#5 Count the good.
This blog is the fifth and final in a series of relaxation techniques that Canine Comprehension teach to students. To be able to do this at home you need to make sure your dog can hold a close drop and will relax while being brushed.
In this last exercise, all you have to do is notice. Notice and appreciate. Choose one person, place or thing in your life and hold it in your mind. I want you to make a list in your head, a list of all the reasons why that person, place or thing is important to you. The point of this exercise is to simply give thanks and appreciate the seemingly insignificant things in life; the things that support our existence but rarely get a second thought in our desire for bigger and better things.
We are going to appreciate someone our something important in our life and we are going to look at the most minute detail.
I’m going to appreciate a dog:
I love the way they wag their tails when they see you, or if you talk to them. I like how it makes me feel as though I am part of their family. Accepted, trusted, and loved.
I enjoy being able to pat their fur. Taking long strokes down their body feels nice and warm. It makes me happy when they react positively and lean on me or try to get closer.
I like taking them on a walk with me. I feel safer when they are with me. Strangers smile at me more when I have a dog by my side and I get a happy feeling when I know they are enjoying their walk.
Now you have a go at comprising a list of things you love about a person, a place or a thing…
For example: your best friend, your bedroom or your favourite shoes…
#4 Mindful movement.
This blog is the forth in a series of relaxation techniques that Canine Comprehension teach to students. To be able to do this at home you need to make sure your dog can hold a close drop and will relax while being brushed.
The purpose of this exercise is to focus on a small exercise and enjoy the detail of the simple task rather than rushing from task to task. Rather than rushing our tasks and wanting to finish an everyday task in order to get on with doing something else, we will take that regular routine and fully experience it in detail.
For example: if you are cleaning up your room think about every detail of this task. As you pick things up off the floor take a moment to appreciate the movement of bending down, taking your item in your hand and putting it in it's rightful place. As you fold your clothes and put them away, appreciate the texture of the fabric, the neat look as they go away into your closet. Once you have a tidy room, smile, take a deep breath and smile. Take a moment to appreciate how nice it feels to have everything in its rightful place.
We are going to do this today by brushing the dog. Think about every movement you make. Take the brush and start at the dogs head, watch their reaction. Sweep the brush in long strokes down the dogs back. Watch your hand, the hair and the bristles of the brush while you are doing this. Place your hand gently on the dog’s foot and brush their legs. Think about how the fur moves differently on their legs than on their back.
I’m going to let you brush the dog how you wish. Concentrate on the action, stay in the moment and feel yourself start to relax and let the everyday worries drift away as you are lost in the moment. Instead of labouring through and constantly thinking about finishing the task, become aware of every step and fully immerse yourself in the progress. Take the activity beyond a routine by aligning yourself with it physically, mentally and spiritually. Who knows, you might even enjoy the cleaning for once!
Release the dog by saying ‘free’ in a happy voice and give them a pat.
#3 Enjoy the day to day.
This blog is the third in a series of relaxation techniques that Canine Comprehension teach to students. To be able to do this at home you need to make sure your dog can hold a close drop under the distraction of you patting it.
This exercise is designed to cultivate our students appreciation of simple daily tasks and the results they achieve. Often our students don't see the importance of planning or writing a 'to do' list. This exercise reminds us of the positive feelings we can get from being organised.
Think about how you felt when you first greeted the dog this morning. What did it feel like when you patted the dog for the first time today? Did it evoke a memory? Does it evoke a memory now? Take a moment to think about this.
Now give the dog long slow strokes down its body. Feel their fur, their breathing, their reaction to your touch. Think about how you feel right now in this moment. You pat the dog all the time, but when was the last time you really thought about it? Hold on to that feeling, focus on it for as long as your concentration will allow.
Now let's think about routine in our lives. Think of something that happens every day more than once; something you take for granted, like opening a door, for example. At the very moment you touch the doorknob to open the door, stop for a moment and be mindful of where you are, how you feel in that moment and where the door will lead you. Or, the moment you look at your phone, take a moment to appreciate the technology that enables you to communicate with others through it and the brain that facilitates your understanding of how to use the phone.
These touch point cues don’t have to be physical ones. For example: each time you think a negative thought you might choose to take a moment to stop, label the thought as unhelpful and release the negativity. Or, perhaps each time you eat chocolate, you take a moment to stop and appreciate how lucky you are to have such a sweet, tasty treat.
Now go back to patting your dog. What is it you love about this dog? Why do you appreciate it? How does it make you feel? Take some time thinking about the ways this animal makes you smile and why.
Once you have finished let your dog get up from their drop and give the a hug.
# 2 Watch and connect.
This blog is the second in a series of relaxation techniques that Canine Comprehension teach to students. To be able to do this at home, your dog needs to be able to wander around calmly off lead.
Our students spend a great deal of time with technology. They can often find it difficult to reconnect with the natural world. This exercise is simple but beautifully powerful. It's aim is to connect our students with the beauty of the natural environment, something that is easily missed when they are bombarded with social media. We do this in a classroom or out on an oval, however to do this at home you can simply let your dog wander around the garden or living room.
Sit comfortably and start by focusing on the dog wandering around or lying down. Focus on simply watching your dog for a minute or two. Don’t do anything except notice the dog’s body language. Simply relax into a harmony for as long as your concentration allows. Look at the dog as if you are seeing it for the first time. Visually explore every aspect of its formation. Allow yourself to be consumed by its presence. Allow yourself to connect with its energy and its role and purpose in the natural world.
As your thoughts start to wander remind yourself to reconnect with watching the dog and taking in their movement. Watch their shape. Focus on the smaller details of the dog. Their nails, their feet, their legs, belly, back, tail, head, ears, mouth and eyes. Hold this focus for as long as your wish.
Once you have finished call the dog over and give them a pat or hug.
This blog is the first in a series of relaxation techniques that Canine Comprehension teach to students. To be able to do these at home your dogs needs to be able to hold a drop command under distraction.
We want our students to be aware of not just what they are staying to each other, but how they are saying it. Our words, our body language and our tone of voice all contribute to our communication. When we run group classes we often discuss communication and mindfulness. To be aware of good communication, you first have to be aware. Relaxation techniques allow our students to live in the moment and be more mindful of the world around them and their contribution to it.
One relaxation exercise that you can do with your dog is a simple one called: Matching Breaths.
First put both your hands on the dog and feel their ribs moving up and down. Try and watch your hands moving up and down with the dog’s chest. Try and match your breathing to the dogs breathing. Match your breath with theirs and count ten breaths.
Now take your hands away from the dog and take 10 deep breaths in and out. Start by breathing in and out slowly. One cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body. Take 10 of these breaths. Now place your hands back on the dog’s body, and using your relaxed state of mind let the dog feel your breathing and your body relax through your hands.
With your hands on the dog take 10 more slow breaths.
Let go of your thoughts for a minute. Let go of all of the concerns, all of the things you have to do...all of your daily thoughts. Simply let yourself be still for one minute. Purposefully watch your dogs breath, focusing your senses on its pathway as it enters the dogs body and fills them with life, and then watch it work its way up and out of their mouth as its energy dissipates into the world.
Now take your hands off the dog and enjoy the feeling of being relaxed.
Release your dog from the drop position, give them a hug and enjoy feeling calmer.
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