Recently I started working with a new dog trainer. My dogs are great, but we kind of slacked with our younger dog, Willie, and needed some help. Willie came into our family during lockdown, so we didn’t do a good job of socializing him. Because of this, he tends to become skittish and fearful around new people, dogs, and situations.

Our trainer suggested having some of our sessions at parks or near downtown. This was so we could start getting Willie more comfortable being around bikes, adults, kids, noise, other dogs, etc.

So a couple of months ago, I took both dogs downtown for a session. It was a great day to be out. We met in an area where people were walking their dogs and kids were playing in the nearby fountain. There were plenty of new things to expose Willie to.

As we were hanging out in front of a coffee shop a man and his two dogs started walking in our general direction. He looked at my dogs and started to bring his dogs closer so they could say hi to one another. The interaction was brief. Willie did okay, but seemed a bit hesitant, like usual.

However, as soon as the man walked away my trainer gently pointed out how tense I got when the man approached with his dogs. As she was talking I immediately noticed that my shoulders were tense and that I had a tight hold on Willie’s leash.

She explained that my dogs were going to pick up on my energy. They are going to feel how tense I am when I pull back on the leash. She went on to encourage me to stay relaxed, and to keep my energy calm because it will help my dog’s energy stay calm.

I listened, while inside I had to laugh at myself for a moment. It made me think of the saying, Do what I say. Not what I do. 

It’s what I talk about all the time – how important it is to be in tune with our energy – how other people’s energy will affect us and how our energy will affect those around us.

Instead of getting upset with myself, I chose to see this interaction as a reminder that it takes practice to remember to tune into and connect to MY ENERGY all of the time – in all situations – with all people, places, and animals. 

It is okay that sometimes I forget and need to be reminded. I am not going to be perfect and that is okay.

Awareness is key!

If you need a reminder to be aware of your energy. Here are some tips to help you practice.

Start by being curious and observing how you feel throughout your day.

For example, check in first thing in the morning.

Are you feeling upbeat, down, sad, happy, excited, neutral, etc?

Then as you interact with others, do another quick check on how you are feeling.

Did your mood change or stay the same?

You’ll also want to check in before walking into stores, restaurants, different rooms, etc. 

Does your mood change or stay the same?

As you practice, you will quickly start to notice how and if your energy shifts around certain people, locations, or settings. Then you can make a conscious decision about the energy you bring to an interaction.

Willie has been doing better in different situations. He is still timid, but as I relax my energy, he has gotten braver. He has let more and more strangers come up to him and is letting them pet him (for a moment) – which is progress.

An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.” Mahatma Ghandi