Train you mind, and your dog's.
Mental Health is just as important as physical health.
Most of us know this on a human level. We need to take just as good care of the mind as we do the body. For myself, I spent a few years focusing on my mental health OVER my physical health. Now it's time to focus on both again 😳🤣 We even compensate for the partners and spouses in our lives. We help them when they can't help themselves. We understand that often times inappropriate human behaviour is often a result of a lack of something or too much of something. Not enough mental or physical exercise, too much stimulation in our direct environment, poor nutrition, addictive behaviours, unaddressed post traumatic stress. And there's times when we need to step up for our human. Take their behaviours and help them find a way to manage them. Be the 80% when they can only muster 20%. Love them, but also help them set boundaries. Eventually, with enough respect, love and patience...you can help them find balance.
Some times the behaviours are too much for people. They can't or won't, be able to help another. It takes a special relationship to truly help a person overcome trauma, or correct a habitual behaviour. Rarely can we overcome these things without help. For myself, I had many people come and go during my mental health journey to balance. I had a lot of heavy past trauma to deal with. The load was great, and I put too much of that load on certain people. It pushed them away and eventually I came to rely on my service dog and a few select humans. I understood dogs and they understood me. Eventually I found a sort of peace. It was through support, love and hard work that I learned to control my reactions and find calm. I never thought I'd be the person who does yoga every day and utilizes canine and equine assisted therapy. Yet here I am, rocking it.
So whether the journey to peace is a mental, physical or spiritual journey (if we're being honest they tend to be two or all three in the end), we can all typically relate on some level. We need one another to survive and we need a new routine.
The same is true for our canine partners.
Mental stimulation is just as important as physical. Poor nutrition and under utilized working breeds are often a huge part of the problem when it comes to our dogs behaviours. Many times they are also dealing with too much stimulation in their direct environment and not enough mental and physical stimulation. The result can be the same as us: poor behaviours and over the top reactions. These can manifest as: digging, excessive barking, destructive chewing, separation anxiety, aggression or the inability to remain calm around other dogs, people, animals or vehicles.
Dogs also need our love, support and patience to overcome these things. We need to understand where their reactions are stemming from, and help them on a journey to balance.
What is your dog missing in their life? Do they need more exercise? More training? Less sitting around?
I can confidently mention that it is my belief that apart from trauma, most dog's behaviours are human created. We get a German shepherd and lock them in a small yard. We have kids and our dogs become a very small priority. We start our border collie in agility and never fallow through. We ignore it when our dog barks at a stranger, then panic when months later it turns into a nip. Then a bite. We leave it until it's gone too far. We're willing to put in the effort to help find personal balance, but get overwhelmed and defeated when it comes to managing our dogs
mental and physical health.
So when seeking balance with canines, we need to begin to give them what we would give our spouse. 100% when they can't muster anything but to fall apart. The dedication to get to the root of the problem. And a new routine.
Just as we need one another, our dogs need us. And we need each other. If you don't know where to start, reach out. There's so many willing and talented trainers in this area. Find one that suits your style. Put in the work. Make your dog a priority. Be their support. Start a routine. Find balance.