Welcome to Day 38 of #100daysofenrichment and thank you for joining us on this journey!
Although our challenges are directed mainly at dogs, we want all species to enjoy and benefit from #100daysofenrichment so, please join in, adjust and adapt to help your pet or companion live a more enriched life.
Massage & Mindfulness
Mindfulness is all the rage at the moment, and here we will apply it to just being with our dogs, really being with them.
On Day 4, we talked about just being; a challenge for both pets and their people. In our modern go-go-go world, spending some time appreciating the here and now can be difficult.
Today’s challenge will combine these experiences but don’t worry if you are just joining us now, review previous days for background or start today, bearing consent in mind.
There are no big plans or training exercises today. We are going to dial is way back and be.
Learning to just be is not necessarily a skill that comes to most pet dogs easily, and indeed to many people. Just being is a lost art; in the age of smart phones and on-demand entertainment, we don’t have to be very often or for very long.
But, this is such an important skill for companion animals, who, at the whim of their humans, must be able to be in environments that don’t always cater for their natural tendencies.
Can dogs be mindful?
Well, we don’t have evidence for that and even if they could, I’m not sure we would know about it! But that doesn’t mean we can’t facilitate them developing some of the benefits experienced by humans who practice mindfulness.
Breathing deeply, feeling secure and safe, choosing to consent or not, and just being, bring lots of wonderful benefits in stress busting and relationship boosting, for both ends of the leash.
Being mindful, with your dog presents benefits for you too and together.
Be; really be
- Where can both you and your dog be? Practice there.
- When can both you and your dog be? Choose times when your dog is already calm and have had all their needs met. When the house is quiet and when you can be calm.
- Don’t introduce toys, treats or other signals that might suggest that this is a training exercise. So, practice in a different location, wear different clothes, practice at times that are not associated with training sessions, activity or play.
- Set up so you are comfy and so that your dog can relax in their favoured position – this helps to reduce shifting and fidgeting. You moving might cause your dog to be on alert, thinking that you are going to leave or going to engage your dog in some activity.
- Put your phone away. Turn off the TV or radio.
- Settle close together. Although ‘massage’ is in the title, you don’t have to touch, if that’s not your dog’s thing.
- Breathe slowly, calmly and steadily. Match your dog’s breaths.
- Sigh. Sigh deeply.
- Ask your dog. Do they consent to being touched?
Touch your dog in a favourite spot. If your dog moves away, moves any part of their body away, starts to lick at your face or hand, or if your dog gets active or goes very still, stop touching.
Touch for a three count and withdraw. Ask them. Listen to them.
- Massage your dog gently. Trace their muscles and bones, gently. Move slowly enough so that you can feel what’s happening under their skin.
We have talked about using some touch based aspects of T-touch here.
- Think about your dog’s breathing. Think about the feeling of the lay of their coat. Think about your dog and how they bring light to your life. Think about your relationship with your dog. Think about just being, with your dog.
When you first start with this, a massage might just last a few seconds. That’s ok. This isn’t a race.
We practice this in Crazy2Calm class, as part of learning about relaxation, breathing and self-calming.
Dogs and other companion animals must learn how to be around people and people-goings-on. Dogs gain these skills by being around people, especially when they are young.
Spending time isolated from opportunities to be around people is detrimental to behavioural and social development. Dogs who are alone for large portions of the day, especially young dogs, may be at risk of suffering negative effects.
To help these dogs, we are tempted to spend the little available time with them go, go going. We think we are making up for lost time by providing the dog with activity, exertion and excitement. While all that stuff may be a good addition, consider just being as just as important a skill and a vital part of helping and supporting them, when you can spend time with them.
Now it’s your turn. Show us what you and your pets, of any species, can do with these challenges!
Post to your social media accounts, using the #100daysofenrichment so that we can find you and join our Facebook group to share your experiences, ideas and fun!
You can comment right here too 🙂
We look forward to hearing from you and your pets – just be!