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The Dog Whisperer
A few nights ago I saw Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, at the John Labatt Centre here in London. While watching the hottest pet guru out there speak about dog training actually being about training humans, I started thinking about how my dog trained me.
In my previous post I wrote about how getting a pug almost five years ago broke me out of my prison of social anxiety. It got me out of the house and decreased the stress of being around other people by breaking the ice with pug snorts and smiles. Listening to Cesar Millan’s talk, however, made me realize that in order to train my dog I had to learn to be a confident and assertive person first, or “Be the Pack Leader.” Leading my dog meant that I had to make choices and stick with them, and hope for the best result. I couldn’t sit around doubting my abilities to be a dog trainer because Milo was going to pee on the floor unless I directed him outside. I had to trust my gut and hope for the best, and soon I realized that I had a pretty well trained dog! I proved to myself that I could learn how to do something and actually succeed. And if I didn’t succeed, well, only a puppy was there as my witness and puppies don’t judge!
Cesar Millan said that no dog cares about his world renowned status as a dog trainer. They simply feel his calm assertive energy and feel at ease. Animals – especially pets - don’t think about the past or the future, they just exist in the present moment. What a relief! With my anxiety, I was so stuck in my head that I’d spend forever chasing around the “should haves” and “could haves”, and berating myself for not being “good enough” to proceed in my life. Milo loves me for me, right here and right now.
In order to train Milo, I had to develop a calm presence and be assertive so he could be confident in me being the leader. As I said before, my anxiety used to be really really bad and being assertive was a difficult task. I didn’t think I deserved to stick up for myself because my self wasn’t all that great. Stand up for a puppy, though? WAY easier! And the coolest part about it is that it did teach me to stand up for myself, in a non-direct way.
This has got me thinking about other things in life. Instead of being so hard on myself for not knowing how to do something, maybe I can look at it with my dog’s lack of judgment. Focus on being in the moment, stay grounded and assertive. The calm manner I learned to use with Milo helped me in so many other areas of my life. What investment in one thing could you make to help you in multiple areas of your life? Sometimes starting something small can lead to big results, one step at a time.
Erin Schulthies is the writer of Daisies and Bruises, a blog about "finding her way one step and one word at a time". After losing most of her youth to severe depression, she decided that since death was no longer an option, she had to find a way to live. This is it.
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