I can already hear you saying, "What is she yapping about THIS time!", or "Oh no, is she talking about letting my dog rule my life or be the leader of my household! NEVER!"
Alright, now calm down. I promise, this is a bit of advice that everyone should be open to, regardless of their opinions on dog training otherwise.
Quite simply: allow your dog the opportunity to make you happy.
"…Santos, that doesn't help."
Let me explain.
With both Dog Sport University and Scent Work University, I am tied to my computer. A lot. As in all day long, practically 7 days a week. There is always a mountain of work to be done. This is not a complaint by any means, it is merely a fact. Owning, launching and running two new business simultaneously, both of which are 100% technology-based, requires tons of work and hours. I knew this going in, and it fits into my personality of being a shut-in and a workaholic quite nicely. However, there are things such a vitamin D and sunshine one should concern themselves with as well.
Least I forget the countless technology gremlins who creep up on a daily basis, with devious ideas on how they can cause mischief on any given day. Suffice it to say, the stress levels can get rather high.
"What does this have to do with dogs?!"
My boy knows when it is time for us to go outside. To see the sun. To play with his purple. For him to run and frolic and act like a complete and total loon. Now, mind you, when he comes up with these brilliant ideas – and they are truly brilliant – I am less then receptive…and that is putting it kindly.
I am in work mode. This ((fill in the blank)) must get done. Go on, little dog, entertain thyself, mother must finish this!
Yet he persists, albeit politely. He will sit in front of me and just stare, as if to say, "Mother, you need to take a break."
Extremely begrudgingly, I will get up and go out with him, in a rather foul mood for being interrupted.
What will happen now…I wasn't finished. Will I ever get all these projects done? Something could break without me knowing…what will I do then…
About a minute and a half later, the boy is leaping and bounding from one end of the yard to another, tossing his toys here and there and everywhere. This is when I begin to feel a weight being lifted off of me. It is impossible not to smile at him as he does his ridiculous Dober-gymnastics, remarkably without injuring himself.
In total, it takes roughly 3 or 4 minutes for me to realize he was absolutely right. I needed a break. I needed to be reminded why I am working so hard in the first place. For him. For his joy. For our joy.
"…That is a nice story and all, but what does this have to do with me?"
See if your dog is offering you opportunities to be more joyful throughout the day. For instance, on your walks, are you smelling the flowers, taking in nature and giving yourself a chance to recharge? Or, are you rushing ahead in a feeble attempt to tick one more thing off of your to-do list?
Do you give yourself a moment to just sit back and pet your dog at the end of the night? Or are you tied to a smartphone, tablet, or computer?
Have you ever carved out 10 to 15 minutes of your jam-packed day to do a fun training session that is laced with games, play and excitement? If for nothing else, than to see your dog contently nap afterwards?
Life is stressful. There is always too much to do. Too much to be worried about. Time is fleeting and the hours will rush by.
Unbeknownst to you, you've had a secret weapon this entire time. A four-legged furry creature who is happy to help you refocus your attention on the moment, on what is really important. Doing so can help refill your tank so you can actually tackle everything life tries to throw at you.
So I ask again, have you allowed your dog to lead you to happiness?
Author: Dianna L. Santos, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, CNWI
Dianna has been training dogs professionally since 2011. She has done everything from teaching group training classes and private lessons, to specializing in working with fearful, reactive and aggressive dogs, to being a trial official and competition organization staff member.
Following a serious neck and back injury, Dianna was forced to retire from in-person dog training. But she was not ready to give up her passion! So, she created Pet Dog U, Dog Sport University and Scent Work University to provide outstanding online dog training to as many dog handlers, owners and trainers possible…regardless of where they live! Dianna is incredibly grateful to the amazingly talented group of instructors who have joined PDU, DSU and SWU and she looks forward to the continued growth of PDU, DSU and SWU and increased learning opportunities all of these online dog training platforms can provide.
In June 2021, Dianna and her business partner, Sean McMurray launched Cyber Scent Work, Inc., an organization that operates in the gray space between training and trialing in Scent Work. With Cyber Scent Work, Inc., handlers have the opportunity to earn Qs, titles and ribbons while also receiving helpful training advice regardless of whether they qualify or not! Be sure to check out Cyber Scent Work, Inc., you will be happy you did!