Understanding & Listening to Dogs – My Approach

One of our horse listeners with a challenging dog wrote in to ask if I could share any ideas on what I think works best with dogs – in light of my very different approach with horses. She wrote:

“All the dog trainers talk about dog communication, leadership, etc etc, and it seems to be along the same lines as natural horsemanship: sounds wise and good, but ends up being somehow limiting, even manipulative. Do you end up with a well trained dog, or a shut down dog? I’m really not sure.

I’m choosing instead to allow time and experience to shape him, and trying to understand HIM, rather than some idea of what he is. I see him struggle to get through to me, and I struggle with the right approach. Do I get stern with him? Do I merely redirect him with the help of treats? Do I be the “leader”? He’s a strong, powerful dog but balanced and sweet as well. No aggression, no wariness, no manic behaviors, but full-on energy.

I wonder if you have some thoughts about the being of dogs, and how you approach how you are with them? I believe you will have some great thoughts to share on this!”

Y’all know me so well! And yes I do have some thoughts I can share on this 🙂 But I figured it was easier and more helpful to *show* her my approach, rather than write a big long article about it!

I thought I would wait for her to watch the video and let me know if it was helpful/useful before I made it public. And she wrote back:

“After watching the video I love the sentence: “(our) job is to advocate and support the dog to develop the highest and best expression of who they truly are”. Big resounding yes. Really helps me understand how to build the trust and relationship with him. First though, I gotta better understand his genetics.

I found your demonstrations very instructive and helpful; your approach reminds me very much of what we teach in our school, to listen in to what the creative medium of reality is trying to teach you if you want to create a new reality for yourself, or your community. It takes a fierce honesty and unflinching gaze, and a practice of managing one’s projection, so its not a walk in the park. But that’s what I so appreciate about you and your team. I need to better understand this terrain, and the animals are the perfect teachers of energy and thought hygiene. Truly amazing! Never would have known this if I hadn’t stumbled across your work a year ago.

Anyhow, I was so very thrilled you took the time to show me. Its hard to express how special that is 🙂

I think my dog is feeling relieved that I’m starting to get the right picture and can stop getting so frustrated with him. After I got your email he came and lay right on my feet and put his head on my leg and I felt his relief and affection. You see he’s not an affectionate dog, though very friendly with everyone, so it was an unusual gesture from him. He’s been holding back a bit because I haven’t quite been showing up how he needs me to, is my sense. Anyway, lots of love and gratitude to you from both of us!”

If you have a ‘difficult’ or challenging dog, know that your dog can/will be one of your best teachers if you choose to lean in, listen, experiment, understand, rather than seeking to discipline and control that dog. Just like a horse, really!

Since most of us horse people also have a dog or two, I figured sharing this on the blog here was a good idea. Post a picture of your dog below as I’d love to see them. And if you can get a shot of your dog with your horse(s) then you get bonus points!

Understanding & Listening to Dogs – My Approach

18 thoughts on “Understanding & Listening to Dogs – My Approach

  • May 1, 2021 at 11:14 pm
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    Here is one of our dogs, Siri, with three of our horses. (Another dog and a fourth horse missing from the picture.

    Siri is also of a hunter-line, for moose and bear traditionally. So she has this double relationship to the horses, she likes to hang out with them and she guards them, but at the same time they trigger her moose-hunting instinct and she tries to keep them in place by barking at them if they get close to her. Sometimes this looks like a power struggle to me, the horses show her that she can’t order them around and she won’t give up either:-)

    Thank you for the video, so great how you demonstrate this transition from strictness to openness, and love and joy, and this mastery of your own energy and the communication and growing together as opposed to dominance.

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    • May 2, 2021 at 8:56 pm
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      Sofia your photo didn’t come through… if you can’t get it to work, you can email it to me and I’ll post it for you. I’m very interested to see what Siri looks like!

      And I hear you about the power struggle, when I was integrating the new wild mustangs, there were a few times I had to put Tiah and Kumba into the tack room. There just wasn’t enough understanding/boundaries on either side and the horses were ratcheting the energy sky high! So the risk was too high that the dogs would be hurt.

      And so pleased you enjoyed the vid! xo

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        • May 2, 2021 at 11:10 pm
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          Oh my. I.can’t.even!!! There are all just SO fluffily adorable!!! I am energetically SMOOCHING every one of them!

          I see what you mean about Siri – very strong character. You wouldn’t starve in the wild with her around! Thanks so much for sharing them with us 🙂

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  • May 2, 2021 at 1:17 pm
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    Thank you so much Jini, as ever your teachings are the very best, I loved this and could have gone on walking around with you all for hours (aside from under those power lines – I feel them intensely too and would have moved away as fast – very unfortunate for those horses…)
    Tia and Kumba are truly wonderful and gave us a fantastic demonstration!!

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    • May 2, 2021 at 8:52 pm
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      I felt SO bad for those horses Ray – and then as we were walking away, I realized that their humans lived under those power lines too!! It’s such an illustration of how our animals are bound to our level of awareness/wholeness. We cannot give what we don’t have. And we cannot teach what we don’t know. Namaste.

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  • May 3, 2021 at 3:48 pm
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    I loved this and also could have walked with you for several DAYS as I work to absorb all the implications! There are many of them, and so I have taken to listening to this as an audio file in the car. It works well that way 🙂 Here is a photo of my dog — alas I don’t have one of him with horse for extra brownie points but I thought this one would give you some idea of him. Cool story about when I first got him: we picked him up at 6 weeks so I could get him before he was neutered and received too many vaccinations. He turned out to be a dragon, not a puppy at all, with the sharpest and most determined puppy teeth you’ve ever encountered. He was absolutely relentless. However the night we got him, while I was full of anxiety and “oh my goodness what have I done I’m going to regret this” thoughts, I heard as clear as a bell: “Leo”. I knew that was to be his name — and would you believe it he had the constellation of Leo on his face? Its not so easy to see now that he’s older. That was confirmation that I did indeed choose the right dragon — I mean puppy, and he was meant to be with us. Thankfully he has turned into a wonderful and beautiful dog at 9 months old now, and we all managed to survive his early puppyhood. Maybe you can see something of his personality in the photo 🙂 Let me know if it doesn’t come through.

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    • May 4, 2021 at 12:38 am
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      Oh my gosh Louisa – he would fit right in with our crew! He has the Australian cattle dog/blue heeler look about him. I’ll bet you go through a LOT of marrow bones with him while teething! That was my trick to NEVER have pups chew on shoes etc – again, I figured they were just trying to meet a need. So they got a fresh bone every time they showed signs of needing some chew action. And Tiah – who’s most like your boy – was switched to chicken carcasses/full bones (rather than ground up) and chopped up lamb necks, rather than ground etc. Oh and you can get natural rubber chew toys now too – so they don’t get the chemicals from plastics. Anyway, yes, LOTS of good times ahead with this dude!

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  • May 4, 2021 at 6:56 am
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    Dogs and horses can be so different and yet so the same when it comes to energy! Joker (Catahoula leopard dog) who was originally my sons GF dog has now joined our family full time (long story) along with Roofus! (Red Bone Hound)..They are both about two. Joker is a extremely intelligent soul. I feel he speaks English quite well and I have personally never met a dog with so much understanding for the human world! He has taught me that the open heart energy is the only way he will come to me also! It’s so cool how he reinforces this time and time again! This is a lesson I definitely needed to learn as although I have had dogs share life with me since birth I grew up in a family of yelling at dogs and dog rules I never jived with? I also do not make my dogs wear a collar unless going for an outing that I feel they might need it. For me it’s a kin to a halter or a bra and I personally couldn’t imagine having to wear a bra 24/7! I also agree calling a dog or repeating yourself over and over again (most humans I see do this with most animals) has to be so irritating for the animal and most likely results in distrust! I am getting more and more silent as I age (huge shift for my loud self) and I find it is a better approach the majority of the time. But it is something I constantly need to work on and remind myself of! I very recently had an outing with with Buck A Roo (QH) and felt silence had a less then desired impact on him? I feel he enjoys kudos and out loud positive affirmations along with chit chat about the situation. I feel he is teaching me a blending of the two and that I need to access the energy and respond accordingly! Roofus is definitely teaching me to balance my energy as he was said to have been in a bad human situation before us and his idea and past experiences with humans appears to have severely affected his trust of humans! We are building trust and love everyday and I adore witnessing him coming out of his shut down scared protective place! Since this post is about dogs and health …I am still interested in chatting food health? I have recently discovered RMF (rotational mono feeding ) and so far I am resonating strongly with this approach! Just curious your observations on dog food health as my last two dogs died way to young (12) and I knew I needed to search for a better way to feed them!
    ✌🏼💚🐴

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    • May 4, 2021 at 12:38 pm
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      Love this Michelle – all the nuances and of course, different for each being. We have friends we tend to be louder and more exuberant with and we have friends we tend to be more quiet or serious with. I think it’s that combination of reading the person/being and their nervous system, combined with being grounded and authentic to our soul.

      For food/health – I started writing you a reply here and as it got longer and longer I realized I better turn it into a post! So that’s coming on Sunday and that way I can include weblinks etc. I guess I should video or photograph their food too…

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      • May 5, 2021 at 7:02 am
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        Ok I really appreciate that! If you have time will you take a look at RMF? I am completely fascinated by the theory of it and the affect I am seeing with Joker and Roofus! They have a FB page so you can get the idea of it if you are not already aware of it? It is based on terrain theory versus germ theory which I am not completely convinced of but at the same time very intrigued about? I know this is getting a bit far removed from the horses but at the same time health is so impossible to all species and eating inline with what Mother Nature intended seems appropriate for all! As you know Dreamer has sent me down this gigantic rabbit hole and now I can’t stop for the dogs or myself , husband and Gun Sun! Those horses always keep me on the road to healing! ✌🏼💚🐴

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  • May 7, 2021 at 7:01 am
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    I believe I left my comment in the wrong spot. Sorry about that. This is Eddie. One of my 4 🐕 🐶

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  • May 7, 2021 at 7:07 am
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    Sam and Eddie. Great pyrenees and anatolian shepherd…great livestock guardian dogs. I have chickens so Jini it is possible to have dogs around them. I have a red heeler who wanted to kill them. Took me a year to get her use to them. Now she just wants to eat their food.😄

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  • May 8, 2021 at 5:20 am
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    Thank you Jini for opening this topic.
    Willow, who lived with us for 18 years passed during this winter. Her kidneys failed and within a week she left but even as she left, she was licking our hands to let us know it was alright. I, especially, was always in her sight. She was a calm, stable being. Once when walking together we came upon a bear and we viewed each others aura and walked away from each other without any excitement. It was Willow teaching me to be still that day. I only put a collar on her and used a lease when we were near roads. She didn’t ‘get’ these non-being things (cars). So, there was an understanding between us about safety for her. She never played games in the traditional human/dog sense but her most favorite thing was to run….fast, quick and with every muscle and sinu involvment and this joy always filled me when she would run not only for her enjoyment but for mine also. I’m thinking about how domesticated dogs want us to tap into their wisdom. They have so much to teach and their love and protection is boundless. And if we want to share our shelter with them we need to share the rules of being house bound for harmony sake. Just don’t be surprised if the dog has better ideas than the human does in that arrangement. I often thought that the connection to me energetically, was to my hip. That may sound strange, but that is how it felt. Accepting the freedom of choice in our relationship only grew the bond stronger.
    Just yesterday I felt this bond between a 6 year old girl who was playing on her sidewalk, and, some might have said she was alone but no, the dog over there on the lawn was linked to her. It was lovely to see and feel energetically. So, I acknowledged it and crossed over to the other side of the street (the dog warned me to give room between me and his person) and then I called out to that little girl and the dog how very wonderful their relationship was….and in a soft tone the little girl thanked me.
    I found that when I gave Willow credit for who she really was, she returned the favor….we were a team. No one better than another. And today, other dogs know that I am without my dog. Like with horses I am waiting for another opportunity. As they pass me on trails with their people most will stop and we chat. The person might say, he jumps but we are already sharing between us to keep all six feet on the ground thank you very much!
    So, this ramble comes to a close. I love all of you with your dogs and how we all are taping into understanding fields of energy and wisdom. And when occasionally I pass a pair that are not doing well I stop and meditate for them as they move away from me.

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