- Posted by Gilleen Witkowski
- On February 7, 2017
- 4 Comments
- business, dog-walking, dogs, exercise, fitness, gratitude walks, mental health, Niagara, Perfect Pack, pet care, positive reinforcement, puppies, Toronto, Welland, women in business
By Jessye Langdon, owner of The Perfect Pack, a certified dog walking company offering pet care services in the Niagara region.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of life that sometimes we tend to not step back and take in everything around us. It is easy to forget how lucky we are for the opportunities we’ve been given and the love and support we have.
A few months after I started my business, I found myself becoming very busy with new clients and new opportunities. It was such an amazing experience and I was so proud, but I started finding I was developing a very anxious and overwhelmed mind when I was walking. I found I was focusing on who I still had to walk, the five thousand things I needed to accomplish by the end of the day, etc.
To find relief, I knew I had to change my way of thinking. I always gave everything I had into my dog walks, but I wanted to give more. I wanted that wholesome and calm experience I had before I got busy. I took it as an opportunity to invest in my well-being and to focus on positivity and gratitude.
During the walks I call “gratitude walks,” I tell myself (and sometimes the dogs, haha) everything I am grateful for. I start off by telling myself to think of 3 things, then 3 things turns into 5, then 10, 20, and so on. I also make sure I take the time to reflect on each thing I am grateful for. This process may take five minutes of the walk or it may take 60 minutes. I encourage myself to continue the positivity, gratitude and reflection for the entire walk.
My gratitude walks generally happen on a secluded nature trail where I sometimes bring our packs, but I encourage people to take these walks whenever and wherever they can. Instead of your dog’s walk being the same routine, change up your path and also use it as a moment to refresh your dog’s key senses (smell, noise, sight, etc.) and to begin your reflection.
A couple years ago, a dog trainer and I were walking a high-energy labradoodle client together. I was finding myself anxious and frustrated by the dog’s lack of focus and obedience. The trainer leaned over and said, “Start focusing on everything around you. Talk to yourself about the colours on the trees, how green the grass is, start appreciating the beauty in front of you and everything else will come together.”
I started describing what I was seeing. There were kids playing at the park, one of them was wearing a nice red shirt. I talked about the colour of the water as we were walking by the lake. It was summer, so all of the flowers were in full bloom, and I took the time to appreciate the beautiful landscapes of each home. I started feeling the dog relax in my hands. I found he was more attentive to my queues and looking up at me for direction. By me relaxing my anxious energy and “taking in the moment,” the dog was able to also relax and feel guided, rather than forced by me. The information my trainer had told me was vital and something I KNEW I had to live by if I was going to make a difference in dogs’ lives.
What does this have to do with the dogs who are clients of The Perfect Pack? By practicing these techniques, I allow myself to go into a calmer state. Dogs strive when they’re being guided by a calm, assertive energy. My energy helps mould their overall experience and guide them towards fulfillment in their walk. If I have an anxious, frustrated mind my dogs will pick that up by my stiff posture and unbalanced energy, but if I have a calm wholesome energy, my dogs will respect the guidance they’re given and feel safe and calm.
It’s important to take a moment when we’re walking our dogs to REALLY take in everything around us and simply tell ourselves 3 things we are grateful for. You and your dog will be amazed by how fulfilled you’ll feel after your walk!