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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Thoughtful walking

From my TTouch notes:  "thoughtful walking"
TTouch has shown me a way of teaching my dog to walk with me that is so different from the way most classes and trainers teach it.  It is about connection and balance.  It is about self-discovery for both the dog and the person holding the leash.  The leash becomes a communication tool, not just a way to control your dog.

When teaching my own dogs, they learn about communication and a light leash from the beginning.  Not everyone teaches their dog in this way, however, and a large strong dog can easily pull me off my feet.  When working with large dogs that have learned to pull on leash, it was difficult to try to maintain control while teaching them to walk lightly on a leash. 
With TTouch, I have tools not only to keep myself safe while keeping the dog under control, but now I also have tools to teach the dog’s person to allow walking to become a nice experience for the dog and the person.  These same tools also help to educate the dog about walking on a loose leash and in balance with the handler.

Those two words - "thoughtful walking" - tell so much about the big picture of walking with our dogs.  TTouch teaches us to be mindful of our own bodies and to walk with awareness and connectedness.  Are our bodies tight and clenched?  Or are they loose, aware, and balanced?  Which one feels better?  Are we feeling and connecting to the ground with each step?  Or are we just hurrying through life to get from one place to another?  Do we remember to breathe deeply to nourish our bodies and souls?
From the dog's end of the leash, is the dog pulling and rushing to get where she wants to go?  Towing you along behind her perhaps?  Is she aware of her body?  Is she in balance?  If she is in balance physically, she can be in balance mentally and emotionally as well.  She is able to be thoughtful.  Thoughtful about her body means that she is not pulling and she is in balance when she walks and when she stops.  Thoughtful about you means that she is paying attention and is coming with you by her own decision, not because you are forcing her.

"Thoughtful walking" -
What a wonderful image these two words leave in my head and in my heart.  An image of connection, of oneness, of being in the moment, of lightness, and of awareness.  Awareness of each other, of the process of walking, of the body and how it moves, of the environment, and that we are part of the bigger picture.  This phrase will now forever be part of my vocabulary as I continue teaching people and dogs how to connect with each other.

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