that she must have felt back then was triggering fearful memories in our present. As a result, every time we started walking toward a dog park, her mind would immediately start thinking of the worst things that could happen to me in there. Unconsciously, her fears would play out in her mind and she was anxious about the potential for a dog to hurt me or come too close to me.
What she didn’t know back then is how powerful her thoughts were. This fearful thinking caused her immediate tension and anxiety, which in turn also made me feel tense and anxious. It became a very negative and vicious cycle that needed to end!
So, what did we do? Well, to start, Mom changed her story completely. By continuously repeating to herself how wonderful it is for me to play in harmony with other dogs and repeatedly visualizing me acting as the confident, happy dog she knew I was, her energy started to shift completely. Suddenly, she felt a lot calmer and more in control. It took time and patience for the changes to become visible but she knew that sooner or later it was going to happen.
A couple years later and I’m now able to go inside dog parks and just be a dog. Smell the grass, sniff some furriends’ butts and roll in stinky scents. Once in a while, when Mom is not focused on her positive thinking, I still bark at dogs that come too close to my face, but this too is okay, because I wish no harm and this behavior is just a leftover habit from my old state of functioning. This is no longer part of my story or my mom’s story.
The greatest thing is to feel trusted by Mom, and having plenty of furriends to play with and invite to my birthday pawtys. Also, I quickly discovered that instead of turning to my old behaviors for love and affection, if I sit down calmly where mom asks me to be, I get treats and all the love I could want. So I still get super spoiled but now I also feel more balanced and calm. And that, my furriends, is the secret to happiness.
Love & Paws,
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