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  • Writer's pictureThree Dimensional Dog

Living Presently with Your Dog

"In everyday life we sacrifice our need to feel, without even knowing it." I can't remember where I heard this quote, but I think it's a great sentiment about how we often do not live presently in the moment of now, and instead stimulate ourselves in endless, cyclical distraction. We may do this by busying ourselves with work, tasks, ongoing social media scrolling, sports, vices, etc. This is the age-old push and pull between human "being" and human "doing."

Interestingly, dogs often suffer from the same problems. Culturally, we tend to replicate the same activities for our dogs that we do for ourselves and our children. In this uniquely American mindset of "do more", we tend to stimulate our dogs with endless playing with toys, numerous fast walks, chasing of squirrels, and a focus on frequent training sessions and sport; all of which can comprise much of the day.

Many of these activities are good and healthy (although some less so). The issue comes in when we (and the dogs) lose balance in life and focus too much attention on activities that are external in nature, and focus too little on ourselves, our feelings, and the moment of now.

Dogs, in particular, can be plagued by doing too much. In nearly 85% of the cases we work, the dogs suffer from moderate to severe attention deficit disorder. And dogs who live that experience are fertile ground for the development of higher level anxiety disorders. Remember, it's all connected!

Stimulative activities, which are healthy in moderation, now only contribute to a pervasive pathology of "never stop." And can result in some pretty severe mental health breaks for dogs over time.

What is the counter balance to these activities? Destimulation: frequent sleep, boundaries whereby the dog is required to do nothing but hang out quietly. More crate time, more together time doing nothing but enjoying one another's company, more alone time for the dog to learn independence. Yes it's that simple.

If you engage in this different way with your dog, you can take time to breathe, meditate, process emotion, reflect on "self" and just "be." The middle way is the healthy way.


Aaron McDonald is a canine behaviorist, author, dog trainer, consultant, and President of Three Dimensional Dog in Birmingham, AL. With 24 years of experience he has accumulated well over ten thousand hours of instruction and education in the rehabilitation of canine behavioral dysfunction, canine behavior consultancy, and training. This experience has culminated in the development of the Unified Theory of Canine Behavior, an innovative, systems-based cognitive-behavioral theory.

Aaron has participated in live radio, news broadcasts, and has been sought for his expertise by: Heads of State in the middle east, CNN, Yahoo News, Southern Living, B-Metro Magazine, Eating Well magazine, petMD, the world’s largest pet health media provider.

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