Living in the present not the past

One of the most important things I have learned from my experiences with animals is that they live in the moment. A dog does not hold grudges, dwell in the past, or get anxious about the future. The only thing that matters is NOW. In our society we tend to focus on everything but the now. We become saddened or depressed about what has happened in the past and constantly worry about what the future holds. This is even the case when we deal with our dogs.

How often have you heard someone say “My dog got attacked by a dog at the park so we no longer go there.” In this experience a past event has crippled the person from moving forward in the future. We hold on to a story that prevents us from healing and we create insecurities in our dogs. What we fail to realize is that dogs are forgiving and can be rehabilitated faster than humans. The other day I watched as a pit bull followed it’s prey instinct to attack a llama and within minutes was stopped, corrected and before my very eyes walking peacefully beside the animal, both unharmed and living in the present. The dog didn’t dwell on the fact that it wanted to eat the animal next to it. The llama didn’t run in terror because it was still afraid of the dog. Both animals did not get stuck on the past but moved forward. This was made possible because the human handling the dog and the llama (yes it was Cesar Millan) was able to let go of what had happened and not react but remain calm and in control. All three were living in the moment together in harmony.

TCW DAY 3-135

TCW DAY 3-140

If you have had an issue with your dog and are “stuck” please feel free to contact me for help on how to live in the moment.

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Walk this way

dog on leashHave you ever noticed that the sign for “dogs must be on leash” is an illustration showing a dog in front of the owner with tension on the leash? A woman I met at the Cesar Millan training workshop pointed this out to me and then handed me a stack of stickers with the illustration of a dog with a loose leash walking BEHIND the owner. Brilliant I thought! The idea is to change people’s perspective on how we walk dogs by placing a sticker over each sign you see. This novel idea will take a huge movement and mean a lot of reeducation for owners.

Every day I see people on walks with their dog pulling on a tight leash ahead. When walking like this the dog sees himself as pack leader and this is when problems arise. Not only that, a dog greeting another dog on a tight leash is when you see the most dog fights happen. It is unnatural for dogs to meet face to face, and when a leash has tension and the dog pulls, their body language suggests a challenge to the other dog which then leads to aggression.

How you and your dog walk together says a lot about your relationship.

Each morning while training at the Dog Psychology Center, we started with a pack walk. Cesar Millan’s first rule for a balanced dog is exercise, then discipline and then affection – and he stresses that it must be done in that order. While walking each day I learned that the walk is just as much for you as it is for your dog. It allows you to clear your mind, exert pent up energy and balance yourself and your dog. I have always loved walking with Carmen and she does so well on leash, but I have found a whole new appreciation for it. At the end of our walks it feels as if I spent an hour in a yoga class or getting a massage, I am that relaxed. If only we could all experience this. Unfortunately not all dog lovers enjoy walks the way I do, even more unfortunate, some people don’t walk their dogs everyday or even at all.

TCW DAY 1-118

I believe that how you and your dog walk together says a lot about your relationship. If your dog charges ahead, then you are not in control enough to be the leader. If your dog drags behind or refuses to walk, again your energy is off in order to lead the pack. If you think about it our dogs are here to show us how simple life can truly be in this regard. We are too hung up on rushing things, doing everything quickly, multitasking, and not enjoying the little gifts this world has to offer. Next time your on a walk take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and go slow. Make sure your dog is beside or behind you with no tension on the leash. You and your dog will enjoy the walk way more.

Your dog is your mirror

Dogs are incredibly intuitive beings and what many of us don’t realize is that our mood, temperament, demeanour, energy, whatever you want to call it, can have profound effects on them. If we are stressed after a long hard day at work, our dogs pick up on that. We don’t have to say a word for them to sense this. And when our emotions run high, that’s when we start to see behavioural problems. 

This is because our dog’s are our mirrors. If you have a hard time determining how you feel at a given point, take a look at your dog. He is a good indicator and will never lie. More importantly neither does our energy. Your dog may not know the context of why you are upset, but he will definitely feel the weight of the energy you are projecting even when you do not realize it yourself. This is because dogs are instinctual not rational or emotional. We as humans are intellectual and extremely emotional and we project this to our dogs. For this reason you must always be aware of how you are feeling at any given moment. To realize when your emotions are controlling you, and in that moment you are not in control of your dog. 

If you are open to it, your dog will truthfully show you who you really are. Ask yourself, are you a nervous or anxious person? Do you typically get frustrated? Do you ever feel lost or defeated? These are not the energies of a pack leader. A dog will not follow an unbalanced leader. Would you for that matter? Become aware and acknowledge the person you want to be. This is much easier than we think it is. One of my role model’s, Cesar Millan told me, “Life is easy, we make it complicated.” Notice your own energy and if it’s not the calm-asertive energy of a pack leader become aware and focus on changing that before you address any issues in your dog. 

So next time you are on a walk take a look at how you hold your dog’s leash. Is your hand clenched, with the leash wrapped around it 10 times. More often than not there is constant tension on the leash, whether we are aware of it or not. This is typically due to feelings of fear, nervousness, or anxiety. Many times without knowing we create reactions in our dog based on these emotions. Pay attention to how your dog is feeling and ask yourself, how do I feel in this moment. 

For more advice on how to project the energy of a pack leader please feel free to contact me at mydogphilosophy (at) gmail.com

Tips for travelling with your dog

Words cannot describe just how nervous I was flying with my dog for the first time yesterday. I did everything possible to ensure she would have a safe flight and it certainly paid off. I’m sure little Carmen just snoozed the whole 4.5 hours aboard the flight, while I anxiously shifted in my seat, counting the minutes until I got to see her again. Everyone at the airport was incredibly helpful and had nothing but compliments about Carmen as she waited quietly and patiently as we checked in. “Is she always this good when you travel?” they asked and were completely surprised to hear that this was her first time in 4 years since flying – when she first arrived in Canada.

I decided to share my traveling secrets to a successful flight with all of you so you too can have a stress free flight with your pooch. Here are my 5 tips for safe travel.

travellingtrio

1) Exhaust Your Dog

The absolute most important thing you MUST do is tire out your dog before you travel. Take time the day before to give them a really good romp. Using daycare is a great way to make sure they are active for a full day before they are cooped up in a crate for a long time. Make sure that the day you leave you also give your dog enough time to burn off some steam before shipping out. A dog with pent up energy will be stressed, destructive, and loud during travel if not given the opportunity to release some of that energy prior to boarding. You want your dog to rest while travelling to make for a more comfortable and relaxed journey for everyone.

2) Hello: My name is….

I came up with the idea of attaching stickers with important information about Carmen where attendants could see. Stickers with things like your dogs name, age, temperament and list of any allergies or health complications will be helpful to know should someone need to assist your dog. If never hurts to remind them to be careful with your precious cargo 😉

 

3) What to pack in the crate

Keep a few things in the crate with your dog: A bed or blanket that they are used to and not something new so that it smells like home and comforts them while they are away from you. An empty bowl in the crate so that if there is a hold up someone is able to give your dog water and or food. Dogs can get dehydrated especially if they are panting excessively so it is recommended by airlines to leave a bowl so someone can attend to the pet and prevent any medical emergencies. Also keep a short leash (folded or tied up so your dog doesn’t get tangled) in the crate. If it’s a long trip and the dog need be let out at some point having something available to leash the dog will prevent him from running away. I also recommend packing one in your carry on so you can quickly grab it to let  your dog out once he is back in your care.

4) Make the crate fun!

preflightPrior to going on your trip, get your dog used to being in his crate for long periods of time. Start with just a few minutes at a time and work up to overnight. Never force a dog into a crate or use it for punishment. The crate should be seen as a safe place; a nice comfortable spot for the dog to go and rest undisturbed. Once the dog is used to this without issue, try going for a drive with the dog in it’s crate to get it used to the vibrations and noises. Simulating what it may feel like to the dog to be aboard a plane, bus or train, but in a controlled and positive environment, sets them up for a more pleasant journey as it’s not too much of a shock. Having the owner present will keep the dog calm in these situations so that when a stranger goes to move the crate around the dog will be more relaxed.

5) Positive Reinforcement

Once you arrive at your destination, take your dog out for some fun! This reinforces the whole trip as a positive one. Rewarding your dog with play is the best way to keep their trust. They may have been under a bit of stress during their travel but once reunited with you and having a positive experience right after will keep them focused on the present and keep them happy.

 

I am so proud I am of my little Carmen and how well she did on this trip to California. I also want to thank everyone at Air Canada for taking such amazing care of her and making sure we got there safe and also for responding to my tweet before we left to reassure me. Janet, you helped this scared dog mom to relax and put my mind at ease that everything would be ok and I appreciate all you did for us. All in all, it was a great day and a fantastic start to our trip. Stayed tuned for more, the real fun starts tomorrow!

checkin

Never be complacent

I have a simple goal these days and that is to never be too comfortable in life. If we are complacent we loose sight of the things we want in life and stop growing as individuals. It is important to push ourselves. To achieve more than we ever thought possible. To work hard and grow a little every day. This is something I have learned from my dog. Every morning Carmen wakes up with her tail wagging, happy and ready to embrace any challenge that comes her way. I have embraced this very mentality in my own life thanks to her. I strive to never take a second for granted and I am so grateful to have learned this lesson at a young age.

Liz & Carmen June 1, 2010

Liz & Carmen June 1, 2010

When I was 24 years old I adopted (not rescued) a three legged dog from Mexico and this weekend marks our 4th year anniversary. June 1st of 2010, I met Carmen and my whole life changed for the better. I thought I was on the right track with going back to school for a second degree but realized quickly that I was unhappy and it wasn’t for me. Scared and a little unsure, I decided to follow my heart and made a very difficult but amazing decision. I dropped out of school, something I never thought I would do, moved to a new city and opened a dog daycare. This new challenge was fuelled by a passion for dogs and influenced by my very own Carmen. I had no idea how successful this endeavour would be, but I had a strong sense that deep down I was doing the right thing.

The Dog Haus June 2011

This crazy new experience taught me so much about myself and just how much I had to offer the world. It also reinforced the notion that when you really push yourself to do something great, two things happen, you become stronger and you influence others around you. By me opening a daycare I have motivated others to change their owns lives. Quitting school and doing something for myself made me and those around me, realize that we are in control of own destinies. If I am unhappy, I have the power to make change for the better.

Perfectly timed to help us celebrate our anniversary together, this week Carmen and I are taking a fantastic, once in a life-time opportunity to invest in ourselves by endeavouring to learn new things and strengthening our bond even further. We are fortunate enough to get to work with the best of the best in the dog biz, Cesar Millan. We will be travelling all the way to California to participate in a five day course at the Cesar Millan Dog Psychology Centre in Santa Clarita. This course, taught by Cesar Milan himself, focuses on the fundamentals of building a balanced relationship between dog and owner, addressing problem behaviours and achieving a calm submissive state. Carmen and I have never been so ready to take on this new challenge and begin the next chapter in our life together.

I would love for you all to join us on this adventure! I will be blogging about it here on http://www.mydogphilosophy.com as I go to keep you all in the loop of what we are learning and how things are going. Be sure to stay tuned!

I know I will learn so much more about dog behaviour on this journey but also more about myself and Carmen, and I can’t wait to share it with you all. I am excited to once again push myself to a new level and accept the new challenge in front of me. This an opportunity that not many get, so I will be sure to take full advantage just like Carmen has taught me. Thanks so much for following me so far and check back for new information from The Dog Psychology Center soon.