If change of any kind was easy, everyone would do it!
Sondra and I worked together over the last several months on a variety of concerns ranging from separation anxiety and aggression.
Malfurion and Maverick (from right to left) had a serious fight between the two resulting in injury and emotional distress not only between them but Sondra was scared too.
Sondra felt the edges of her comfort zone frequently. She embodied how she wanted to feel, she took action in spite of the limiting beliefs (and friends and family) telling her it can’t be done and she’s accomplishing what she set out to do.
Coaching your clients is not just about addressing the behavior concerns their dogs are experiencing or displaying, it is setting up your clients with support so they can feel empowered and recognize their own capabilities. In doing so, your clients can not only deepen the relationship with their dogs, but also find themselves along the way!
For Sondra and I, we worked together virtually too!
“I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last months— I think it’s even been a whole year almost— of me handling and training my dog(s) behavioral problems. I would say the biggest thing I learned is even with my personal issues, I CAN do it. I AM capable. And mindset is sooo important in all of this. I’ve always struggled personally with feelings of being a failure and a burden etc. I’ve struggled with mental illness, and still struggle everyday as I have bipolar type 1. I’ve had to give up on a lot of dreams and wants and wishes because of this, and to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel where I might not have to give up my dogs just makes me feel like I can succeed at something despite the worlds’ stigma thinking otherwise. Which means.. maybe I can succeed at other things I was told not to bother trying with. One less failure can turn into more successes if I apply this to other things in my life. I’ve also been doing this journey almost 100% on my own as my husband is not really involved with training or daily care/activities with the dogs. I learned I had become really dependent on him and others around me for things, and doing such an overwhelming and seemingly impossible task on my own with the proper support really showed me that I can do this. I can do it on my own. I’m capable. I’m able. I still fight the dooms day mentality, and have my bad days where nothing goes right and I fear the worst, but before where it would ruin me and my dogs progress, I now know my mindset when training my dogs and my fears can really REALLY impact their progression and outcome of the whole situation. This has helped me deal with not only my dogs, but mg marriage, my other intra-personal relationships, my work in the process of starting our own business, and me as a person. I’m not anywhere near where I want to be, but I am so much further than where I started. I need to celebrate the small wins.. no matter how insignificant they seem to others or even myself because a win is a win.” Sondra H.
Curious how you can support your clients in a deeper and more meaningful way?
Sometimes, your client’s dog behavior is less about your client’s dog and more about how your client shows up!
They take on the judgments from others saying what should and shouldn’t be done with their dog and how they’re getting it all wrong, tearing at their insides.
When they allow themselves to take on what others say or do or what the outdated culture of dog training dictates, creates stress within your client
They are filled with self doubt and worry.
On top of navigating through these limited beliefs of what is possible, your clients are also challenged by how to help their dog who is barking and lunging at other people and dogs. A history is already established.
The weight of the world on your client’s shoulders even before they take a step outside.
When your client is feeling burdened, they are overwhelmed by feelings of worry and even fear.
A person’s fear response can vary from fight, flight, freeze or fiddle around just like their dogs!
When your client’s dog is startled or experiencing a frightening situation (real or perceived) and these limited beliefs are swirling around your client’s minds, they are already at a limited capacity to step in and respond.
In this situation, your client is startled too and their sense of fear will take over and they will want to move away while their dog may respond differently.
Your client’s dog may instead move towards the scary thing responding with a fight reaction. This will lead your client to jerk on the leash.
Your client and their dog may both freeze. This also leads them into danger as this continues to create a situation which your client and their dog feel unsafe most likely resulting in their dog barking and lunging.
At this point, your client may then pull on the leash because they are trying to move away.
There are a number of different scenarios can occur when your client is not grounded in the here and now.
When your client can stay present and remain in the pocket of a situation that is perceived to be scary, your clients are able to strategize in navigating through this surprising situation.
Guiding your clients to be comfortable with discomfort will allow them to expand their mindset and help them override their own fear response when they and their dog are confronted with a surprising situation.
How can you guide your clients in stopping their minds from taking over?
I practiced saying to myself, “I got this” before I stepped out the door when I would walk Jack. As you may know, Jack was easily overwhelmed and I struggled with not knowing what to do at the time. Telling myself, “I got this”, put in an empowered mindset and better able to recognize and respond to situations I knew would create havoc for Jack.
Deep breathing. Sometimes those scary situations happen in a blink of an eye (imagine coming around a corner and a dog charging a fence as you’re walking by with your dog). I learned to recognize yes this is scary, but we’re not in immediate danger. I take a deep breath to center myself and reconnect with Jack. As I become centered, my breath is calming my sympathetic nervous system. I’m now in my thinking brain and able to problem solve. This eases the burden of the experience on Jack and we can both move away being less emotionally charged.
I guide others to do step 1 and 2 as well as take shorter walks. As your clients are successful with shorter distances, this builds their confidence to keep moving forward.
Guide your clients to take a break from practice. In our culture, we are not accustomed to taking a break. A pause in practice will allow space for your client and their dog to decompress. Walks aren’t everything. There are ways your client can bond with their dogs that doesn’t require a structured walk.
Teach your clients to celebrate their wins! Celebrate a win regardless of how big or small. This is a motivator for them to keep going.
If you’re curious how to create an embodied coaching relationship with your dog training clients, set up your Uniting Call with me!