De-Stress in Minutes: How You and Your Dog Can Relax and Connect Using This Simple Breathing Technique #13

#canine #debono moves anxiety canine connection connected breathing stress Mar 26, 2024

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In addition to deepening your bond, Connected Breathing may help anxious or reactive dogs recognize a state of calmness and safety. And help them return to this state more easily. It can do the same for you too!

In this episode:

  • Hear how Connected Breathing can improve the well-being of humans and animals.
  • Mary shares stories of pets who regained energy and joy through Connected Breathing.
  • Connected Breathing can reset the nervous system and help your dog experience life differently. 
  • Being in a state of gratitude enhances the benefits.
  • Connected Breathing has helped dogs recover from injuries, surgery and even find peace during end-of-life.
  • It is a time-saving practice that can be done with multiple pets in a household.
  • Connected Breathing may help anxious or reactive dogs recognize a state of calmness and safety. And help them return to this state more easily.


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Two stories mentioned in this episode:
1. Cat named PJ 

2. A Terrier's Recovery From Hip Surgery

Did you hear? I'll be opening enrollment in my new online group coaching program so you can learn how to help your dog feel better in body and mind. Stay tuned for more details. Or email [email protected] to let me know that you're interested.   

All information is for general educational purposes ONLY and doesn't constitute medical or veterinary advice. Please consult a qualified healthcare provider if you or your dog are unwell or injured. 


Would you like a simple and really time effective way to help yourself and your dog feel better in body and mind? Well, my name is Mary Debono and this is the Easier Movement, happier Dog's podcast. I'm so glad you're here. Today, I want to talk to you about something we call connected breathing. And it seems like such a simple thing and you can decide how long to do it.

So it could be just a few minutes, it could be longer, but it's amazing how much better you and your pet can feel after you do it. So I wanna start by telling you a story about a cat I did this with. So some time ago, this woman called me to work with her cat. I was still doing out calls at that time,

and she had seen me do some work with her neighbor's cat. And it was a pretty amazing result that happened with the neighbor's cat. So she thought, oh, maybe this lady can help me with my cat. Now her cat was named pj, a sweet little tabby, and she had been diagnosed with asthma about nine months before. And Carol, the woman who owned PJ,

was doing everything the vet said, but despite that, PJ was still not herself. She seemed just kind of lethargic. She didn't wanna play, she was just kind of out of sorts. So she thought, oh, what could it hurt to have this, this person come and work with my cat? So luckily for me, PJ was the type of cat that she was like,

cool with strangers. She was okay. So I, you know, I carefully approached her. She was lying on the floor in the living room, and I gradually put my hands one hand anyway on her rib cage, and I just listened to her breathe and my hand was really, really light. And I was really careful that I wasn't trying to influence her breath in any way.

I was just breathing there with her. And the other thing that was really important was that I was breathing in just a relaxed way. I wasn't trying to breathe in like a particular way, but just a relaxed way of breathing. Something that felt comfortable to me. And then, this is really key. As I was doing this with pj, the cat,

I was feeling really grateful, really grateful, grateful for, for this opportunity to help this creature who was just amazing and just, you know, grateful for all the blessings in my life, but especially that moment in time with pj. And what they found, what scientists have found is that when you're enter, enter into a state of gratitude like that,

it actually changes and improves your heart rate variability and it puts you into a more optimal state, Both physically and mentally. So that's kind of cool. But what I've found in addition to that, in addition to those kind of benefits, this is what I've found, and this is what I think gratitude is so key. It, it seems like it opens a door to clearer communication between you and the animal.

So when I'm feeling very grateful and I'm interacting with an animal, I'm feeling grateful about that interaction, I find that I can sense more of how I can best help that animal. So whether it's a cat, a dog, a horse, a Guinea pig, a rabbit, a human, you know, whoever it happens to be, it again seems like it opens this door for me and I could just,

you know, refine what I'm doing much more clearer and help the animal more. So back to pj. So we are just sitting there breathing together. She was lying on the floor. I was sitting on the floor. And then gradually what I started to do, 'cause then her breathing started getting deeper, which was really nice because she had been breathing in a very shallow way with her whole asthma issue.

And I started very, very gradually lightning my touch. Now, I wasn't pressing on her, but just like the weight of my hand, right? So I started again, I wanna emphasize very gradually lightning my hand. And what she did was really lovely because she had gotten to the point that she enjoyed the contact of my hands on her rib cage.

She took deeper breaths to maintain that contact. Okay? Now this works really well, but has to be done really gradually, okay? And that you have to get to a place where the animal is enjoying your contact, and then you start to take it away in tiny, tiny amounts. And then they, the tendency I've done this with horses and dogs as well,

is that they take deeper breaths in an effort to maintain that contact. So that's what we started doing. Now, why did I wanna do that? Well, I'll tell you why. Changing the breath, and again, I'm not imposing this on her, she chose to change her breath, but it changes your state, right? It changes your physical and emotional state when you change your breath.

The other thing it does is it helps you get unstuck. Okay? So she was stuck in feeling a certain way this cat. And what I was helping her do was to experience life differently. She could take a deep breath, she could like breathe in her environment instead of being guarded and small and, you know, having this shallow breath, I was helping her experience something different so she could experience different sensations.

This is really key. I don't care what kind of animal you're working with, cat, dog, horse, again, human, whoever. You want to be able to have them experience life differently to feel differently. Okay? So that's what I was giving her. So her nervous system could start to recognize like, this is different, this is different.

The other thing it does, when you get into this quieting kind of shared awareness state with connected breathing, the animal's nervous system and your own nervous system start to recognize that as a place of belonging, a place of connection, a place they want to come back to. So this is why I believe it's so helpful for creating a really deep bond. Okay?

So in, in PJ's case, what ended up happening was she started taking these lovely deep breaths and I gradually took my hands away totally. And we just sat there for a while, not touching, but breathing together. And then she got up and jumped up on the window sill and the, the window was open. I mean, there was a screen on it,

but the window was open and she took these deep breaths like she was breathing in the fresh ocean air she lived in at the time, Laguna Miguel, which is on the coast of southern California. And her person, Carol started crying and she said, she has not jumped up on the window, she has not done anything like that in about nine months.

What she also told me was PJ's sibling, if you will, their, their other cat had passed away just before PJ developed asthma. Now, isn't that interesting? So pj, the cat was experiencing a lot of grief from the loss of her sibling, and so was Carol. You know, she really missed the cat, her other cat as well.

So now what I know about Chinese, traditional Chinese medicine is that they consider the lungs like the seat of grief. So I thought it was interesting, maybe it was a coincidence that she, the cat developed asthma when she was experiencing that deep grief. And so I taught Carol how to do connected breathing to help kind of support PJ's progress as they went along.

And it worked really, really well. So PJ went on to be back to her old self. Now that doesn't mean she wasn't grieving to some degree, and Carol was of course grieving, but you know, they seemed to be able to, you know, remember the good, well, at least Carol anyway, who I could talk to, remember the good times with the previous cat,

and they just brought more joy into their lives. They seem to, to embrace life again. So that was really cool. So again, I've done this with so many different animals over the years. I'll, I'll tell you a story about a dog. This dog, Zoe, small terrier, had hip surgery. She had hip surgery where they have to actually remove the head of the femur called an FHO surgery.

And especially they did this with big dogs too, but especially with small dogs, the, the recovery is usually pretty good. And Zoe, the dog, she had had all the best rehab care. She, they did everything for her everyth, they followed all the vet's advice, the canine therapist advice, and yet Zoe still would not bear weight on that leg that was repaired.

So even months, months later, she was not standing and walking on that leg, or definitely not running. And her person, Natalie, had seen me speak at a, at an event I was doing. And so she went out and bought my book, grow Young with Your Dog, in which I described this whole connected breathing, and there's like a audio and stuff you can follow.

And she did it with Zoe. And she said what happened? Amazed her. She said after she did that connected breathing with Zoe, where they got really quiet together, Zoe got up and immediately started using the leg. And she even sent me later on a video where Zoe the dog is doing zoomies, you know, running around in circles like crazy.

And it was like, from then on, she was fine. And the way I, the way I explain that, 'cause I've seen this in other cases, similar situations, is that it's like a reset or it can be a reset for the nervous system. So it gives you, again, I wanna emphasize you want the dog or the cat or whoever to experience feeling differently,

to get unstuck, to have different sensations. And that's what I've seen connected breathing do. It's like, can just kind of like, you know, how you reboot your computer sometimes when things are just not working and you're just like, you know, what else do I do? Turn it off, start it up, redo a restart. It's kind of like that.

That's what I've seen. And again, I wanna emphasize, you have to be in the right state to do this as well. As far as I found that being in a state of gratitude helps it really kind of like turbocharges the connected breathing. So I'll give you another story of a dog. So this woman who I, who I've never met, okay?

She also bought my book Grow Young with her dog, and she had a 17-year-old little dog who was dying of liver cancer. They had done all the treatments and that extended the dog's life, but they reached a point where that wasn't going to be, you know, the end was near. And so again, she was following all the vet's advice, but she wanted to do something else to help her dog.

And the dog was having trouble breathing at that point. So she started doing connected breathing with her little dog. And she said it was amazing because the dog started taking deeper breaths. And she said what was so wonderful was that like a peacefulness seemed to wash over them. Both her and the dog kind of entered into a state of peacefulness. And she had,

like I described before, seemed to have like clearer communication with the dog. She knew how to help the dog in a better way. And she said it gave them so many wonderful moments of peacefulness before the end. And the end came and she really missed her dog. She had two other dogs as well. And so she said it became a practice that they did that every morning her and the the other dogs would sit there and breathe together.

I think she was even doing it with like one hand on each dog, which I'm not suggesting, but it worked for her pretty well. But, and that, and that can work. I've, I've done similar things. But what she said was also really cool was that when they would do the connected breathing, her and the two dogs, she would invite in the dog who passed away.

And she said, I felt like she was right there with us because she said we had these wonderful moments at the end of her life that were so peaceful and so loving that it just kind of brought her back to me. And I thought that was really nice. So she continued to invite her into the connected breathing. And this is the thing, connected breathing can help your dog,

can help your cat, your horse, your, you know, whoever. But it helps you as well because the benefits seem to be similar to entering into a meditative state. And we know how powerful meditation can be. And again, I wanna emphasize if you enter into a state of gratitude as you do it, it can be really, really powerful to,

again, help improve your physical and emotional wellbeing as well as your dog, and to, to really deepen the connection between you. And what I wanna say too, I I mentioned at the beginning of this episode how it's like a time saving way. Like it doesn't have to take a lot of time. So you might find that you only have a few minutes,

I don't know, five minutes, and maybe in the morning, the afternoon or the evening, you do some connected breathing with your dog. It's like that special time with you and your dog. And this can work extremely well with just say you have a multi dog household or a multi pet household, and you feel like maybe the older dogs, the well-behaved Dogs aren't getting their share of attention.

Well, this is a really nice thing to do with them because it doesn't have to take a lot of time. Now, you could go longer, you could go longer and you'll, you'll get, you know, other benefits. But just say you only have the five or 10 minutes, that's okay. And here it's something, you know, because we know so many of the benefits of meditation for you.

So you can get similar benefits, I think from doing the connected breathing. I'm not saying it's exactly like meditation, especially if you're thinking about gratitude. And there's a whole process I talk about, you know, in the, in the audio that I share about this, where you're kind of like exchanging the breath, like you're breathing in your dog's love and you're exhaling.

Yeah, you're breathing in your dog's love and exhaling your love to the dog. So it's like this, this wonderful exchange of breath, okay? Like a, like an energetic exchange, but energetic in the sense of loving energy. So again, it creates that synergistic effect where the relaxed breath helps you, right? And also really helps ground you in the present moment.

We all talk about like how nice it would be to be more mindful, more aware, or more, you know, noticing our current state instead of like worrying about the future or regretting the past. So this is a great way to do it. So what I love, and you probably notice this if you listen to the other podcast episodes, is I love things that help you and your dog at the same time.

And that's, I've designed my programs for that. And that's what this does. That's what connected breathing does, helps you and your dog at the same time. So the other thing I wanna say is that it's so common, this is a common challenge that a lot of dog people have, is that their dog is anxious, their dog is fearful, or their dog is maybe not fearful,

but doing something that some people call reactive. Like in other words, they, they get upset, they get upset when, you know, other, they see other dogs or cars or skateboards or whatever. And I've talked about this also on other podcast episodes, but one of the things I wanna point out is that the nervous system needs to recognize where,

like, how it can feel safe. So again, when you do connected breathing and you and your dog are in this wonderful state of just peacefulness and shared awareness, you know that deep connection, you're helping your dog and yourself practice that state of calmness so that the dog, for example, the dog's nervous system can get to that state much more readily.

Like it's a more familiar state for the dog and for you for that matter. You know, we're all stressed, right? A lot of people are stressed, right? This, this is like teaching your nervous system that there are other options. So again, it goes back to giving your dog and yourself that experience of feeling different, of experiencing life differently.

So more in this calm state. And by the way, your, your underlying sense of ease or effort, like whether you feel stressed or not, definitely impacts your dog. So again, helping your nervous system get more familiar with this calm state is very powerful for you and your dog. So I hope that gives you some ideas. Oh, I do wanna tell you about a freebie.

I always have freebies for you, don't I? And some of you may have already gotten this if you listen to the other podcast episodes, but I wanna point something out. So please listen, in case you've already gotten it, keep keep listening. So please, so if you go to mary Debono dot com slash love dog and love dog is one word all lowercase.

And, and the link will be in wherever you're listening or watching this. So in the description, if you go to that, you're going to get some free videos, like four free videos. Okay? Now three of those have to do with what I call rhythm circles, which are another really wonderful thing to help calm the nervous system, improve wellbeing and all that good stuff,

deepen the bond. Many, many wonderful reasons to use rhythm circles. But one of those four videos is about connected breathing and I demonstrate with a dog. So you'll see a video of me doing it, okay? And give you some more ideas about it. So that's in that same like hub of resources. So even if you've already signed up for at mary Debono dot com slash love dog,

make sure you look for the video. There's four videos, they're like in a row across the third one will say connected breathing. So if you go to, you'll get a video about that. And if you haven't watched the Rhythm Circle ones, you can do that too. Okay? So whatever your interest is, we've got you covered. So again,

just just to wrap up, connected breathing is a simple time saving and really powerful way of helping you and your dog feel calmer, feel better in body and mind and deepen your connection. So I hope you give it a try. Let me know. I love to hear from you. So feel free to email me at Mary at mary Debono dot com and I look forward to sharing more good stuff with you.

I may do a, a video for you if you have a particular situation you're dealing with, I'd love to help you out. So thank you so much for listening and I look forward to talking to you again soon. Bye for now.