Updated: Jul 17, 2020
No question, these are challenging times. However, it's the perfect time to share your life with a dog. The main part of a dog's mission is to bring unconditional love as expressed through JOY -- the joy of playing, sleeping, eating, snuggling, working with us, comforting, protecting, guiding... The list of ways to LIVE in the present, enJOYing life is endless. So, this is a great time to let your dog show you the way to joy.
Instead of listening to the news or TV, listen to music with your dog. As you listen, tune into how your dog responds. What does she do when your energy and nervous system relaxes? Does she want to cuddle, or just rest near by? If she relaxes and starts to nap, watch her breath. See how her breath rises and falls in her body. Practice deep, relaxed breathing with her.
If she's restless and wants attention, is that because she hasn't been getting enough of you? Is she hungry, needing a walk or just some tummy rubs. Observe how she responds. Feel into the joy of the rub.
One of the great gifts our dogs give us is the joy of play. How often do you play with your dog, let him define the game, just surrender and enjoy?
Get outside and play or let your dog lead the walk just for fun. Too often we're in a hurry, talking on the phone, more interested in getting him out to "do his business" instead of making time to let him sniff, explore and enjoy the outdoors. If you allow your dog to lead the walk, (leave the cell phone at home) you'll see things differently, get out of your head, and feel into how he experiences the world.
Time of day makes a difference. Dawn and dusk are not good times because there are more mosquitoes for you both to deal with, plus motorists may have trouble seeing you. The heat of the day isn't good either. Pavements and sidewalks can get very hot. Dogs can overheat. Plan to walk at times that allow you both the best experience.
Playing in the water is so much fun! Avoid ponds and standing water that may have deadly algae. Stick with small streams, the ocean and even pools with a nice ramp. A Golden Retriever who just celebrated her 22nd birthday LOVES diving into the pool to fetch her ball. Swimming with your dog can be fun, but I recommend a life jacket for the dog so she doesn't get tired and try to climb up on you or another swimmer.
Digging on the beach is total joy for those terriers and other happy diggers. Always remember your poop bags, so nobody leaves a present in the sand. That will NOT bring joy to he who finds it.
To Leash or Not to Leash
As a rule, a leash and harness are ideal. Her collar should be there for her ID and as a lovely accessory.
Tugging or pulling hard on her collar can harm her neck and back. Of course there are places where dogs can be off leash -- dog parks, state parks and private land. Be sure that your dog has superb recall. Never put her or yourself in a situation where she could take off after wildlife, another dog, horse, hiker or mountain biker. That would NOT be joyful for anyone.
Finally, Take time this summer to really BE with your dog and observe all the ways she teaches you about Joy. We all could use more of that!
With Love, Your Voice of Animals,