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In what we hope will be the last month of the pandemic associated with social distancing, we have a special challenge for all of us who live with and care for pets.
I was going to keep this dog-related before considering that all pets could benefit from each of us rethinking how we work with and live with our amazing animals. Our challenge is this: Take your dog (or cat or guinea pig or horse, etc) on a “date”; this isn’t a walk or a training outing, it’s a ‘friend date’. We want you to show up as your best self and listen and watch and learn about your pet. This isn’t the time to train or direct, it’s a time to learn. We forget about first dates after they’re done. First dates are all about learning about this other being we are out and about with during that time period. So often, we see people training, correcting, dragging a dog off a scent, hurrying a cat into the house, directing a horse to the barn and off that patch of grass that’s so yummy. During this month, when you’re on your ‘date’, stop all that.
We would like to challenge you to do these four things:
Your challenge criteria:
LEARN: When was the last time you realized you learned something from your pet? When is the last time you considered that they know this world from a VERY different perspective and have to navigate in our flawed human world with our weird social etiquette, ever-changing, terribly inconsistent language, rules, criteria, and inflection? How would you manage?
Consider all this and plan your date accordingly – like if you know your dog doesn’t love other dogs, don’t go out on a busy trail where you know their stress levels and yours will increase. Think about how this date should go so you can learn the most from and with your pet. As they move about on this date, don’t drag them away from sniffing a spot or from stopping and turning suddenly or from rolling in something ‘yummy’ just let your thoughts of baths come and go – you’ll find this incredibly meditative as this lesson unfolds. Animals are insanely intuitive, and such phenomenal teachers and, we in our hurried and rather selfish lives overlook their wisdom and grace daily.
Note what you learn on these dates.
WATCH. Watch them explore, and watch their body language as you go on with your day or evening.
What can you learn from simply watching how they gather information?
It only matters that you are the best version of this friend date you can be. This exercise is not about you. This is a ‘gather as much information as you can about your pet’ so drop the stress of your day and focus solely on your friend date with your pet.
Note what you see and how they gather information.
DIGEST. As you go through your date time, really take in all you are learning and seeing from your animal. Even if you don’t understand it, consider what questions you had come up with or where body language changed for certain reasons, or where the pace picked up or lagged during your time out. Were you inclined to do what you wanted and how did you combat that? This is a time to consider how we hurry them along in our world, ignore their simple asks, and take for granted that it’s easy for them to navigate our unfair world b/c we taught them to ‘sit’ in a living room in a familiar environment with hands-on them and a treat over their head while we frantically muttered ‘siiiiittttt’ multiple times. Consider how you learn and how not specialized or skilled we are when we communicate with animals. How we humanize them and how unfair that is and think how we are learning quite a bit without issuing a cue or a correction or whatever else we typically do. Dogs, and animals, are incredibly fair. They’re pretty skilled with their language and giving us signals… how many signals did you see on your date? Do you remember what they were? Do you know the body cues and signals animals give?
Note body cues and signals and what you learned about your date.
CONSIDER. After your date is over, think about the next ‘first date’ with your pet and how that will go and make it a regular occasion. We ask a lot of our pets, and we’re inconsistent and unskilled for the most part. They navigate as they have to, or how they learn to, and consider how you contribute to how they live in our world. Are they enriched? Are they getting the attention they deserve? Do you celebrate the wins? How do you teach? Most of us will struggle with this first date because we’ll want to dictate the pace of the day or evening, we’ll want to move like we want to, and we don’t understand why animals do what they do.
What can you do differently going forward? How can you make life better for your animals? How do they signal you? How can you convey your understanding of them to them? How can you become more consistently kind and fair with your methods of explaining what you’d like to see from them?
Here at LIX, we have various breeds of dogs, various types of pets, and our customers have a myriad of animals in their care.
We work with behaviorists, trainers, and vets; we study the space we are in, so we can contribute healthfully to pet’s lives. We see an out of balance society, out of balance understanding, and most of the time, in society, we and our pets are out of balance. LIX is here to help attain that balance with our carefully crafted CBD line – we can help bring the endocannabinoid system to a more balanced state thus allowing the rest of the body to act instead of overreacting. We’ll contribute what we can for the overall life balance we want for all animals and their people.
Happy Heart Month to all!