I had a dog, my first dog, he wasn’t planned for me, he was the dog my daughter had always wanted, he was an incredibly intelligent and sensitive Longhaired Weimaraner and as soon as he came home he decided I would be the one for him. For the first few months, I tried to take a back seat and let my daughter do what she needed to do but in the second half of his first year it had become clear and we had given up trying to persuade him to be my daughters’ dog and I began to take over his training.
Because we were new to dogs, and we had taken on a highly intelligent and active breed, and a male whom we also left entire, we bit off more than we could chew, well I say that but ultimately we did make it through his difficult times but we did wonder at one point if we would. I was often upset that my lack of knowledge was failing him and I sought the help of many a trainer, sadly the majority of trainers I originally sourced I wholly put my trust in but didn’t realise it is an unregulated industry and didn’t realise that many of the letters they love to show off after their name are simply memberships they pay for! I thought I was doing the right thing getting their help, by the time I had been through half a dozen trainers my boy was nearing his teens and things were worse than ever. They were worse not because of him, but because the relationship we had, despite the immense connection he had with me and the trust he originally placed in me had been devastated by trainers and their outdated methods and he had gone into total shutdown. By the time I found the few golden positive trainers amongst the sea of crap out there, he would barely look at me or engage with me during training sessions, his spirit was crushed and the guilt laid squarely at my door because I was his protector.
This was it, the moment that change would begin, we began to rebuild, from the ground up, I was so lucky he was so loving and willing that he was going to give me a second chance, a chance to get it right! I began to advocate for him, if we were on a training day and I didn’t believe what I was being asked to do was right for him I spoke up. I was shouted at on gundog training days by old school trainers because I was using treats, I carried on regardless. From here out I was going to start doing what was right for my dog and over the next few years, I began to learn a whole new and amazing world of positive training. Trick training helped us build not only new bonds but his confidence, we became not just a team but we had a connection I really don’t believe I will ever be blessed to feel again, he was everything, he knew me and I him.
It was during those years of rebuilding that I began to notice something. He had been bitten in the past several times through no fault of his own, by out of control local dogs and had become fear reactive, quite understandably. However, I began to notice the common theme in the dogs that ‘set him off’ and made him uncomfortable or caused him to react. If you looked at him as a dog trainer you would wonder why as there wasn’t a common thread in situations or body language or experiences or even of me and how I behaved during these encounters.
What I realised at this point changed our lives forever, it was their energy that he was reacting to!
This was that moment, the moment things changed and I surrendered to the understanding, the understanding that he knew more than me! That he had a lot to share with me and teach me if I were willing to listen, to be still with him and learn and that is what I did. Eventually, I could see what dog was approaching and read their energy and know if it was a dog who would affect him, it wasn’t about the body language or the size, a dog could look as happy and waggy as you like but if he wasn’t comfortable then you could bet your bottom dollar that before a session was done that little happy waggy dog would have gone for another dog there, but not Kodi because he had already told me that was a dog to avoid, we were safe out of their way, because I trusted my dog!
I am going to fast forward some years now, I lost my boy, broke my heart, he passed away on new years day 2019. At the time Kodi passed away we had a young pup we bred, she was born in August 2019 and the most driven puppy in our litter, we knew she was going to be a total handful as from weeks old she was making calculated choices and recall which is always simple with our pups was challenging from very early on, she acted out lots, had frenetic energy most of the time but then thankfully she also had a side that would see her crash for hours replenishing her batteries. On the flip side, she was super in tune with not just the world around her but with us, even more so than Kodi had been, she really is still quite the enigma if you don’t understand energy and don’t see how she works with it.
So here I am again, many years on realising that it’s about time I surrendered again and share this lesson with anyone who is willing to be open to it and listen and learn, Meditation, Mutts & Mindfulness isn’t just about a dog trainer or energy worker making a living, its a mission, a mission that no energy sensitive soul will suffer being so misunderstood that they just shut down and switch off the world, that we appreciate that dogs are first and foremost energetic beings and we need to recognise that and educate ourselves not just in training and body language but in energy and actively working with it.
If we wish to empower our dogs we must first become empowered ourselves