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  • Richard Chan

Be the Role model of Zen

When l try to help a dog who struggles with pulling massively, l don’t usually start by “how do we correct the pulling with the leash/Ecollar?” or “how do we redirect his attention with food/praise/toy...?” I usually focus on this question first: “how do we nurture the proper state of mind so he can relax and stay calm walking next to me right from the start?” If he knows how to ”place”, you can show him how to get into that “place” state of mind when he is walking next to your leg. A dog whose mind is in “place” will not be frantically trying to pull. This is a much less confrontational way to stop the pulling because it is about showing him how much more relaxing and secured it feels when he stays next to you. If it takes 15 minutes for your dog to settle down, please don’t just accept it as a norm and expect him to pull during that first 15 minutes. Please don’t just say to yourself, “he is going to slow down when he is tired. That’s the way he is. I will just wait him out.” You should slow everything down. Your slow movement can turn that 15 minutes into 10 then 5 then 3 then 30 seconds... The slower you move, the faster your dog can slow down his mind, and the shorter time he will need to settle down. When you slow down your movement, you also slow down your own breathing and calm down your own emotion, which helps you to look deeper into yourself, and less on the “problem”. What l mean is rather than fixating on “why does he keep pulling?” “how do l stop it right now?” and let that stress you and frustrate you, you can focus more on yourself — focus on being the role model of your dog; focus on guiding your dog with your own controlled energy. When you are slowing everything down, you can get yourself into a mental zen state. You will be in a “place” - like mental state yourself. You are not only asking your dog to mentally “place”; you are mentally “placed” as well. You will be leading your dog with your energy and showing your dog what kind of mental state you want him to be in. You are being the calm guidance of your dog - not only physically (walk next to me), but also mentally (be zen like me). You can be reactive to your dog, or you can offer your dog guidance. You can be a follower, or a leader. If you get frustrated or if you just resign to letting your dog pull you, you are being reactive to your dog - you are reacting to what you dog does. You are a follower as you are following your dog’s physical, and most importantly, mental state. Your dog needs a leader. A leader is a role model. A role model is not someone who follows an inappropriate behaviour; a role model is one who sets a proper example and inspires others to follow. By demonstrating to your dog the proper mindset and movement (be slow, patient, attentive, and zen), you can be your dog’s role model during not only the walk but in other aspects of your everyday life. You will represent serenity, safety, calmness, and peace. You will represent something your dog loves and desires, and your dog will be inspired by you as his role model and love to follow you.


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