Energy Awareness and Dogs
About 1.5 years ago, when my Romanian Rescue dog Tramp was still in his delinquent adolescent phase 🙂 something happened that was the equivalent of being smacked in the face with a big book of understanding! This has now become a huge part of not just my life with dogs, but my life in general.
So following the recent publication of my 2nd book on Amazon, Human – Canine Emotive Energy Balancing co-written with my dear friend and colleague Janeen Warman of Human Hound Healing, I thought I would share it with you.
I was obviously already aware of how much our energy state can affect our dogs, hence we were writing a book about it! 🙂 … but what happened that morning really cemented the whole concept for me. It proved to me just how significantly our emotional energy can impact on our dogs and their behaviour in both positive and negative ways.
As we were out on our usual morning walk, everything was the same as any other morning. Sky was playing with me with her ball and Tramp was in and out of the bushes looking for interesting smells and creatures. Now around this time, Tramp had developed a wonderful and strange behaviour of chasing birds, but not birds on the ground, which is quite common of course, no, Tramp had to be weird and chase birds that were flying REALLY high up in the sky!
This behaviour was random. He didn’t chase every bird, in fact if a bird flew over at quite a low height, he didn’t seem bothered by them, it was when they were higher in the sky and looked really quite small, but even then, he didn’t chase every single one. So as you can imagine, this wasn’t an easy behaviour to work on with him. For one thing it was impossible to synthetically re-create the scenario in order to modify his behaviour. It was also impossible to control the birds in order to provide controlled setup situations. I did try asking them to fly over at a certain height at 5 minute intervals so I could work with Tramp, but clearly my affinity with dogs does not transfer to birds!
So I was working to use our ‘Leave it’ exercise and apply it to the bird situation as best I could, and we were actually making pretty good progress, but this particular morning we weren’t teaching and he was off lead and mooching. Now I have to confess at this point, that my mood was not the best. I had some stresses going on and had not slept particularly well, so whilst I was by no means in a ‘bad’ mood, I certainly wasn’t overflowing with the joys of spring. If I had to explain it in words, I would probably say I was low on energy and feeling a bit fed up.
Just to be clear, the area where we walk is a huge field completely surrounded by woods and the closest road is about a mile away. Tramp had never chased a bird at any other location, nor had he ever chased one continuously to the point where he went out of sight, but he would chase it the length of this huge field. This meant he was a very long way away from me and could run into other kinds of problems, like other dog walkers or woodland creatures, so it was definitely a behaviour I wanted to get a handle on.
Inevitably on this morning when my mood was not the best and I was not at my sharpest, Tramp chose to take off in hot pursuit of a little black dot in the sky. Once he’s off and running, there’s nothing that’s going to stop him, so I didn’t waste my breath. As soon as he began to slow down, I called him, and he came back, which of course is great. I praised him emphatically, rewarded him for returning and we continued on our walk.
A couple more birds flew over, although Tramp didn’t bother with them, but then off he went again randomly after another one, same scenario. He chased this bird flat out to the other side of the field, which to give you an idea is probably about 30-40 acres in size, so he’s a long way from me! As his pace began to slow down, I called and he came back.
Now this happened twice more over the next 10 minutes, some birds he ignored, but then he’d randomly go again. As he set off in hot pursuit for the fourth time, I’d had enough. I felt like a failure, I felt like I was letting him down, I felt like my incompetence was putting him in danger, I was annoyed at him, but much more so, I was annoyed at myself.
Now, I never said a word. I walked off in the opposite direction, I didn’t call him I simply walked away, but I was cross. I knew he would come back when he was done and saw me walking away from him. So because I was aware that my energy had shifted into being very negative, I decided it was best not to speak at that point. I checked over my shoulder to make sure he was coming, which he was, but I continued walking back to where the car was parked.
Now anyone that has seen any of my videos of me walking with my dogs will know that Sky is never more than 15-20ft from me. She is always bouncing around closeby, checking in or playing ball. She continuously drops the ball for me, or brings it for a game of tug.
As I walked along, in my cross little energy bubble, I realised Sky had not brought me the ball, and wasn’t bouncing around me. I turned to see her laid down off to my left about 40-50ft away, just watching me. She did get up and trot along as I moved away from her, but she stayed at that distance from me, moving along parallel with me, but not coming near me. Tramp had returned from his blast across the field, but he was following me, a looooong way behind. Normally he would be bouncing in and out of the bushes or annoying Sky while she tries to play ball, but he was literally just walking along, following me, but keeping his distance.
As I reached the bottom of the field, there is a track we usually walk along back to the car with a little narrow strip of woodland on one side, and giant stone boulders on the other, forming a boundary along the field. Normally, Tramp would be in and out of the woods and up onto the boulders investigating everything, but he just continued to follow me along the track. He was walking at a slow but steady pace and kept his distance, a good 40ft behind me. Sky was doing the same, but in the field walking parallel to me. I still hadn’t said a word.
As I arrived back at the car, I opened the boot at which point Sky would normally be jumping in, but she was sat in the field with her ball. Tramp would normally be in the strip of woodland opposite the car, attempting to make the walk last as long as possible, but he was still 40ft back along the track, just sitting on a boulder looking at me.
I called Sky, and she came and hopped into the boot. I called Tramp, in my usual pleasant voice and gave him the visual cue for ‘here’, but he just sat looking at me from his boulder. At this point, I was no longer cross about the events of the walk, but I was still cross with myself for getting cross! Talk about beat yourself up… so yes, us teachers do that too. I instantly knew he didn’t want to come to me because I was quite literally repelling him with the cloud of dark, negative energy that was wrapped around me.
I stood and I breathed deeply, I let all my negative energy drop away. As I stood there taking deep breaths and allowing my whole body to relax, soften and ‘let go’ I could literally feel the negative energy drop out of me. It almost felt like, if I had looked down, I might have seen it as a puddle at my feet.
After just a minute of doing this, I took a step outwards away from the car, turned to face Tramp, gave the same visual cue for him to come and he leapt off the boulder and ran to me. I didn’t even get a chance to give a verbal cue, the change in him was instantaneous, not only because he ran to me but because he was instantly soft and ‘open’ rather than tense and aloof as he had been moments before.
Needless to say there was a good 5 minutes of group hugs and I’m sorry’s at that point, and we went back onto the field for another walk round, to make up for me ruining it for everyone with my shitty energy!
For me, this experience was incredibly profound. It’s actually quite hard to explain in words the transformation I saw in Tramp that morning as he sat on that boulder, the impact my conscious shift in energy state had on him, his behaviour and how he felt.
Whilst the concept of energy awareness is of course not a method of teaching dogs, it is definitely something that plays an influential part and has a major impact on not just teaching them, but on our everyday interactions and relationships with them. In the same way, it’s worth remembering, it also impacts on our interactions and relationships with other people in our lives and indeed all species we interact with.
As you can imagine, this experience massively fuelled my desire to write the book I had started with Janeen. To bring into awareness everything we already knew and everything we went on to learn about this very deep and often subconscious aspect of our relationships with our dogs. To share it with dog guardians everywhere so they might deepen their own relationships with their dogs and use the understanding it brings to live the most amazingly connected life possible with these incredible souls who can teach us so much.
A dogs first language is body language and energy. They live almost continually by this energy, they feel it and respond to it instinctively. We believe Emotive Energy Balancing is something that everyone could benefit from developing a greater understanding of, and we have personally found it to be highly effective, enlightening and uplifting both within our own relationships with our dogs, and when we are working with clients.
‘Your dog is a living, feeling emotional being,
just like you, but different’
Human-Canine Emotive Energy Balancing – Communicating & Teaching with Energy Awareness is available to buy on Amazon Here if you would like to understand more about how your energy can affect your dogs and their behaviour and how you can learn techniques that will help you not only recognise and control your own energy states, but influence your dogs at the same time.
The aim of Emotive Energy Balancing is to approach ‘dog training’ not just based on teaching or changing your dogs behaviours, but by treating you both as one whole, unified symbiotic relationship , using human psychology as well as canine psychology to create a harmonious partnership.
Just to let you know, Tramp no longer chases the birds high in the sky but it has taken us a long time to reduce the behaviour to a point where it’s almost been eliminated (we have the odd slip but it’s very rare these days.) He does however continue to present me with weird and wonderful challenges now and again, which although can be trying at times, because they’re nearly always random in as much as they lack consistency to the trigger, I have to (quietly) admit I am grateful for his strange ways because I learn more, look deeper and it encourages me to think outside the box and all of this makes me a better teacher.
So as I know there are many followers of this website and my books and articles who are the proud guardians of Romanian Rescue Dogs, be assured that as wonderful as these dogs are, and they are, you are not alone if you find them confusing at times, frustrating at others and sometimes just downright challenging in their ways (I’m sure they would say the same about us!) They don’t do it on purpose, they are there to teach you and encourage you to look deeper and as you learn you will be hugely rewarded.