Multitasking is the buzz word you hear every day. We are all trying to accomplish more tasks in the shortest amount of time. I am as guilty as the rest when it comes to doing this. However, I’ve been reading about the importance of being in the moment with your dog and spending time together without any added distractions and I believe this is really important in developing a strong bond and relationship with your dog.
One of the best aspects of our 2015 IACP conference was the Pack Walk we did with Brother Christopher of the Monks of New Skete. It lasted about 30 minutes and we just walked with our dogs without saying anything (listening to the birds, focusing on breathing, enjoying the beauty of the water or just the leash swooshing back and forth). It was a chance for us to breathe and for our dog to just relax in a peaceful state of mind next to us.
How many people take 5-10 minutes a day for themselves without distractions (including cell phones, TV, electronic devices, children and even significant others)? Just taking 5-10 minutes to meditate, relax, stretch or reflect on the day is a hard goal to master but I am going to encourage everyone to try this in the next 30 days. You can do this in the morning or evening or better yet, set aside time to do it at the start of your day and as a closure to the end of your day.
I believe this also applies to our pets. I can’t count the number of times I go outside and throw the ball for my dogs while checking a few emails and face book on my i-phone, throw the ball again, repeat… I don’t think my dog knows I am really with her and I am not really enjoying our time together. I have made it a goal of mine to go outside for puppy playtime without my cell phone anymore. I can give each dog my undivided attention – be full on with Ginger while we play fetch, pet Sandy and let her sniff in the woods and watch Sheba bury her toys and dig for moles in the yard and just enjoy their personalities and our time together. It has really made a difference in how they respond to me and how excited they are when they receive undivided attention from me. (And yes they deserve this attention during all four seasons- so I will grab sunglasses, a rain jacket, a winter coat, etc).
I think the fast paced world we live in makes it difficult to be patient when we train as well. We live in an instant gratification society. I know if I have to wait more than 3 seconds for a picture to download on social media, I will move on to the next message (and I am a patient person by nature but technology just makes me want everything immediately). This also applies to training and not pushing your dog too far too fast.
I encourage everyone to try to be in the moment with your dog and if you have multiple dogs, make sure they each get special one on one bonding time with you. Try training without using any words at all. I think both you and the dog(s) will enjoy your time together and it will help build a stronger relationship with trust, respect and time. Try these techniques and let me know how it goes.