On Dogs, Dog Training and Mindfulness
On Dogs, Training & Mindfulness
What do dogs, dog training and mindfulness meditation have to do with each other? As I found out for myself; everything! Having a background as a professional pet dog trainer I became aware of the importance of mindfulness meditation in my dog training skills. Including mindfulness practice in our daily routine is so beneficial. Here is one such benefit. Through the meditation practice I became more aware of the influence I had on my canine companions. Let me explain this more through a personal example.
My furry friend Coco, who I adopted in 2002, had an abusive background before she found her way to me. She was a very sensitive girl, and super smart. I noticed how she would immediately respond to my inner state of being. If I was joyful, she would be relaxed and happy too. If I was fearful, she would come to me and press her head against my chest to comfort me. If I was irritated, even without me saying a word, she would pick up on the energy and hide under the desk. I think many of us can relate to these experiences. It made me realize that the beings around us like our pets are more sensitive than we give them credit for. That we sometimes misunderstand and misinterpret the dogs’ behavior (same for all animals, it is just that my experience is mostly with dogs), and through this misunderstanding, treat them wrongly. For example, when a dog is behaving a certain way, it could be that the dog is responding to a subtle energy in our inner space instead of it being ‘their’ behavior!
Every day, even just in the passing by of people and their dogs, I see examples of how we are not aware of the dog’s world. We are ‘walking’ the dog while we are ushering them to hurry up and do their business so that we can get to work on time. We go running while listening to our ipod, dog tagging along, not even paying attention if the dog actually needs to rest, if his paws are ok or if she can keep up. Quite often we are so caught up in our own world that we unconsciously believe that whatever we do, the animals have to adjust to this. We don’t even think twice about what their needs might be.
For this reason, mindfulness meditation practice is very useful. We can meet the dogs on their terms and build a beautiful relationship. In my opinion, we owe it to them. We are the ones who decided we wanted to have them in our lives, so it is our responsibility to give them the best life we can. They give us so much, and don’t ask for anything in return. I truly believe that is the least we can do for them and for ourselves.
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or 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.” - Milan Kundera