Tool #3 helps you to Master
the Holistic Mind-Body Connection
How our dogs FEEL has a strong inﬂuence on how they learn, behave and perform. Some might say that is the only thing that really matters. I tend to agree.
We now understand how profoundly each part of a dog (or person) is interwoven into a whole. Your dog’s physical, mental and emotional parts all need to be in balance for optimal learning, well…for optimal living, really.
Let’s Get Physical!
Keep your dog at their ideal weight and be sure they are ﬁt and conditioned to the level required.
Keeping your dog in excellent physical condition is important for many reasons. If your dog is ill, overweight, underweight, out of shape or not conditioned to the level of athleticism required for your activity…then training is deﬁnitely going to suffer. At the very least, your dog will not have enough focus or energy to learn…and at the worst, serious injury from physical exertion beyond conditioning can result. In the middle is short attention span, mistakes, sore muscles and shortened work time.
Keep your dog at their ideal weight and be sure they are ﬁt and conditioned to the level required. Learn to ﬁnely assess your dog’s weight, condition, gait, movement and stamina…and make adjustments as needed.
A Dog in Optimal Physical Condition:
• Has energy to focus and learn
• Is less likely to be injured from physical exertion
• Has a longer attention span
• Makes fewer mistakes
• Can work longer
feed as close to a natural diet as possible, allow your dog to have plenty of access to fresh air, sunshine, clean pure water and exercise.
The philosophy of a holistic, natural lifestyle for your dog is simple: feed as close to a natural diet as possible, allow your dog to have plenty of access to fresh air, sunshine, clean pure water and exercise. This is the ideal for promoting overall good health and a strong immune system. Feed a wholesome and natural raw diet appropriate for dogs. Processed food that has no life, no biological activity, is not ideal for anyone. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s quicker, sometimes it’s cheaper…but, just like eating only “fast food” is not optimal for people, eating out of a bag or can is not ideal for our dogs.
I recommend feeding a dog-appropriate raw food diet optimized for your dog’s age and energy needs.
Dogs Have Feelings Too
How your dog feels physically is important…and how they feel emotionally plays an equally crucial role. Dogs get stressed, worried, anxious, fearful, confused, overstimulated.
Their emotions, just like ours, effect their behavior and their ability to learn and even to think.
Modern science has shown how emotions are actually the driving force of each person and animal. In her book “Molecules of Emotion”, author and neuroscientist Candice Pert demonstrates that emotions are inseparable from physiology, and emotions are the link between the mind and the body. Dr. Pert talks about how emotions regulate every system in our bodies.
Your Dog’s Emotions effect:
• Physiology – how your dog feels physically
• Behavior – how your dog responds to their environment
• Training and Performance – how your dog learns and thinks
How to Balance Your Dogs emotions
So what can you do to help balance your dog’s emotions? We have tools for that too! There are several tools that I have used for the past 20 years that effectively help our dogs ‘feel’ balanced…and help them to live happier, think more clearly, and learn more efﬁciently.
These are my favorites:
As a certiﬁed TTouch Practitioner, I have found this to be one of the simplest and most effective ways of helping dogs focus, learn, release fears and anxieties, relax and heal from injuries. The combination of hands-on body work…exercises designed to help dogs think and focus…and the philosophy of allowing dogs to interactively engage in the learning process, is why I use TTouch often in my training and behavior rehab work with dogs.
From teaching an exuberant dog to walk on a leash, to bringing conﬁdence to a fearful dog, to helping a lunging, barking, reactive dog learn a new way to behave, to helping a performance or working dog move in balance and with ease…TTouch is near the top of my toolbox.
Body aids that use gentle, constant pressure can effectively calm dogs, aiding anxiety, fearfulness, overstimulation, inappropriate barking and more. There are commercial products like the Thundershirt and the Anxiety Wrap, but I often use simple elastic bandages or tshirts to help these types of dogs. The work of experts such as Dr Temple Grandin, and Linda Tellington-Jones have shown the use of body wraps to have a calming effect of the nervous system of animals and people. I often use a body wrap for ordinary dog training, for behavior rehabilitation, and even for sheep herding!
Flower Essences and Aromatherapy
Dr. Edward Bach is the pioneer in developing ﬂower essence healing and his research led him to conclude that positive, healthy states of mind could be restored by the energies found in ﬂowering plants, trees, bushes and special waters. Flower essences are a natural method of promoting wellbeing by gently restoring the balance between the emotions, the mind and the body. Most people have heard of “Rescue Remedy”, which is used when there is a traumatic event, such as an accident.
Ancient Egyptians are thought to be the ﬁrst to discover the therapeutic potential of essential oils. Oils were created as fragrances, for ritualistic and ceremonial use in temples, for healing the sick. When pure essential oils are applied topically, taken orally, or micro-diffused they beneﬁt the physical body by providing anti-fungal, antibiotic and analgesic beneﬁts.
When essential oils are diffused and inhaled, aromatherapy beneﬁts mental and emotional states. The oils can stimulate the limbic system of the brain, which is the emotional center. They can calm, stimulate and balance.
I often use ﬂower essences or essential oils to help dogs with sound sensitivity, thunderstorm phobia, and fear of ﬁreworks.
The essences can help balance emotions, calm nervousness and fears, bring harmony to a multi-animal household, increase conﬁdence and help dogs and their handlers perform well at competitions.
Are you Listening? Intuitive dialog can really help.
Listening means having an awareness and an openness to learn something new about another being. Listening heart-to-heart, with the intent to learn your dogs perspective, is an approach to a truly different type of conversation. Effective communication depends upon a fluid, two-way flow of information. Staying focused, and in the moment, is key to really listening.
To ask “What can I learn from you?” opens the door to a whole new world. Simply being open to the possibility that your animals might have something to teach you will forever shift your perspective of life. Offering this respect to another being automatically causes them to respond in turn with mutual respect, and helps to clear up the static in the lines of communication.
Mental and Emotional Conditioning for You
To be a successful and effective trainer, handler and competitor, you need a method for staying calm, balanced, focused and alert. Developing an awareness of your own physical, mental and emotional states is vital for you to be the best you can be for your dog. It’s so easy to get impatient, frustrated, worried or nervous as we train and compete with our dogs.
To become a master in your chosen dog sport, activity and even in ordinary life with your dog, you need a plan for mental conditioning…and a plan for developing your skills as a trainer and competitor. Think of it like building muscle, stamina and conditioning…you have to work at it progressively and consistently to get the results you want.
The effort always pays off with a happier dog, a better partnership, and greater success in all that you do with your dog.