Pip can often be heard to say these magic words whenever I’m asking a horse to do something and am not being heard. It is still amazing to me that putting the energy and intention of ‘meaning it!’ behind the action has such different results!
The wonderful thing about this is that it is not a rule exclusive to horses.
I have a two year old Bullmastiff. He was a very dominant pup and when he was 5 months old I enlisted the help of a dog trainer. I am always being complimented now on what a lovely dog he is and how well behaved he is. That said on walks he is very strong. It’s like having a hippo on a lead! I ended up having to use a ‘Halti’ to get him to heel. When he is off the lead he runs on ahead and has a lovely time altogether. Great for him but not for me especially when we happen upon other dogs and horses as he is already up front and not under my control.
So I took what I have learned from Pip with regard to horses and applied it to my dog. I pictured him walking to heel in my mind and sure enough he started walking happily beside me. Out on our walk today I owned my space and the space either side of me. He could sniff the bushes to his hearts content but he had to do it behind me! Gandalf and his ‘Thou shalt not pass’ had nothing on me on my dog walk today!!!! It was a very different experience. No longer will my dog walks be an opportunity to phone a friend and take in the view. I now understand that they are a time to connect with my dog, lead the walk and boy does it feel good! He loved it too. We are no longer two sentient beings sharing the same space…….we are connected!
Achieving this outcome using my energy, intention and body language, instead of trying to bribe him with dog treats, was hugely rewarding and great for my dog too! He's overweight and Pip pointed out that by giving him treats with his dog food I was killing him with kindness. To spoil our dogs we do not need to use food. Food is not love! To be a better owner we need to be connected to our animals, be their leader and keep them safe from harm. That is truly being loving to our pets.