Practice natural behaviours and not just your dog.
I‘ve learned a lot from other trainers, mentors and teachers. But no one has taught me more than the animals I train. I learn from every single dog I work with and still even now each dog teaches me something new.
We can also learn from children, both dogs and children live in the moment. They don’t think too much about embarrassment or judgements of others. So practicing natural behaviours is so normal and easy to them. As adults we get bogged down by stress, awareness of others, being accepted and judged.
At first when I had a baby, crying used to make me panic. Used to make me have a need to fix it and make it stop as soon as possible. But now I see it as a stress release, a need to relieve build up. It’s a natural behaviour and sometimes we could all do with a good cry. So now I just sit there, be with her and let her go through the emotions. Not alone but not interrupting it either.
In our dogs it’s so lovely to see play growls, digging, chewing, seeking behaviours and the odd bark. Things that feel natural to them. It’s the equivalent to a child playing, screaming with joy or kicking about in frustration.
So where we can, we need to practice our own natural behaviours. We may be adults but we still need to play. Maybe not in a literal sense for everyone but a sport, colouring activity, running with your dog like an idiot. Or be literal, I’ve been back on the swings and slide lately and it’s been invigorating!
The main thing is, don’t beat yourself up for crying, feelings of frustration, feelings of depression. These are natural behaviours that we need to express. Just understand they are your feelings, but they are not you. Let them come, be experienced. Welcome them with interest, ‘I feel sad today, and that’s okay’. Its so important not to try and make them go away, this way we become pent up and anxious.
As soon as I started to welcome my feelings, like watching a movie. ‘I feel nervous to teach this workshop.’ ‘I feel anxious on this boat trip,’ and that’s okay. Then the feelings started to take over less, it was no longer a battle of emotions. It was an acceptance of human nature and response to an interesting life.