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International mind-body wellness day

Today is international mind-body wellness day. For some of you, this may be the first time that you have been made aware of this day. For others, you may have heard of it before.

For those that are unfamiliar with the day, it is a day where you look into the effects the mind has on the body and the body on the mind.

The mind-body relationship is a powerful one, but we have the ability, through choice, to make beneficial changes to our mind-body relationship. For example, we know and experience energy slumps and mood swings if we eat crap foods and skip meals. We can therefore be more mindful of the types of food we eat and ensure we do not skip meals.

But what does this day have to do with dogs, I hear you ask?

I will get to that bit shortly, but first, for you to understand the connection, we need to look at ourselves.

As an owner of a reactive dog, you can often feel fatigued, stressed, lonely, isolated, judged, and so on.

International mind-body wellness day is the perfect time to think about you. What do you do for yourself? What do you do to help de-stress and reset? What can you do to help with your energy levels? Do you have a support network? Do you get enough sleep? There are of course many other questions we can ask ourselves. These are just some examples.

But why is this important? Why should we be asking ourselves these questions?

For a moment, I would like you to think about how you function when burnt out or overwhelmed. My guess is that you cannot function. You cannot think clearly, small problems and challenges seem monumental, and you can not think rationally or clearly enough to see a way through them. You then enter the darkness.

What effect does this state of mind have on coping with your dog's reactive behaviour when out on a walk? Do you get angry? Break down in tears, start a verbal war with the other dog walker? I assume whatever you do, your reaction is a negative one and possibly out of context in relation to the circumstances. You have just become reactive! This does not help your situation, as I am sure you have experienced. In most cases, it just escalates the issue.

Let us now look at our reactive dogs. Things like environment, lifestyle changes, relationship dynamics between dog-human and multi-dog households, training history, medical status, medication, diet, pain and much more can be contributing factors affecting your dog's overall well-being. This makes it difficult for them to cope with things that they find challenging or difficult, just like us.

So use today as an opportunity to think about your overall well-being and that of your dogs. When it comes to helping your dog, you are unable to do so if you yourself are a mess.

Take today to look at areas of your own life and that of your dogs. What triggers can be removed completely or reduced? For yourself, you may choose to take some pressure off by asking other members of the family to help with the walks or household chores, so you have more time to dedicate to your dog. You may simply benefit from adding some vitamin supplements to your diet or ensuring you drink more water and less coffee.

There are so many things that we can do, that do not take up extra time or mean expending more energy but can make a world of difference to how we feel and handle situations on a daily basis.



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