February 15, 2020
We don’t stop playing because we grow old;
we grow old because we stop playing.”
George Bernard Shaw
We never really lose the need for play and pleasure as we grow up, we just tend to stifle it.
Our modern society tends to dismiss play as an adult activity, which is often perceived as unproductive, immature or even as a hidden guilty pleasure.
The notion is that once we reach adulthood, it’s time to get serious and that our days of play are behind us. Once you add career and domestic responsibilities to the mix, who has time for play?
Your dog, like wolves and other wild canids play until just days before they die of old age! For canines you’re never too old to play.
I think instinctively we know that play is essential to the healthy development of our children. But most of us don’t realize it has enormous benefits for us human adults and our dogs alike.
There are measurable beneficial health effects from play, and if it is active play, the benefits increase even more.
It also helps that play is its own motivation, because it can be such a good time. Play helps to build, safe, stable and nurturing relationships that buffer against toxic stress and build social-emotional resilience. The mutual joy of the interaction that happens during play can manage the body's stress response in us humans and our dogs simultaneously.
Playing with your dog helps you…
· bond to one another
· relieve tension
· build confidence
· improves memory
· improves cardiovascular health
· stimulates growth hormones
Just to mention of the few of the ways play helps us and our pets live longer healthier lives. I live in the woods on 160 acres me and my dogs have plenty of space to play. Initiating play with your dog is vital to yours and their mental and emotional wellbeing to make play an everyday event. Play that includes some type of aerobic activity that’s raises yours and your dog’s heart rate for at least 20-30 minutes a day.
The majority of dog owners live in cities and some dogs are confined to an indoor lifestyle in houses and apartments with limited yard space or no yard at all. Confinement of space also can translate to emotional and mental confinement.
Play expands the human and or animal experience. Play requires imagination and imagination sparks the discovery of possibilities!
For us human adults finding socially acceptable ways to play and finding the time can be difficult.
Playing with your dog actually addresses both problems at the same time. Because, throwing a Frisbee or playing tug of war with your dog can be stimulating and exciting, and doesn’t take long at all to get in a little playful exercise.
Five minutes of throwing a dog toy back and forth can fit into anyone’s schedule.
Play can even facilitate deep connections and cultivate bonds between strangers and friends alike. Play and novelty promote new brain connections, increases dopamine (the reward neurotransmitter), it reduces stress and helps ease tension!
“Almost every dog-human interaction is an opportunity to have fun while building a stronger relationship.” – Jo Haraf of Bark Magazine
Your dogs need play as much or even more than you do. If you watch dogs long enough you notice that play is an essential part of their social connections with other dogs. Play is the glue that holds them together.
· Play Frisbee
· Rough house
· Play Fetch
· Play Hide and Seek
· Run with your dog
After a great play time session with your Canine companion remember to drink plenty of fresh water to hydrate your brains, bodies and spirits!
“Meditate to be doggly minded” Wolf Daddy February 3, 2020
Dog lover and life-long meditator, James Jacobson, and his dog, Maui, introduce the simple, non-dogmatic meditation method that they have been using and teaching for over a decade.
There is no downside to meditation. The time that we devote to it, we make up for exponentially in the clarity and peace that it brings to the rest of our day.
Meditating with a dog is particularly time effective. It’s good for us and it’s good for our dogs. We both reap the benefits of meditation as we bond on a soul level. Meditation is a fascinating adventure.
Have you ever seen your dog meditate, just sitting there in quiet contemplation?
I have seen wolves and other wild canids at the sanctuary sit like a statue and not move a muscle for 20 minutes to half hour. I have seen them in a lying posture like the sphinx and not budge for an hour or more.
I would certainly call that a meditation!
Meditation is about finding one’s center and finding the now. Being present and in the moment without stress, worries or anxieties.
If I have learned anything about canines at all, it is that they live in the moment, the right here, right now, the absolute present!
Well then, if dogs are in the present and the here and the now, why is it that every time I try to meditate with them around, they are in my face??
Though it might seem a bit silly and difficult at the start meditating with your bestie can really have great calming healing effects on both your lives.
Any meditation practice takes time to begin to master, and when your dog finds you doing something new their curiosity might make things difficult at first.
So, what to do first?
Not everything works for everyone you will find your routine and your dog will notice.
If your dogs are anything like mine they are paying attention to nearly every move I make and the moment I start to put my shoes on they are up and surrounding me because they know I am going outside and they want to go too!
They know my putting on shoe’s routine, just like your dog will get to know your meditation routine.
When I meditate it is almost always with a dog sometimes all 5 of them.
I almost always meditate first thing in the morning, sometimes even before rising. Then again usually just before going to bed.
Usually when I wake there is one or two dogs on the bed with me. I will gently place a hand on each dog. Then I begin my meditation for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Upon rising and heading to the shower I maintain a meditative state and all the dogs in the house will remain in a calm and restful state.
Should I skip the morning meditation and get right to putting music on and taking a shower the dogs are also stirring, anxious, going in and out of the doggy doors like there are important canine things to do.
I typically prefer the calm mornings after meditation.
Dogs pick up on so many energies, if one dog is doing something bad most all the dogs around join in the mischief. Likewise, when two or more are calm and peaceful the rest will follow.
Walking your dog can also be a meditation with your companion, finding that moment when walking with your pet when you both have the same stride rhythm and cadence, that moment when you are in that “flow state”.
I like to call it being In Sync.
Not just in sync with my dog, but everything around me.
Whether sitting, laying down or walking, meditation with your dog helps eliminate stress in both of you. Just sitting in an upright position in a chair or sofa with your dog on your lap or beside you, and gently petting your dog with your eyes closed can take you into a deep meditative state.
Paying attention to your breathing, you will in time notice that your dog’s breathing matches your own and you will become in sync with one another.
Heart rates will slow together, stresses will melt away calmness and peaceful things will fill your thoughts as your brain boosts its serotonin levels giving you and your dog an overall state of well-being.
Meditating with your dog(s) becomes easier over time as they discover your routine and begin to get into the same calm state you are getting into.
Just like when my dogs get all excited and impatient when I put my shoes on knowing it’s time to go outside. They also know when I sit on the couch at a certain time in a certain position, with the lights down, blinds closed and soft music playing that it is time to sit quietly by Dad and not get in his face.
I end my meditation the same way each time. With quiet little love sessions with each dog, letting my dogs know that I am going to begin to conclude my day and head to bed.
This way the energy in my tiny house stays calm before bed.
Meditating with your dog is as individual as your relationship with your dog.
So be patient with yourself and your dog(s), try different things see what works for you and your companion.