For me, dog training has always been a bit therapeutic. A way to challenge my skills, learn new things, and connect with my dog. A way to work my brain and learn more about how brains work in general.
During this COVID craziness, in person dog training classes aren’t a thing for me. I’m not teaching nor am I taking. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to sign up for some online courses so that I can take the time to work on some of Kyu’s neglected skills while I help repair his injury and gut. It’s been nice to still have things to work on and that teacher/student connection. And sense of community. I’ve enjoyed having specific tasks to work on rather than just jumping around on various skills like I usually do.
The class I’m currently signed up for is new: Success with Sensitive Dogs. Risa was a sensitive dog but not nearly to the extreme Kyu is. I certainly feel some of his sensitivity is tied to his GI issues (which are improving) but it’s still something I wanted to work on with him.
What I hadn’t anticipated was how therapeutic the class would be for me. How cathartic it would be. I had to examine my own thoughts and psyche to dig down deep into the roots of our problem. Like, I know any training issue is always my fault. 🙂 But I really had to do some serious soul-searching to figure out why. I had to analyze myself, my thoughts, and my actions to really understand why I was doing what I was doing and how it was affecting our relationship. It was hard. I cried a few times. I was finally recognizing things about myself that had to change.
I learned a better way to cope with my thoughts (which affect my actions in dog training. . .and life). I came to understand that I needed to address aspects of myself that were only hurting our relationship (and, really, hurting myself). It wasn’t what I expected but it has been what I’ve needed. Never would have thought a dog training class would be actual therapy! But here I am learning how to be a better person all because I wanted to do better by my dog.