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  • Sally Gutteridge

Are You Mindful Of Your Dog's Needs?



As friends and family, dogs have to put up with a lot from us as naturally we speak before we listen. We are a busy species always thinking of the next thing we need to do and we are mindless because we rarely sit back and just enjoy the moment. We often don’t give them time to adapt in their own minds to what we are asking of them. We are great at rushing dogs through the things we have to do with them, so we can tick those things off our list for the day.


Walk check, food check, enrichment check, that kind of thing.


We do it because society tells us that this is what our dogs need and with all best intentions we approach the care of our dogs seriously and from a place of love, yet if we live in a mindless state it can seem rushed and certainly it can feel like a stressor. When we are stressed our dogs feel it and the whole thing becomes counter-productive.

When our dogs are high energy and busy we assume that they need to do more, that they need an extra walk, or that we should do training with them. Sometimes dogs can appear like they have high energy because they don’t have enough quality rest, or because their diet needs more thought or their breed type would be more suited to a dierent activity. Most of the time we don’t need to do more, we just need to consider what we do, using the time we have with our dogs better. By becoming mindful with our dogs, spending time with them and focusing on the time and current moment we move onto a whole new level of understanding. We notice their requests, their happiness, sadness, when they want to be left alone, when they need to be acknowledged and most importantly when we are rushing them through their lives so that we can get their needs met as part of our day.

A good bond, or a good relationship, includes a number of things. All of them are mutual and none can be forced. We need to share a mutual respect, listen and show empathy, we also need to have the welfare of the other at the forefront of our minds but not to the detriment of our own wellbeing.

When we live with dogs we fall in love with them, and they with us. Yet their everyday life is often one-sided, even when we try our very best. We decide what they eat and when they eat. When they walk, where they walk, whether we do any learning with them and what kind of teaching we use. I suspect that we go against their will many times a day, even when we are not trying to. The way that we can assess this is to slow down and really consider it from the point of view of our dogs. The key to the bond with our dogs is to slow down and be in the moment, just us and them. When we practise this regularly we start to really recognise them and relax into the bond. Then we can assess where we are now and apply the basis of an excellent relationship to our lives together.


Take a look at my book Inspiring Resilience In Fearful And Reactive Dogs available on Amazon.

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