The Power of Belief: How Your Thoughts Shape Your Dog's Actions #26

#canine #mindset canine connection Jun 25, 2024

Grab your FREE video training! 💥

Ever wondered how your thoughts and emotions might be shaping your dog's behavior? Join me as I share a personal story of a dramatic shift in a dog's demeanor that shed light on this fascinating connection.

In this episode of Easier Movement, Happier Dogs, I recount how a friend's dog loved our beach outings but suddenly mirrored her owner's dislike for the beach when her person returned home. This transformation opens our eyes to how our own feelings and perceptions can have a profound impact on our pets.

We'll explore the science behind this phenomenon, diving into the role of the Reticular Activating System (RAS) and how adjusting our thoughts can create a more positive reality for both us and our dogs.

Learn how to reframe your language and thoughts to foster a healthier, more collaborative relationship with your furry friend. By viewing ourselves as partners, we can enhance our mutual well-being and create a more supportive environment.

Your feedback and engagement are crucial, so share your questions and ideas for future episodes—we're in this together!


Grab your FREE video training! 💥

Join our free Facebook group:

Get Mary’s bestselling, award-winning book, “Grow Young with Your Dog,” for a super low price at: Demonstration videos are included at no extra cost. ⬅️⬅️⬅️

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. 


Did you realize that your thoughts can shape your dog's actions? Well, let me give you a little example about that. So years ago, I was pet sitting for a friend. In other words, she was going out of town for several weeks, and she asked us, my husband and I, to take her dog into our home and, you know, take care of her dog for several weeks. And her dog was great.

We loved her dog. Her dog got along great with the dogs we had and our cat, and it would be just a big, happy family. So we happily said yes, that we'd love to take care of her dog. And her dog was awesome. Just, you know, went right into our routine, you know, slept on the bed with us, did. Did all the things. And one of the things we were doing at that time is we lived.

We lived at the beach. I mean, close, very close to the beach, I should say beach community. And we often went to a beach where they allowed dogs to be. So we all. The dogs loved it. We loved it. It was just so much fun. So we did this for a period of six weeks with this dog. And the dog went from being porky. You know, she was a little.

She was chubby. She was. She was fluffy, as they say. And she slimmed down. She got really fit. And she was always happy. She, you know, know, roll in seaweed and run around and do all the things, all the fun doggy things. And so when. And my friend was somewhere, basically, we didn't communicate. We did a little bit over those several weeks, but there were times where she was really out of range of any kind of communication.

So I wasn't giving her a blow by blow every day about the dog. So when I went to pick her up at the airport, one of the things I said to her was, oh, it was so great. You know, we went to the beach all the time. She loved it. We had so much fun. And she said, oh, my goodness, you took her to the beach? She hates the beach.

She hates it. And I was like, oh, she didn't seem that way. And she said, oh, yeah, she hates it. She hates it. So anyway, you know, we got to. We got to our house. She was happy to see her dog. Everything was great. And after some time to relax, we decided, oh, let's go to the beach, because the dogs like it so much. So all, you know, get in the car, we're going down to the beach, and all of a sudden, I look over at my friend as we're walking from the car to the actual beach, and she looks, like, really depressed.

She's slumped. She's looking down. And then I look over at her dog, and her dog is following her. And her dog suddenly adopts that same exact posture. She's just, like, slumpy, looking down, walking slowly. Our dogs are running, you know, like they're. They're super happy. And that's how she always was. But suddenly now she was basically mirroring her person. And I remember just being, like, so blown away by that.

And then my friend looked at me and said, I hate the beach. So it was her that hated the beach, not her dog. But yet her dog was picking up on that and acting as if she hated the beach. Okay, so that's one example, because that really made a huge impression on, on me, because I saw how quickly a dog could go from being all happy and joyful and been enjoying this for six weeks to suddenly looking and acting like she did not want to be there either.

Okay, so. But I want to give you some more practical ideas because you might think, well, that doesn't apply to me, Mary, but let me explain how it can apply to you. And before we get into that, in case we're meeting for the first time, my name is Mary de Bono, and this is the easier movement, Happier Dogs podcast. And let's think about something else. Think about how you describe your dog.

Whether you're talking to someone else, whether you're talking to a friend or a professional or a family member, or it's just in your head. But think about how you describe your dog. What do you think about your dog's intelligence? What do you think about your dog's athletic ability? What do you think about your dog's drive? You know, there's so many times I hear people will say, they'll say it to me, my dog is lazy or my dog is not smart, my dog is stubborn or things like that, you know?

And think about what that does to you when you, when you think of your dog that way. Let's say you think of your dog as not being smart. So what happens? Your brain will then look for evidence that your dog is not smart, right? There's something in the brain called the reticular activating system, or Ras, and you can think of it as almost like a filter or a lens that it's like you put in a search term, and it will find evidence of that.

That's what it'll search for. It's like using your Google search bar. You put something in. If you put in, you know, pictures of Chihuahuas, that's what's going to come up on the Internet, right? If you put in your ras, if you put in my dog is not smart, what it's going to do is it's going to search for evidence that that is true. So you're not going to notice the times when your dog does all these smart things, right.

Instead, you're going to shape your perception of your dog's behavior as not smart. So this is really powerful. I mean, our, our thoughts are so incredibly powerful. And, you know, you can, you basically can shape your reality because you're changing what you see. There is so much data coming into your senses, like an amazing amount of data constantly, that we have to filter it out. So that's one of the things we're doing with our thoughts.

We're actually deciding what comes in, what comes in through our senses. So, and this has always fascinated me, this idea that the way you see the world is different than the way I see the world, and it's different than your friend sees the world and my neighbor sees the world. I mean, we all see the world a bit differently, and a large part of it is what we are looking for.

And again, this is unconscious, right? It's not something necessarily that we wake up and say, I want to look for all the not so smart things my dog does. Right? It just becomes a part of what we look for. And again, that's just one example. And you might also say, or maybe you don't say your dog isn't smart, but you say, my dog is so stubborn. Really? Is that stubborn?

Is that really what stubborn looks like? What does stubborn mean? I don't even really know what that means in the context of an animal. Is your dog confused? Is your dog just not into what you're doing? Is it that you haven't developed a way of teaching your dog that resonates with you both? Think about it differently. So actually reframing how you look at your dog, instead of saying, you know, your dog just can't learn anything, it's like, no, maybe your dog is distracted because your dog has a lot of drive and you could learn to harness that, right.

And to have a lot of fun together with that. So again, it's just taking things and looking at them through a different lens, and that will really change the interactions you have with your dog. There's something I say a lot. It's the way we move, the way we breathe, and the way we think are felt by our dogs. They're very keenly sensed by our dogs, and then they shape our interactions with our dogs.

So when you have, again, this idea that, you know, your dog is a particular way. Right. Your dog is basically going to live up to that. So if you think my dog is the best dog, like, my dog is incredible, my dog is athletic. She's so smart, she's so loving. She's so, you know, all these wonderful things, your brain is going to look for evidence of that. And even your energy will promote that, if you will.

It's like you will give off this vibe that will become almost like a blueprint for your dog. I'm not saying everything. You think your dog's going to automatically do nothing like that, but it's kind of, like, similar to my friend in the beach with her dog. It's. She had this thing, you know, she was. She immediately got slumpy and depressed and shuffling along, and her dog followed suit.

If when you interact with your dog, you're thinking, I have the best dog ever, and this is so great, just think of how that changes the energy of the interaction. Think of how that changes you. Right. And how much more joy you bring to the equation. Right. So these are things that, you know, really are important because they affect your quality of life and your dog's quality of life.

And again, your relationship with your dog. So there's something that Brian Tracy, he's a, he's a famous public speaker. He's written a whole bunch of books. He's a. He's a well known businessman. And he said some. A quote. There was a quote from him that I really like. He says, never say anything about yourself that you don't want to be true. I think that's really good advice. And I take it a step further.

I say, never say anything about yourself or your dog that you don't want to be true. And this is not putting your head in the sand and ignoring problems. It's not about ignoring inappropriate behaviors. It's about looking at things through a different lens and then thinking about, well, what could I do differently? How could I use my dog's innate capabilities and characteristics and help my dog maybe have different, you know, do different behaviors, exhibit different behaviors, and embody a different way of being?

But it's very different than laying something on your dog that my dog hates. This. My dog is like this. My dog can't do this. Right? It's very different. Changes the whole dynamics of it. So I would really encourage you to think about that. If you catch yourself either verbally or even in your head, telling these stories about your dog, having these thoughts about your dog know, it would be.

It could be useful to take a moment and think, well, how can I change what I just said there? How can I reframe that into something that's positive, that is optimistic, that shows that we're on a path together rather than being adversaries? Right? How can I. How can I speak and think in a way that shows that I value the relationship with my dog and I value my dog's well being as well as my own?

Because, again, this will help you as well. So I hope you found this helpful. And please let me know what stories you say about yourself and your dog or one or the other. Because, again, this holds true for what we tell ourselves about ourselves as well as what we tell ourselves about our dogs. Okay? So thank you. Thank you so much for joining me here. I really appreciate you listening and subscribing, and, you know, I love sharing this work with you.

And if I can help you in any way, feel free to reach out and maybe I'll do a podcast episode just for you. Thank you so much. I look forward to talking to you again. Bye for now.