Welcome to Day 4 of #100daysofenrichment and thank you for joining us on this journey!
Although our challenges are directed mainly at dogs, we want all species to enjoy and benefit from #100daysofenrichment so, please join in, adjust and adapt to help your pet or companion live a more enriched life.
Today, there’s no big plans or training exercises. Today, we are dialing it way back and hanging out.
Learning to just be is not necessarily a skill that comes to most pet dogs easily, and indeed to many people. Just being is a lost art; in the age of smart phones and on-demand entertainment, we don’t have to be very often or for very long.
But, this is such an important skill for companion animals, who, at the whim of their humans, must be able to be in environments that don’t always cater for their natural tendencies.
Find your happy place
What do you like to do together?
Where do you like to go together?
Where and when you both can just be. You don’t have to be engaged in any particular activity, just be. Together.
There are no training cues or food rewards, or even toys, required. No smart phones for the humans, no thoughts about what you should be doing.
Be calm and quiet. Sit close or just in one another’s presence.
You don’t have to touch. Humans are tactile, we grip and use our fingers. Dogs are not so much into that. They don’t need petting, touching or grabbing to be.
Dogs often like to lean or touch off one another’s bodies. They might lie back to back, or they might spoon.
Dogs and other companion animals must learn how to be around people and people-goings-on. Dogs gain these skills by being around people, especially when they are young.
Spending time isolated from opportunities to be around people is detrimental to behavioural and social development. Dogs who are alone for large portions of the day, especially young dogs, may be at risk of suffering negative effects.
To help these dogs, we are tempted to spend the little available time with them go, go going. We think we are making up for lost time by providing the dog with activity, exertion and excitement. While all that stuff may be a good addition, consider just being as just as important a skill and a vital part of helping and supporting them, when you can spend time with them.
Here I am hanging out with Theo while he was spending time in kennels. Helping him be. So that he can cope with life in kennel accommodation, in virtual isolation.
Shy girl Faith appreciated lots of time to be, when she first came from the pound.
How to be
This can be tricky for dogs, and people. If this is a dog who is in kennel accommodation, it might be easier to do this from outside the kennel, while the dog has something stuffable to work on initially. Or it might be better to try this away from kennel life, out and about.
For dogs who find it hard to be, try when they are already calm, initially when they are settling with a stuffable, when the house is quiet. It can take some time to build this ability, for both species.
Put away your phone, concentrate on being, in the moment, with your pet.
They may or may not want contact or touching. Try not to make this a grooming or scratching session. Massage them calmly and briefly, withdraw and allow them to be. Repeat if they want that. But, it’s not necessary, to be.
How you be
There are no rules. Work on being. Work on finding what helps your dog be. Work on finding what helps you be.
Build slowly. Develop being incrementally. Avoid frustration, fidgeting, agitation and excitement. Maybe, you will only be for very short durations, seconds, minutes. That’s ok. It’s a work in progress.
Now it’s your turn. Show us what you and your pets, of any species, can do with these challenges!
Post to your social media accounts, using the #100daysofenrichment so that we can find you and join our Facebook group to share your experiences, ideas and fun!
You can comment right here too 🙂
We look forward to hearing from you and your pets – just be!