For the past couple years it feels like I have become a black belt in cramming as many things in a day as possible. However, for the past couple months it has been a refreshing feeling to go at a much slower pace and not race to the next home and fight traffic day to day.
I was able to spend time with my own personal dogs, go on walks at empty shopping centers and even get some extra snuggle time in. For the first time since moving to the Queen City almost 11 years ago I have felt some sort of balance.
As we are starting to get back to some sort of a normal routine we will undoubtedly be racing back to explore all of what Charlotte has to offer. We will be starting new habits as well as re-introducing old ones. This does not just go for you, but your dog(s) as well.
Like most of us, our dogs have been enjoying all the extra activities and Q/T we have had with them. However, some us will be getting back to the day to day grind leaving our dogs taking more of a back seat role.
In an effort to keep growing in my relationship with my dogs and maintain that balance I took the time to jot down a couple notes that I have been applying as of late. So here are 5 ways to optimize your day with your dog to get the most out of your day together and try and keep the balance and connection with them while we integrate a little more hustle back in our life.
5 Ways To Optimize Your Day With Your Dog:
1. Fill your cup first: This is an important principal in general but it really hit home personally when we took on 4 puppies all around the same time. I am a slow starter in the morning, so I prefer to not engage with anything or any animal until I am running on a full battery. Space is super important with any relationship including your dogs. Dogs need space just as much as humans do so they can recharge. Connecting to yourself first is pivotal. I need to take about an hour in the morning doing daily practices so that I can be fully charged. This may look different for you, but remember energy is a limited resource that needs to be replenished. Doing a couple daily habits helps me to be more patient, think quicker and make better decisions around my food choices which then provides me more energy for my dogs and others. Take whatever time you need to fill your cup first. When you learn how to change your energy level you can learn how to change the life around you.
2. Get outside quick: There is no denying the effects that nature has on our minds as well as for our dogs. Get outside and go for a walk. Allow your dog to run, sniff, and explore. There has been an incredible amount of science done on the positive affects of vitamin D, so get out there. Even if it is a little gloomy get outside with your dog, not just let your dog out but actually be with your dog and take it all in together.
3. Do not negotiate with your dog: Resistance comes from negotiation. When we rationalize, or justify and make things negotiable with our dog it is not a fun place to be. Trust the training that you have put in. Remember our dogs are master manipulators that will always lean into the path of the least resistance. They are also always learning from their surroundings whether we are training new behaviors or not. They learn from experiences so when we get into a mental debate with them and avoid using our tools we are then reinforcing that resistance whether that’s breaking a place command, not coming in from the backyard, getting off of the couch or even forging ahead on a walk. A good rule of thumb is never ask for a behavior if you are not willing or in a position to follow through with it.
4. Vary basic obedience commands: This is a fun one. Try and vary up your commands. You can do this by using basic obedience commands and change up your body postures or angles you are asking your dog to perform said behaviors. For example sending to a place walking in opposite direction without help, asking your dog sit/down without coming all the way to you or even get crazy and sit in a chair and call into a heel position. You can have a lot of fun working with this and get creative with the different ways/viewpoints for your dog that you can ask for the same behavior.
5. Go for reps, not length of time:
Whenever you are learning something new you want to think in terms of good reps. You can work with your dog for 30 minutes but if your dog is mentally checked out just going through the motions then your reinforcing crappy training which can lead to frustration from both parties. Set an intention and think in terms of cooperation between you and your dog. Pick one or two things you want to achieve and get 3-6 good reps of progress and end on a high note. This does not mean that everything needs to go perfect but you want to get a hand full of good reps and leave your dog wanting a little bit more.
There is obviously a lot of uncertainty in the world today. However, the one thing I am sure of is the connection and value that dogs can add to our lives when we put the time into them that is required. This will look different for every home but we can all agree that its something special when you see your dog truly balanced and living their best life optimally.
– Phill Kensington (@keendog.phillip)