WHAT DOGS CAN TEACH US ABOUT CREATING HABITS

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WHAT DOGS CAN TEACH US ABOUT CREATING HABITS

To have an excellent life, strive for an excellent year. Within that year, strive for an excellent month, and within that month, strive for an excellent day. Within the day, strive for an excellent hour. An excellent life is the sum of many excellent moments!

God’s Little Devotional Book, p.136     

Spa

Spa

          Dog training is a science but, at the end of the day, it is about creating dog habits. A habit to go potty outside and never inside even when it gets bad.  A habit to stay still when mommy is brushing you.  A habit to drop the ball when asked…  Almost every dog has a hard time creating a habit but most of them eventually get it.

          Do you have a desired habit you are struggling with? First, let’s call it “dancing” and not struggling. WHAT ARE YOU DANCING WITH?

          I am dancing with re-establishing my yoga practice. I used to do yoga all the time and then I opened my own business, moved… Something happened and I lost what I used to cherish and love so much. And I miss it. I yearn for it. But for some reason I am dancing with it. I look at my dog Spa and her successes in getting trained and think of the three ways she can help me figure out my dance with yoga.

          REPETITION

         Repetition is a key part of dog training and creating dog habits. A simple act of repeating something again and again creates a habit and turns into mastery. Spa was potty trained by getting a treat within seconds after she peed and pooped outside.  I repeated giving her a treat again and again and she was trained within a week… I realize that one of the reasons I am dancing with creating a yoga habit is the lack of repetition. I should know better because it is repetition that helped me create a meditation practice every morning when I listen to a five-minute guided meditation by Susanne Kempken (free at goo.gl/nk22er). I decided to apply repetition to my yoga practice by doing three rounds of Sun Salutations every morning before I walk the dog, seven days a week. I realized “doing yoga daily” as a goal did not work for me. “Doing three rounds of Sun Salutations right after I wake up” did.  REPEAT YOUR DANCE. AGAIN AND AGAIN.

          CONSISTENCY

sun-salutation-picture

          Dog trainers cry when consistency is broken. They insist that we have to be consistent in treating our dogs. I can’t expect to give Spa something off Thanksgiving table “only once” and expect her to never beg for food. I added consistency to my yoga practice when I decided to do sun salutations daily right after I get up in the morning (after my morning meditation). I also just started traveling with a small yoga towel so I don’t break my morning sun salutations routine when I am traveling. I notice the moment I get inconsistent and skip a day or two I fall back and begin a new dance of going back to doing yoga. BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR DANCE.

          COMMITMENT

          As dog parents we commit to providing the best for our dogs and bringing them up right. I don’t choose to stay inside on a cold day when the dog needs to go out. I feed Spa even if my dinner is ready and is getting cold. I give her baths, brush her daily and clean her eyes twice a day (OK, I AM a co-founder of Dog Fashion Spa brand so the last one is a given, fine). The point is once we REALLY commit to doing something it becomes non-negotiable. The key word is NON-NEGOTIABLE.  I am committed to taking care of my dog so I do it no matter what. When I stop doing yoga I go back to re-assess my commitment to this practice and understand why I negotiate with myself and do other things in place of yoga. I remind myself that grit and character developed through non-negotiable commitment will serve me in all aspects of life. I compare a commitment required from me to create a yoga practice to my non-negotiable commitment to take care of my dog. MAKE YOUR DANCE NON-NEGOTIABLE.

          All of us are “dancing” with something in our life. Why does it take Spa less time to create a new habit than it takes me to establish a yoga practice? Maybe it is time for me to take a lesson from my dog by adding repetition, consistency and commitment to my yoga practice.

          With love and kindness, 

gift-with-purchase-valentines-day

Elena and Spa, September 2014       Elena & Spa

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