The Everyday Trainer Podcast

Mindfulness, Wellness, and Dog Training: A Journey Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

July 28, 2023 Meghan Dougherty
The Everyday Trainer Podcast
Mindfulness, Wellness, and Dog Training: A Journey Towards a Healthier Lifestyle
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered how your state of mind influences your dog’s behavior? During this episode, I share my journey of self-discovery and mindfulness that has transformed my approach to dog training. I reveal my personal struggles and the profound impact of my emotional state on those around me, particularly my dogs who often mirror my emotions. This episode is a vivid exploration of how our state of being can have enormous power over effective dog training.

The discussion doesn't stop at the mental health of our dogs, it extends to their overall well-being. Engage with me as we delve into a holistic approach to canine health, emphasizing the immense role nature and nutrition play in promoting wellness for both dogs and their owners. We also discuss the surprisingly powerful factors such as sunlight, circadian rhythm, and a balanced diet that aid in managing your dog's energy levels.

To wrap things up, we reflect on the benefits of incorporating mindfulness practices into our everyday lives. Through my personal experiences of employing rewards, walking drills, and the effect of artificial light on our dogs' sleep and energy levels, I hope to inspire listeners to foster a calmer state of mind in their pets. We also touch on the power of self-care, with a focus on journaling as a tool for managing emotions and gaining perspective. So, step into this enlightening journey towards a healthier lifestyle for you and your dog. Enjoy the ride!

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Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome back to the Everyday Trainer podcast. My name is Meg and I am a dog trainer, so on today's episode I'm talking mindfulness and dog training. This is one of my favorite topics to talk about. I think our state of mind has a huge influence on our dogs and I see it all the time. So in this episode we're going to cover how our state of mind can influence our dogs, ways to help our dogs be physically healthy because you know, the mind follows the body how we can reinforce a calm state of mind and practices that can help make us better so our dogs can follow our lead. So you know the drill Grab yourself a tasty drink and we'll meet you back here. Hello and welcome back. Thank you, as always, for joining me for another week of this podcast. I'm super grateful that people actually listen to me talk. So this week we're talking about mindfulness. This is something that I got into probably two years into my business because I realized well, no, I'll say I got into it when I was in grad school, for sure. So you know, when I talk about mindfulness, I'm not coming from the point of view of, like some, you know, like hippie, that is just like calm all the time. I'm actually a little bit of a crazy person and I have to work very, very hard, very, very hard, to like be neutral and to like be okay. I definitely kind of err on the side of like sad girl, so if I don't do certain things, I kind of feel myself drifting over there. So this isn't coming from a place of, you know, judgment or saying like, oh, you have to do these things to be like healthy and for your dog to be happy, and blah, blah, blah, blah blah. That's not what this is at all. This is coming from. You know, when I first got into you know, reading about mindfulness and meditation and all of this stuff, I was in grad school and I was stressed out. I had a dog that was stressing me out you know, she's the one who started my dog training journey. So I realized that I needed to figure out some way to kind of live with myself. I was, I was to a place where, you know, just sitting alone with my thoughts was like not a fun place to be, it was not a good way to exist. And I just got to the point where I was like this cannot be it, like I don't know what it is or how I'm supposed to be, or you know how I'm supposed to feel, but this ain't it. So I did a lot of research and a lot of reading and a lot of meditating, and all of the advice that I'm going to share with you in this episode is going to come from that the years of experience that I've spent kind of figuring out what works for me and how I can be mindful and how you know I can influence my dog state of mind, but also my years of experience working with owners. And I'm telling you I can meet an owner and I can tell you exactly how their dog is going to be. I can meet a dog and I can tell you exactly what the owner is doing with them and how the owner feels, because our dogs really are these little emotional sponges and I would almost be doing a disservice being a dog trainer not talking about how our state of mind can influence our dogs Right, so they really are mirrors. They really reflect everything that's kind of going on within us, and when we get these dogs in for training, it's a very personal relationship, like myself and my trainers, when we're with these dogs. We know these dogs so well, I would argue almost better than the owners, sometimes just because of our experience and kind of looking at them through this like dog trainer lens, you know. So we're forming these super close relationships with these dogs and we really like they have their own personalities, just like how you meet some people and you're like that person is really anxious or like this person is really just like insecure, like it's the same way with our dogs, and often you know, the owners kind of mirror the dogs and the dogs mirror the owners. So I would really be doing a disservice if I was a dog trainer talking about dog training and all the things that we could do and I didn't talk about. You know how we have so much control over our state of mind and the influence that that has, not just on our dogs but on everybody around us, is just absolutely massive. So one of the things that I feel very passionate about is that you know I don't ever want to judge what somebody else is doing. I don't ever want to say, oh, this person should be doing this thing or whatever. All I can do is be the best version of myself. Right? I'm not trying to fight anybody else's battles, I'm not trying to get involved, you know, with you know silly things, because, at the end of the day, the only thing that I have control over is myself and my state of mind and how I show up in the world. So if I'm not taking care of myself and I'm not taking care of, you know my well-being, my state of mind, and you know bringing mindfulness into all of my interactions with people and dogs. I'm out here just, you know, being reactive and impulsive and probably affecting people pretty negatively. So I genuinely do my best to work very hard at my state of mind because of that, because it just really has this ripple effect on the people and the animals around us. So the biggest power that we have when it comes to dog training is truly having, you know, some level of control and thoughtfulness around our state of being. So, with all that being said, all of this comes from experience. So I, too, struggle with mindfulness. I am running around all day, all day, going from one thing to the next. I kind of joke that if anybody were to follow me around, they would. They would be shocked at how little I sit, how little I stop moving, and so the biggest struggle for me is when I do stop moving, what happens? My thoughts catch up to me, and it's not always a great place to be. So mindfulness has taught me how, to you know, recognize those thoughts and not allow myself to attach to them. And I love talking about this because the parallels with this and dog training are just, they're huge, right. So one of the main ways that dog trainers train dogs is they teach impulse control and they teach things like place. So the place command is just a command where we can send our dogs to go and lay down and relax. And I tell people, this is like doggy meditation, right, it's like a crate with no walls. So we're telling our dogs hey, I just want you to go here, I want you to lay down and I want you to relax and that's it, that's all you have to do. I just need you to sit still. But the problem is we're so busy filling every single moment of our dog's lives with enrichment activities or games or treats or Kongs or walks or training sessions that the thing that I find most dogs struggle with is actually sitting still. So that is a huge emphasis of our training and it's also something that I try to bring to my owner's attention as well. Right, because if you're running around all day long, if you can't settle, if you're in this super anxious state all the time, your dog is just going to follow your lead and most of us can relate to this on some level. Whether you have struggled with you know, like depression or anxiety I definitely I've been very open about this, this is something that I have talked about like struggling myself. I'm definitely like a high highs and low, low type of person, like that manic depressive, but I can. I've harnessed my superpower for that and I know how I operate now because of all of this like mindfulness practice that I do. And so I will meet these owners. Or I'll work with owners who are just so anxious all the time and I meet their dogs and their dog is so anxious all the time. Or I meet a dog who's just like always scanning the environment, and then I meet the owner and they're doing the exact same thing. So your dog is always going to follow your lead. They're going to act how you act, and if we can learn to bring mindfulness to our state of mind, to our you know body language and you know how we show up in the world, we can really influence our dog's behavior as well. So there's definitely a time and place for excitement, but balance is definitely necessary. So my goal with training dogs is not to have, like, little robot dogs that's never the goal, right. But I want a dog that can do both. I want a dog that can, you know, turn on and do a super fun training session and, you know, play fetch with me or play tug with me or wrestle with me. But I also want a dog that can settle and relax and I've found in, you know, my journey as a pet dog trainer. Most owners are doing really well with the active training stuff, the getting their dog excited, the sniff games, the enrichment they're doing all of the things. Where they're struggling is their dogs don't have an off switch, and I think part of this is coming from our own way of living, and I am, you know, no one to talk truly, but this is just my observation, right, we're rushing from one thing to the next. We're constantly, you know, consumed with like, okay, what's the next thing? What are we doing on our schedule? How do you know? What time do we need to leave? When do we need to do this, like our whole lives kind of revolve around doing the next thing and doing it in a timely manner and just getting there quickly. And so we're just kind of rushing through our day. And then we go out and take our dog for a walk and we're like, why is my dog like dragging me down the street, why are they rushing? And it's like, well, you've accidentally reinforced this like rushed, anxious state of mind all day just because of kind of how you're running around doing things. And so if we, you know, slow everything down and we take time in between each of our you know tasks for the day, you know, with our dogs, and we take the time to reinforce calm, we can really teach our dogs how we want them to just exist. And, you know, because so many dogs struggle with anxiety, it's it's not just about how that anxiety affects us per se, right? So let's say you say your dog has separation anxiety. They're just like stressed out over sounds or, you know, is constantly barking at the door. They're just on alert all the time. That's not a fun way for your dog to exist either, right? So we're doing them a favor when we focus on reinforcing calm and we lead by example. We're showing our dogs like, hey, you don't have to live this way, you don't have to live in this constant like like you're on shift, right, we need our dogs to be able to check out and relax and, you know, just be dogs. So if you're living anxiously, if you're rushing everything, your dog will too. Dogs are truly our mirrors, right? So I I joke that my dogs are like my personalities. I have Zoe and Lucy are kind of, you know they're, they're my soul dogs. I've had them the longest and they're complete opposites. Zoe wants to lay in bed all day and cuddle and eat snacks and that's it, right, she's my lighter colored golden. And then I have Lucy who, if it's still for too long, she will just lose her mind. She can't sit still, she's super active, like she just wants to go, she just wants to run in a field, she just wants to explore. That's Lucy. So with Lucy, she was the one who really taught me you know the effects that my state of mind can have on the dog, because when I got Lucy, I was in grad school at the time and I I've told this story about like a million times, but I was on the verge of, okay, do I get rid of this dog and do I stay in grad school or do I drop out of grad school and figure out how to train this dog? But you know, a piece of that that's also very important is I wasn't in a good place mentally when I was in grad school. I had moved from Orlando to Lexington, kentucky, and I didn't hate Lexington, but I wasn't in love with my program. I wasn't in love with my job. It was a huge adjustment for me, leaving Florida and going back to kind of like the Midwest, because I grew up in Missouri and I didn't I don't want to say like I didn't love growing up in Missouri, like I didn't have like a bad life at all, but I really enjoy being outside all the time and that like six months out of the year where you like don't see the sun like really affected me. So I was pretty pumped to get out of Missouri and just going back to Lexington kind of put me back in that state. So I already wasn't in like the best state of mind when I was in grad school and that a thousand percent had a huge impact on Lucy's behavior. So I was struggling with Lucy because she couldn't settle, she couldn't sit still. And of course genetically she's, you know, a field line golden. She's a working golden, which at the time I didn't really know. Now I know. But you know, genetically she's going to be a lot more high energy than, let's say, zoe, who's kind of like a show line right, she's just like, looks cute and is chill and has always just been a cuppy cake dog. But I definitely exaggerated my issues with Lucy because I was constantly running around, I was constantly working, I took them, you know, to my apartment complex, had a dog park. It wasn't like a huge gross dog park, it was just like a few dogs, but I would take them to the dog park like twice a day and I was basically just mimicking their life after mine. So I couldn't sit still, I couldn't settle, and so I just did the same for my dogs. And then I was like why is Lucy so neurotic? Like why does she keep wanting to like go outside and go outside and go outside and like do more things, and like she just can't sit still, like I couldn't get anything done because she just couldn't sit still. And at the time I didn't realize that I was literally creating that, like I was creating this like super athlete because I was like, oh well, I'm just going to solve her like anxiousness and her destructiveness with more exercise and, you know, more dog parks and more enrichment and, you know, just doing more, more, more, more, more with her, when instead I should have been working on that off switch with her and that kind of like doggy meditation that I talk about so much. So it's super important that we act how we want our dogs to act. I talk about this a lot with my reactive dog owners. People will be like, well, what do I do when my dog is reacting? Or some people will be like, hey, hey, stop, stop, stop. And I'm like, hey, I don't want you to say anything, I want you to act exactly how you want your dog to act. I want you to. You know, keep moving forward, look ahead, walk confidently, don't say anything, don't freak out. You know, be that calm confidence that you want your dog to be. If you're really anxious in situations, guess what your dog is going to pick up on that. So if you're anxious to, let's say, take your dog to a farmer's market, your dog's going to be like, why is she so anxious? Right, and they're going to follow your lead. So, when you do those things, you know, check in with yourself, check in Okay, how am I feeling right now? One of my favorite things to do, if I'm ever, you know, feeling anxious about something, is to ask myself where do I feel this? Because what you'll find is that you're not actually able to pinpoint the physical feeling of being anxious. So, like, a good example of this is they'll be like I'm feeling real anxious. Okay, what does that feel like? Well, you know, my stomach is tight and I have like that short you know breath and my chest feels tight. Okay, let's hold on to that, let's feel it. And then you sit with that for a couple of seconds and you realize that you can't actually hold on to that feeling and then it's actually just your thoughts perpetuating that feeling in your body. So that's one of my favorite things to do. And sometimes I'll hand a leash to the owner and you know I can feel their energy and they'll tense up and I say, hey, take a deep breath, relax your arms and walk forward. And just that little moment of you know, hey, let's, let's check in real quick, really puts them in, you know, the right state of mind that they need to be in to be able to lead their dog. So that's some of the ways that you know our state of mind can really influence our dogs. And not just that, but our dogs are picking up on a whole world around them through their nose. So they are a thousand percent picking up on your emotions. Dogs can sense. You know blood sugar and cancer and you know gluten in food. They can literally smell gluten in food. They can a thousand percent smell when you are feeling anxious. They can a thousand percent smell when you are fearful. Now I don't want you to whip yourself up into those like anxious thoughts of like oh, my dog knows that I'm anxious. Oh well, that's making me even more anxious because, trust me, like been there, sometimes I'll get these like really aggressive dogs. That I'm a little, I have to say, like as I've progressed as a trainer, I'm a little more hesitant to, I'm not as confident with those dogs anymore, just because I've seen so much. But sometimes I'll catch myself and I'm like, ooh, feel a little nervous around this dog. Take a deep breath, put the dog away, come back later when I'm feeling less nervous. So this is. This is definitely coming from a place of experience, you know. So I don't want that like mindfulness to whip into this like cycle of guilt for yourself of like, oh well, I'm anxious, and so it's making my dog feel anxious and that makes me feel even more anxious. And you know, just recognize like, ooh, you know feeling anxious right now. That's okay, it's not going to last, it's going to go away. If I try to feel it in my physical body, I realize that it's not really there for that long and my thoughts are actually perpetuating it. Sometimes that can help. So your dog is picking up on a whole world just through their nose and you know they're, they're more intuitive than I think we give ourselves or give them credit for. So the more that we can check in with ourselves and kind of tune into our own state of mind, the more we have control over our dogs, if that makes sense. Another thing I want to touch on is how the body comes first. So when I say this, it's really just saying like you can't mentally be okay if you know physically you're not okay, like I and this is this is just me right Like I choose to take kind of like this holistic perspective of you know wellness, but also like dog training, like we can't just look at dog training as like, oh, we're just teaching these little behaviors, we're just teaching sit, we're just teaching down, we're just doing these things. Like that's such a small little portion of it. Dog training is, you know, so so much more than just doing the little, the little actions, and it's really about creating a lifestyle for our dogs that is the most natural and the most fulfilling and enriching for them. Right, think like animals in a zoo, animals in a zoo or you might not know this, but I have. I have some like zoo experience and some like rehab experience. But when you have animals that are not in their natural environment, you do everything possible to get it, get their environment as close to their natural environment as possible. So when I'm talking about dog training, it's not just about like fixing behavioral issues or teaching skills. It's about like how can we create a lifestyle for our dogs that is fulfilling for them? On this kind of like natural level? My goal is to always get back to naturally, like what would my dog be doing if I weren't living in this little house or living in this apartment, right? So, for example, lucy is a field line golden. She would be a retriever, she would retrieve ducks. She's an excellent swimmer. That's something that I integrate into her life. I make sure that I take her swimming. I make sure that I fulfill that need for her, because if I'm not fulfilling her natural instincts and her natural needs, she's going to have behavioral issues and it's the same thing for us. So a lot of these things that I'm going to touch on, you know, of how we can help our dogs be physically like at their best, is also huge with us too. You know it really applies to everybody. So there are some ways that we can create healthy dogs physically so that they can thrive mentally. One of my favorite you know little points that I like to get each day is get outside first thing in the morning. Everything. Sunlight is so important, it's so important. One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is the Huberman podcast. He talks about this a ton. I was actually in a circadian rhythm like class slash lab in grad school and basically every week we would meet up and someone there would be like a presentation or a couple of presentations each day where somebody would find a research article on, you know, studying our circadian rhythm and present the data to the rest of the class. So this whole semester I basically just read all of these research studies on the circadian rhythm and you know the circadian cycle and how it influences our hormones and our well-being and this is the craziest shit ever Like. It literally influences everything. It is so important. I can't even like begin to emphasize how important it is, but Andrew Huberman has a ton of podcasts on this. He's also really big on kind of this like sunrise, sunset schedule and making sure that you get outside first thing in the morning and avoid you know sunglasses and get you know that sun on your skin and in your eyes because it sets your body up for success for that day. It tells your body, hey, you know it's time to wake up. You start releasing those like wake up hormones. It sets the tone for how the rest of your day is going to go and if you think about it, it makes sense, right? We're not really meant to have all of this like blue light and artificial light and closed blinds, like we're meant to kind of exist more with nature, and our dogs are the same way. So one thing that is extremely important to me is that the dogs get outside every single morning First thing in the morning while the sun is rising. We get plenty of outside time. They get to sniff, you know. Walk around the yard, go for walks. That is huge for me, so kind of going into. My next thing is your dog needs to be able to sniff. And I talk so much about structured walks and everybody comes for me as if I'm not letting the dogs sniff ever, as if I'm just some like military bitch who is like telling the dogs are never allowed to sniff. That is so far from the truth it's not even funny. So I have a massive backyard and I literally have, like these little trails that run through my backyard and I let the dogs sniff every morning. They get plenty of roaming time throughout the day. But that's super important for our dogs. They lead through the world with their noses and sniffing is really important. There's just a time and a place for it. So when I'm on a walk with the dog that's not necessarily the time or place like while we're walking I will pull off to the side, I'll go over to a field, you know. I'll go somewhere where I can let my dogs roam and sniff and sometimes I'll let them off leash, sometimes I'll just let the leash drag behind them, but we get plenty of time for sniffing. It's just not happening during those structured walks. So you do need to do like this outside time with your dog and allow them to sniff Very important Our dogs need to be able to use their noses. It's so important for them. So the next thing is we want to feed our dogs whole foods, mostly proteins, and I'm saying this right now as somebody who is feeding currently feeding kibble, okay, okay. So you know, this is just. This is the ideal situation. I've been here. I've prepped all of the raw myself. It was great. I could do it for a little bit, but it wasn't sustainable for me between traveling and now I Don't have two seconds of time In my life to be able to prep all of those meals. So I'm actually looking into Viva raw. I talked about this on one of my previous episodes, the nutrition episode, and this is just kind of like a little aside here. But I'm actually looking into Viva raw and they are sending me samples to try this week and I actually think they're gonna get here like today, if they haven't already. So I'm super excited about that and I'm definitely gonna share with you guys like how I feel about them. They have been so freaking nice I DM them Like they're so nice. So I'm super excited to start working with them. And well, not even not working with them, I'm literally not even working with them. I just want their food like I want their product. Because I am so big on nutrition, I've kind of fallen off the band bandwagon for myself. Same thing for my dogs. But ideally I see the difference between dogs that are on foods like Royal Canaan. I hate Royal Canaan. Literally read the ingredients on the bag. It there's like nothing good in there. Versus you know a dog food like Viva Raw. That's like raw balanced. You know it comes in like chunks. So your dog is getting the full effect of like chewing Raw meat and raw meaty bones. I think that is super important. And when my dogs were on raw, I Was adding in things like blended veggies. I was adding in you know, little blueberries, supplements, some fish oil, like the food was just so good for the dogs and I saw how it affected their state of mind and their well-being and their coats and their health. And there's just there's no way to argue that Putting good in you're gonna get good out. So when we feed ourselves whole foods. You know we're not. We're not eating processed foods all day and chips and cereals and all of that. We feel so much better. And it's the same thing for our dogs and so often I see dogs that are in this constant state of inflammation whether they have skin issues or they have anxiety, like those kind of go together. When I have dogs that are really anxious, I can look at their diet and I can look at their skin and I can see you know, I can see all of these correlations and this is something that is Now kind of starting to come to the forefront. You know dog trainers talking about like hey, we're feeding our dogs this really crappy food and it's basically just a bunch of corn and it's causing a lot of allergy and like yeast, overgrowth and anxiety. And when we switch our dogs, we're seeing this huge Difference in their state of mind. And this is just from working with you know, hundreds and hundreds of dogs. I know the kibble. I know what the kibbles look like now. I know who eats what. I can sometimes look at a dog and be like you get royal Canaan. I can just tell you eat royal Canaan. So nutrition is a huge, huge component of, you know, taking care of our dogs body first to be able to take care of their mind. And if you want to learn more about Nutrition again, go check out that previous episode that I recorded. It's amazing. It's a great resource. All right, next thing get plenty of time out in nature. So, again, my goal is always to get our dogs back to the natural state that I want them to be in. I want my dogs to get outside and play in the dirt and Be dogs like I want them to be dogs. I don't want them to just be little like Couch potatoes, like my dogs are constantly covered in sand, they're constantly dirty, but they live the best lives Like. They are so happy, they're so confident. Like they. They have no idea. They have no idea how good they have it. But I truly believe that getting our dogs outside and even for us getting outside has a huge impact on our physical and mental well-being, and Dogs actually get their probiotics from soil and I think this is another huge reason why so many dogs get sick so easily now is because we are not exposing them to dirt and to nature and, you know, taking them on hikes and so they're not getting exposed to these like very important Micro organisms that make up their like let's just kind of face it immune system, right. So you've kind of heard of, like you know, the kids that roll in dirt never get, never get sick. Or you know, the kids that are exposed to so much when they're younger don't get sick because they're they're exposed to all of that. It's really the same thing for our dog. So it's important to build up that like microbiome for your dog and getting them out in nature is gonna be super important for that. And, knock on wood, my dogs never get sick, like ever, ever. Like. My dogs just don't get sick and I genuinely believe it's because I let them be dogs and I let them explore and I let them chew on sticks and I let them roll in dirt and mud and swim in the creek and, you know, be dogs and spend time out in nature because at the end of the day, you know that's what they were bred to do and Not that long ago you know just your grandparents generation really my grandparents generation they had dogs outside. They had dogs for hunting, they had dogs as guard dogs on the farms, like dogs were living lives that aligned with their genetics much more so than they are now, and so because of that, we're seeing this huge rise in, you know, anxiety cases and behavioral cases, because we've gotten so far away From how our dogs are naturally supposed to exist. So get plenty of time outside in nature. Now my next thing is this is just kind of like my thing, and you know, I think Andrew Huberman would back me up here but minimize artificial light. It seems silly and people make fun of me all the time, but I really do follow a sunrise sunset schedule and I really do think that it helps the dogs. And I think my clients would be like what do you do with the dogs? Why are they so calm? And I'm like it's, I'm aligning their circadian rhythm. So one thing that I make my trainers do is shut off all of the big lights in the house when the sun is setting. I'm like, nope, we're not doing big lights, because I've noticed that when I leave lights on for the dogs, they don't settle as well, and I think it's really important for them to be aligned with sunrise sunset schedule. So if I have all of these really big artificial lights on in my house, it really affects the dogs and they struggle to settle. They don't sleep as well at night, they're not as energized in the morning and it just overall affects them. And it's very Exaggerated for me because I have a whole room full of dogs, whereas if you just have one dog you might not notice it as much. But because I have so many dogs here and even just like my personal dogs, I have so many personal dogs, I Really get to see the effects of. Oh, we stayed up late last night and all the lights were on until you know 11 pm and the dogs didn't sleep as well. They, you know, woke us up through the night. So really set your dog up for success. Wake up first thing in the morning when the sun is out. Get outside. That's when they're gonna have the most energy. Take them out into the yard, take them for a long walk, take them to a field to run around in, take them with you to go get coffee. Let's say you live in a city. Take them with you to go get coffee. Just get them outside in the morning and do something physically active. That's really gonna set the tone for how your day is gonna go. Now in the middle of the day, you know, the heat of the day is when our dogs are gonna need some downtime. So that's when I do a lot of crate time, a lot of place time. But most dogs are naturally going to kind of sleep in that middle of the day. They're gonna wake back up in, you know, the afternoon and evening and they're gonna have a lot more energy. But Right before sunset I want you to do something active with your dog. But as the sun is starting to set, I want you to kind of set the tone for how nighttime is gonna go. So start slowing down, maybe do some place with your dog in the house, minimize those artificial lights. That's why I have that crazy red light in my living room. Everybody asks what the oh, why I have a red light and why I get, you know, made fun of and I have the vampire house. That's why is because I don't want all of this blue light in the house and it affects how we sleep. And Again, this kind of goes back to what I was saying in the beginning of the podcast, like I have to work very, very hard to be like Good, to be in a good place, and so getting sleep for me is everything, like I am no better than a dog. I Really have to start winding down at night and go to bed pretty early, because I wake up early and if I don't get good sleep, I don't feel good and I don't, you know, exude the energy that I want to exude out into the world. So that's something that's, you know, very important to me sleep. I've always been very big on my sleep, because if I don't get my sleep, I am not a very functioning Person. So minimizing artificial light is a really good way to make sure that you are getting good enough sleep. Because, let's face it, if you're sitting in your bedroom, you know, blaring this giant TV into your eyes, you're really messing with your circadian rhythm. And I'm not gonna go into details because I don't really remember too much, but I will tell you that it has a huge impact. Like these studies that they would do on mice to study their circadian rhythm, and like the Impact of it is like they would leave lights on for like a Long period of time and like the mice would like die, like they literally die if they can't, like you know, go to sleep and their hormones aren't like on a schedule. So it definitely affects you. You might just, you know, not be so mindful to it. So the next thing is we want to have active time and down time. I talked about this with you know my experience with Lucy, right, so Lucy was really good at that active time Uh, she, you know, we did all the training things, we. We went for the walks, we went to the park, we did the enrichment stuff. But the part that I was struggling so much was that down time. And since our dogs body or no, since our dogs mind our mind follows our dog's body If we can slow our dog's body down, we're going to be able to slow their mind down, and that's really the value of something like place, right. So place is essentially doggy meditation. Now, when I talk about meditation, I'm really talking about mindfulness meditation. So mindfulness meditation is the meditation practice that I've been doing for the past Shoot, six years. I'm pretty consistent with it. I try to do at least 10 minutes every day. I don't always do that. Some, you know, some months I'm super consistent. Sometimes I'm not. I try to kind of give myself grace with that. But essentially, how I got started practicing mindfulness meditation is it was getting really difficult living with my thoughts. Right, my thoughts were just like consuming everything. I was like I'm so depressed, I'm so sad, I'm so unhappy, like I just kept saying. I am so like I am all of these really negative things. And I was latching onto these thoughts and I was like, all right, there's got to be some way to live with my own head Right. So I read a few books in meditation. I wish I could list them. I have a shelf over there that I'm trying to stare at right now but I actually cannot read them because they're too far away from me. I'll try to list them in the show notes, but I read a few books that kind of pointed me in the right direction of meditating and essentially what I do is I get myself in a seated position and I maintain, you know, pretty upright posture. I think for me that has been like a big part of it is kind of, you know, the awareness in my body. I think it's very easy to like lay down and like relax, right, but to kind of like sit up and maintain good prop posture. So I'll sit with like cross legs, a straight spine, you know I try to kind of like tuck my chin in. I'm always going to breathe through my nose. But essentially I'm just going to sit here and I'm going to breathe and I'm going to focus on that breath. I'm going to focus on the air coming in through my nose and filling my lungs and kind of pausing and then coming back out, and I'm going to do this for about three breaths and then what's going to happen is I'm going to be like oh, I forgot to take out the trash, right. And then my thoughts are going to be like oh no, remember, you did do that, because when you pulled into the driveway you dragged the trash can up and your neighbor was there, so you waved at him oh yeah, you need to give them that dishback. And then you're going to be wait, I'm supposed to be focused on my breath. So then we grab our thoughts again and we go okay, back to the breath. So breathe in and out, and in and out, and you're going to do that until your thoughts wander off again. And they're going to do this. They're going to do this about every three seconds for a while. When you first start meditating, you'll realize that your thoughts are all over the place, right? So the goal is to not not have thoughts. The goal is to just bring awareness to your thoughts, because what happens is we get a thought and then it leads us down this chain of thoughts and we come completely unaware of what our original intention was, which was to simply just breathe and to just focus on our breathing and not focus on these like thought holes that we can go down. So the goal is to bring awareness and bring yourself back to the breath, always bring yourself back to the breath, and this is just the form of meditation that I have done. There's many different types and, you know, I think there's something for everybody. So sitting meditation might be really difficult. Walking meditation might be something else. Maybe you can focus on your steps and do the same thing. You know, step right, left oh, I forgot to grab the mail today. You know, bring yourself back to your steps. So it's all about just kind of catching your thoughts, saying, oh there are my thoughts, go, thoughts go again, and bringing them back over to center. So the value of this is that it it shows us that our thoughts are just thoughts, they're just fleeting, they're just little clouds passing in the sky and we shouldn't cling to them. So when an anxious thought comes in or, you know, a depressed thought comes in. It's not us, it's just a thought, it's just a thing. We can see it, we can watch it, pass by and then it goes away and then a new thought is going to fill its place. But mindfulness is basically just kind of keeping, creating this space between our thoughts and ourselves. We're realizing that we are not our thoughts, we're simply just witnessing them. So, all that to say, I call the place command essentially doggy meditation. So doggy meditation is. All I need you to do is hang out on this little square, right. All I need you to do is focus on your breath. You're like oh, that's easy, right? Same thing for our dogs. Oh, yeah, I can hang out here on place. But what happens is there's a sound outside. Our dog is impulsive, they're going to bark. They get up. Oh, shoot, got to bring them back over to place. Something else happens. They get up, they go oh, there's a piece of food over here. I'm going to go check on that food. But when we teach our dogs to stay on place, we teach them that you can have these thoughts and not act on them, because the only thing I want you to do is stay here, stay on place, the only thing I want you to do in meditation is focus on your breath. I'm making it very, very simple for you so that you can always bring yourself back to it. We're not talking about not having thoughts, we're just talking about not acting on them. So having active time is very important. Right, we want to physically meet all of our dogs needs, but we also need to create that downtime. We need to create that doggy meditation. All right, another way that we're able to influence our dog's state of mind is we need to reward the state of mind I don't know, I said minds States of mind that you'd like to see more of. So wait for calm before progressing in steps. And we're rushing so much, so do our dogs. So when we take time and create space in all of our little daily tasks, we can wait for our dogs to get into this calm state of mind before we move forward in steps. So a good example of this is before I take a dog out for the crate, I have to make sure that they're calm. So I'm going to walk over to the crate. The dog goes oh my gosh, I'm getting ready to come out. Their tail is wagging. They're going crazy. Right, I'm going to stand there, I'm just going to wait for the dog to be calm. The dog calms down, they settle, they lay down. They're going to walk fast in steps. I walk over, I grab the latch on the crate door. The dog goes crazy again. Right, I'm going to wait. I'm going to wait for them to be calm. You know, when you first do this, this might take you 30 minutes to take your dog out. That's okay, it's all part of the training. It's all part of the walk. Everything leading up to the walk matters. We're constantly reinforcing our dog's state of mind. It's just what state of mind are we reinforcing? What behaviors are we reinforcing? A lot of times, because we're rushing, we're reinforcing this rush state of mind. So wait for calm between each of those steps. So we unlatch the crate. The dog goes crazy. Right, we stay in there. We wait. We make sure the dog doesn't come out of the crate. I put the leash on. Dog goes crazy again. I wait Very quickly. The dog will learn. Calm gets me moving forward. Calm gets me what I want and that's what we want. We want that calm to be our dog's default state of mind. I don't want excited to be the default state. Most dogs don't struggle with that. Most dogs are naturally in that state all the time. They need help slowing down, especially pet dogs. So when it comes to working dogs, that's a whole, other, whole other thing. But as far as pet dogs go and dogs with anxiety and fearfulness, slowing them down teaches them what state of mind we want to see more of and what state of mind we want to be their default state of mind. Now we also want to hold out on rewards for when our dogs are calm. Again, if this is your goal, we can use our rewards to shape what we want. So let's keep in mind rewards are affection. You know, petting our dog, praise oh it is so good, he's so good, right, food, freedom, coming out of the crate, going out of the backyard All of those things are rewarding to our dogs. So if we hold out and we only reward our dogs when they're offering this calm, while we're trying to teach them how to be calm, they're going to naturally give us those things Right. They're going to be like oh well, I'm always pet and it's not necessarily like this thought process for them, but I'm pet when I'm calm. I'm pet when I'm laying down. I get fed when all of my paws are on the ground, not when I'm jumping. So be very mindful of the affection that you're giving your dog and if you're giving it to them when they're in a state of mind that you don't necessarily want to see more of, whether it's, you know, anxious, whining or hiding or running away, are we going? Oh, it's okay, it's okay, right? You're just meeting your dog with the same energy that they're giving you. Act how you want your dog to act, be calm, be neutral, but show them, you know, that there's nothing to be anxious of, there's nothing to be fearful of. Walking drills are also a great way to get our dogs to slow down. So I talked a lot about place, but walking drills are huge and it's one of the main ways that I get dogs to focus on me and to slow themselves down, because, basically, the goal of the walking drill is that you feel the leash, you come back, you pay attention to me, right? So what happens is I'm walking, walking, walking. The dog hits the end of the leash. I'm going to walk backwards. The dog goes. Oh, the leash goes on. I'm going to pay attention to this person, right? So then we walk in the other direction. Dog hits the end of the leash, I move backwards. I walk the other direction. Okay, well, we do that so many times and the dog is going to learn. Oh man, I really got to pay attention to this person because she keeps changing directions on me. She's keeping me from acting on all of these impulses, right? So when you're moving, you're going to be very similar to the place command, but with these walking drills, we're doing it while we're moving. This can be really helpful for dogs that you know sitting still is too hard for. So those reactive dogs, I always tell people keep your dog moving. That's my rule. Keep the dog moving, keep the dog moving, keep them at a steady pace. Don't speed up, don't necessarily slow down, just keep the dog moving, keep their body moving. Moving, keeping their body moving is a good way to, you know, keep their mind like steady and focused. So walking drills can be huge for that. So just focus on rewarding the state of mind you'd like to see more of, and doing these exercises that foster the state of mind that you want, which, for a lot of people, is going to be a calmer dog. Now these are my lists of things that we can do better or things that we can do to be better so that our dogs can be better. And this is just coming from a place of things that have helped me. Again, as a self diagnosed crazy person, I have done a lot of time and research into figuring out how to live with my little brain. So these are things that I do personally and I think would be helpful for anybody to do. But, again, take what resonates and leave what doesn't. So meditation is obviously a huge part of my life. I don't really talk about it so much anymore because it's one of the last pieces of my life that is just for me. Like. It's very important for me to put myself on place basically every day to check in with my thoughts, to check in with myself, make sure that I'm okay, feel my body, feel myself, and just check in. I do it for 10 minutes, sometimes I do it for longer, sometimes I can only get five minutes in, but just doing whatever I can to check in with myself every day is huge because I think so often we're just rushing around from one thing to the next and we don't give ourselves that time and before we know it we're burnt out and we're tired and we don't know why, and it's because we haven't taken that time every single day to check in with us. So I practice mindfulness meditation. I focus on my breath. I'll also do some guided meditations sometimes, but I genuinely really enjoy just being there with myself. I don't necessarily need that guide. I've been meditating for a really long time now so it's easy for me to get into that state. I can just sit into it pretty naturally in this state and once you meditate for so long, you get into this euphoric state like genuinely, and sometimes it can be a little scary. I've been through a lot with meditation. It can get a little bit weird sometimes because it can literally feel euphoric or psychedelic or you're tripping a little bit. So I've been through the depths of meditation and now I'm just kind of on a maintenance routine for myself. I'm sure at some point I'll dive into it a little bit deeper again, but you know it is what it is. We're just, we're just on a maintenance schedule for right now. Another thing that I have to do every single day is I have to walk. I am literally no better than a dog. I have to take myself for a walk. I had to take myself for a walk right before this podcast. I'm actually supposed to be on the road right now and it's like 845 pm and I'm about to like drive to my dad's house for his birthday this weekend. But I had to go take myself for a walk before I sat down and did this podcast because I wasn't in the right state of mind to do it. I typically prefer my walks in the morning. However, it is summer here in Florida and it is hot as hell, and as soon as that sun comes up in the morning it is hot, and it's been way too hot to walk and I literally almost passed out the last time I tried to walk in the morning. So now I'm doing nightly walks or I take my walks after it rains, because it rains every single day here in Florida, or here in Orlando at least, and it's nice and cool after it rains. So that is like my go to time to walk. But I have to take myself for a walk every single day and I'm not just doing like a quick little walk, I'm going for like a 45 minute walk, like I am trekking across my neighborhood. Basically I will like walk to a gas station and, you know, sometimes I'll be like oh man, I feel like I'm wasting time, right, because I'm just walking. Most of the time. I'll have dogs with me, but I'm, like you know what? I am so much more productive when I walk and when I meditate. So, even though these things take time out of my day, they ultimately make me so much more productive. So that is one of my daily things that I have to do daily walks, love my walks. I can't wait for her to start cooling down so I can do my morning walks with my coffee again. Can't wait. All right. Another thing in this I touched on with the dogs eating whole foods. I do my best. I'm definitely not the epitome of health, but my goal is to always, like again, eat as natural as I possibly can, right? So you know, as far as the grocery store goes, I'm walking around the outer aisles. Do I eat potato chips? A thousand percent Candy is my favorite. I love candy. I always have candy. That's another thing. You know, like I'm gonna, I'm gonna have those things, but I would like a majority of my diet to come from whole food sources, because when I put good in, I get good out. So that's something that I definitely try to do and try to do for my dogs, even if you know I'm not able to eat the perfect diet. If I can just get some, you know, whole proteins or you know whole foods into my diet mixed in with the candy, then great, it's the same thing for my dogs, right? I can still feed them kibble, but I can give them you know, a little veggie blend or some blueberries or strawberries every now and then, just to give them that little, that little extra, whatever I can do. So do what works for you. Next, journaling Kili and I had a really cool conversation about journaling. She's been journaling for years and when I was over at her house she actually pulled out her old journals and you know we were kind of reading them and she's like this is so crazy because I have, you know, most of these things that I've that I wrote about in this journal. So I love journaling. Again, it's a great way to really get those thoughts out, get those anxious thoughts out. Get you know, get the thoughts out that are just kind of like racing through our minds all the time. It's good to get them on paper and to get it out of our head and it allows us to again have some perspective, to have some space between our thoughts and ourselves. We are not our thoughts. So journaling has allowed me to have that space and to also go back and look at the things that I wrote. So I kind of you know I mentioned that I have like a bit of manic, depressive stuff going on and you know, when I'm in those low places I can write about it and I can read back when I'm in that high place and I can know like, okay, look, I got out of it. You know I have evidence that I was in this place and I got out of it. Because sometimes when you're in that low it feels like you can't get out of it and that's that's what's so like suffocating, and that's what makes it so scary is it feels like it's never going to end. And you know sometimes being in that place can it can almost feel like dangerous, you know, for like your wellbeing. You know being in a low or being in a place where you're really anxious and you're having like panic attacks or whatever, like it's really scary because in that state you feel like it's never going to end and you feel like that's where you're always going to be. But if you can write out those thoughts and journal that for yourself, you can allow yourself to have some perspective and you can always go back and reflect and say like okay, I was in this really plate, really dark place and here I am now. Like I always get through it, I always come out on the other end and that has been extremely helpful for me, because sometimes I will get stuck in that. Or even when I'm in those highs and everything is really good. And you know, I do therapy every week and I talk to my therapist about this, of like oh, things have been so good, like I can't believe that they're this good, and she's like I'm so happy. You know this is a great time to like you know, remind yourself that like life comes with highs and lows, like you always come back to the highs, you know, and you feel like this and that's great and I'm like you know what you're right. So journaling has been huge in creating that space, creating that space of you know, I am not my thoughts, they don't have to control everything. I'm not my feelings, they don't have to control everything. And when we we can tap into that energy, we can control how we're showing up in the world, for ourselves, for those around us and for our dogs. So the last thing I have on my list is I take small moments for myself. For a long time. I would get into the place of, well, if I don't have, you know, 20 minutes to meditate, there's no point in even taking a break, right? Or I would be like, well, I'll give myself a break when I've finished all the things for the day, or I'll give myself a break when, you know, insert random thing. But the problem with that is you're just going to keep pushing yourself and pushing yourself and and you're already living up to it you just don't know what to do. Reach this place of, like burnout, or I have to take a break, right. But if you take small moments for yourself, you know, throughout your day, throughout your week, it doesn't have to be a vacation, it doesn't have to be, you know, a full day off. If you can take 20 minutes to just go and sit outside and just breathe for a little bit and you can come back inside and work your dog or, you know, do something, you're going to feel a lot better. And you know I'm definitely guilty of it. But I will make myself like productivity guilt right Like I'm not being productive, so I feel guilty about that. I feel like I should be doing something more productive, but taking care of yourself is literally the best thing that you can do. So if you can take 20 minutes here and there throughout your day to slow down and breathe, think about how much better you're going to show up for everyone around you, your dog included. So I really, really encourage you to do that. Just take, you know, five or 10 minutes here and there throughout your day. Go for a walk outside, take a breath, you know. Get a snack and just hang out. Just give yourself whatever you need to check in with yourself and give yourself just that moment of peace, because if you can do that for yourself, think about what you'll do for everybody else. So, to wrap things up, our dogs are mirrors. They are little emotional sponges. They are constantly taking in everything around them, ourselves included. And if we can really tap into ourselves and bring awareness to our thoughts and practice mindfulness in our day, we can show up for the people around us, the dogs around us and, most importantly, for ourselves. So a few little things that I have to do before I finish out this episode. If you are tuned in to me on Instagram, you may have seen but I did something very exciting this week. I actually set up our fulfillment center, which is just crazy. So one of my clients love her. Her name is Katie. She has a company called Distribution and they do distribution. So I was talking to her about my woes of fulfilling orders and trying to find somebody who can fulfill orders for us and she was like, oh my gosh, we have that, like we can do that. So I've been working really closely with her over the past probably six months ish to get her fulfilling our leash orders. So, with that being said, starting next Friday, august 4th, at 12pm Eastern Standard Time, we are opening the store back up and we will have shirts and leashes back in stock. I'm so excited. Yeah, we've been sold out of our leashes for quite some time. We are back in stock and hopefully we'll keep them in stock now that we have somebody who's able to do this full time for us, because I am a full time owner of a dog training business, so that is where all of my energy goes is to, you know, working with all of these dogs and training my trainers and doing all of that stuff. So, as much as I would love to keep fulfilling orders, I think for everybody's sake, for the orders that I'm losing, and it is my fault, y'all like if I've lost an order, I'm so sorry, it's literally my fault. It's nobody on my team's fault Like it's me. So I'm very sorry. But that's why I've been working so hard to get this fulfillment place set up is because I don't want to leave you all disappointed and I want to, you know, have these leashes available for you guys. Like these are the leashes that we give to our clients. It's the literally the only leashes that I use truly the only leashes that I use. So those will be restocked this Friday, august 4th, at 10pm Eastern Standard Time. This podcast is being published on the 22nd of August, so a week from today. Another really awesome thing is that we are now selling dog pacer treadmills Also amazing. I am considering doing like a little giveaway or like a little discount code or raffle or something. So stay tuned for that. But if you're interested in buying a dog pacer, so all of the treadmills that we literally have three we love dog pacer. We are dog pacer fangirls in this house, like my business would not run without those treadmills. Truly Excuse me, but if you are interested in buying a treadmill, those will also be up in our store this Friday, august 4th. So that's all I got for you this week. Thank you all, as always, so much for being here. Thank you so much for purchasing our leashes and supporting me on social media and listening to this podcast every week. If you genuinely enjoy it, please go and leave me a review. It means the world to me. If you don't, I can't emotionally handle it, so please don't be mean. All right, we will see you all next week again. Thank you so much.

Mindfulness and Dog Training
Healthy Lifestyle for Dogs and Owners
Nature and Nutrition for Dogs
Managing Dog Energy Levels With Light and Meditation
Teaching Calmness and Slowing Down
The Benefits of Journaling and Self-Care