The seasons have changed again, to spring in the north and fall in the south — the two seasons that best show us the cycle of Nature. In spring, plants turn green again, birds return, and flowers bloom. In fall, leaves change color, birds migrate to warmer climates, and we harvest what we’ve grown,
Of course, this is a lot more visible if you’re living in the country. If you’re in a big city, it can be hard to see any changes in Nature. But don’t worry. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably got a perfect reminder or two at home.
That reminder is your dog. Dogs are always in touch with Nature, whether they live in a wild pack or a New York penthouse. They live in an instinctual world, always in the moment, and if we learn to listen to them, we can learn to get back in touch with Nature and our instincts no matter where we are.
The important part here is listening, but you can’t listen to what a dog tells you with your ears or intellect. You have to do it with your heart and spirit, which will eventually lead you to that instinctual place where communication is easy and honest. To do it, you have to stop thinking in “human,” and start experiencing in “dog.”
You can begin this process by just observing your dog, but with one important condition. As you watch, don’t try to figure out why she’s doing what she’s doing. Turn off the narration in your head and resist the urge to attribute human emotions or thoughts to your dog’s actions.
Go ahead and give your dog a treat, or play fetch with him, or just observe as he wanders around the house. Pay attention to his body language, the things he seems interested in, or seems bored with, or suddenly alerts to. If you have more than one dog, watch how they interact with each other.
Don’t try to figure it out. Don’t try to describe it. Just watch.
If your dog approaches you seeming to want something, don’t say a word. Just experience in the moment how your dog is trying to communicate her needs to you. If you pay attention and don’t attribute motives to your dog, you’ll be surprised at how quickly and how obviously she makes her needs known through her movements and body language.
Is your dog squirming around anxiously and looking at the door? He probably needs to go do his business. Is he glancing in one direction and then at you? Whatever he’s looking at is what he wants. Is he nudging you or trying to push your arm away from the computer? He wants attention.
And your dog asks you for all of those things without saying a word. When you listen with your instincts, then you get the right message. Where we get it wrong is when we try to use only our intellects to understand what our dogs are saying. For example, the dog is running around excitedly, so that must mean she wants to play, right? In that case, you don’t figure out what the real message was until she suddenly pees all over the floor.
Once you’ve learned to read your dog without thinking about it, learn to experience the world the way your dog does — in the moment, and without judgement. Now go outside on this beautiful spring or fall day, take your dog for a walk, and enjoy Nature the way your dog does: by just being.
Stay calm, and think in “dog.”
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