That's when it hit me that bringing breathing into dog training had always been very natural for me, but maybe it was the missing link for others. Maybe you have a problem dog, or can't seem to jive with a new pup. I get these queries all the time, they've tried "everything", and it's just not happening. So I began asking what happens when you breathe? Well, let me tell you, that weirds people out. It needs more explanation than just a curious mind pondering if breath can make a difference. So let me try to explain through a series of those curious questions.
Take yourself to that moment, you know which one. Your dog is being a fool on the end of the leash. Maybe it's barking wildly at another animal, or just off in its own play world and not listening to a word you say. Now go inward. What's it feel like there? Are your arms tense, shoulders taking all the stress? Hands gripping the leash? Is your chest tight and looking for relief? Are you holding your breath? Maybe wasting that breath instead on repeated commands or trying to convince Fluffy to please, please just listen. I've been there, in fact I've been SO there that I've stormed off in a huff, often just dragging the dog away from the situation. That certainly didn't help.
Once I started bringing my yoga practice to the field, everything changed. I connected to animals. All of them, not just the dogs I am working. Now I find myself trying to bring my field practice to the mat when my mind begins to wander. I tell myself, just breathe.
So next time you find yourself struggling, with your dog or your life, try asking yourself those questions. Are you tense? How does that chest feel? Ok, deep breath. And again. Just breathe until you can tell yourself you've got this. Because you do. All that you have inside you, is enough.