Are you struggling to form a strong heart-to-heart connection with your dog?
It could be a simple case of trying too hard or overthinking it. If we’re distracted, focused on other things, or too busy, this can affect the close partnership we all dream of having with our dogs.
Sometimes it pays to really step back and take some time to reflect on our perspective and how we role model for our dogs.
Below I share some of the simple things standing in our way of a real heart-to-heart connection and a peaceful partnership.
- You’re not present
The main thing standing in our way is that many of us struggle to be present in the moment.
With so many things stuck in our heads, responsibilities, wants and needs, other people and even other pets, it’s a wonder we have any headspace left.
If you aren’t in the present and your mind has a tendency to wander, this could affect your relationship with your dog. The reality is, if we’re thinking of other things, we’re not connected with our dog. We’re stuck in our heads.
- We are so afraid of making a mistake
The next thing standing in our way is the fear of making a mistake.
We’re only human, and of course, we want to be the best, most amazing partner for our dogs. Our motivation and inspiration are on track, but could this fear have a downside?
If we’re afraid of making a mistake or getting it wrong, it means that we’re literally building a wall between our dog and us. We’re also teaching our dogs things that we don’t want them to mirror, which is to be tense and worried.
What we need to do is lighten up. You may have heard me mention something called the “trilogy of lights,” which is to be more light-headed and light-hearted and light-footed.
Try not to take yourself or your dog too seriously. Be willing to be an adventurer and enjoy the journey with your dog.
- We are in the habit of always being busy
If you’re stuck in old habits that stop you from forming a heart-to-heart connection, nothing is going to change.
One of the most common habits to get stuck into is the habit of being busy. The problem is that if we’re busy people, many of us believe that our dogs need to be kept busy as well.
Instead of letting our dogs help us get off the hamster wheel of busyness, we pull them onto the hamster wheel with us. Many of us are stuck in a cycle of being busy, and we don’t even know that we’re on the hamster wheel.
Oftentimes, our dogs are campaigning for some kind of action. So, we tend to think “they need more exercise” or “they need a distraction.” If we give them a distraction, perhaps they’ll stop bugging us or barking.
However, in many cases, this is just a habit. It’s not that the dog actually needs more exercise or enrichment or play. It’s just that they’re in the habit of being busy.
If we respond to that by making them busy, they’re going to expect that every time. It just escalates, and we become unwitting partners on this crazy hamster wheel.
How to connect with our dogs
What we can do is begin to recognize what’s happening with our dogs and how our own behavior is affecting them. This awareness is key to bringing about positive change.
When we start to change things, it’s important not to get sucked back into that busyness and responding to old habits.
Instead, try to stay present and breathe through it. Try to tell yourself, “I’m committed to not being sucked back into old habits.”
Lean into the discomfort a bit more and just breathe. Smile and open your heart. Connect with your dog with an open heart and mind and remember that’s what our dogs need the most from us.
My dog needs to feel like they belong. My dog needs to be heard. They need that bonding. Remember, this bonding is one of the main reasons you likely got a dog in the first place. Don’t lose sight of that!
How a BPA member learned to form a heart-to-heart connection
This brings me to an example I’d like to highlight from the Brilliant Partners Academy. We had a gal with a leg injury who couldn’t walk about and play around with her dog.
I wanted to share a comment that she made after a coaching call:
“One of the things for me was not to add to my dog’s over-arousal. Distracting with toys and treats and games doesn’t work. And I found this to be true when I was forced to be off my feet for two months. I thought I had to keep her busy with something since I couldn’t join in with our usual activities outside for very long.
“I thought that she would be bored and start with unwanted behaviors or habits. But what do I know? Apparently, nothing because her favorite activity while I was recuperating was to be a couch potato. I guess I was role modeling pretty well.
“Honestly, it became a wonderful learning and bonding experience. And now that I know that I don’t need to keep her busy to distract her from some trigger or distraction or drama, and can just patiently breathe through as I role model “safe, calm and happy.”
Isn’t that wonderful?
I heard similar things with some of the other BPA members when they decided to take a step back and become more mindful and attentive.
In these examples, those heart connections blossomed. Dogs started responding. Humans started loving the changes and how they affected so many other things.
That’s what I want for you, my friends. Try to really open your heart to your dog. Build a heart and mind connection with yourself so you can step away from these old habits.
If you’d like to work with me and learn how to create a partnership lifestyle for you and your dog, you can request an invitation to join us in the Brilliant Partners Academy when the doors open for the next enrollment!
You can listen to everything I talked about in this blog post over on my podcast – Enlightened By Dogs. It’s episode 166, which you can listen to here.