This week I would like to tell you a bit about my Ida and take you with me on a journey that is exciting for me and gives me some interesting insights.
She is a former breeding dog, which means she lived in a kennel with other dogs and they were supposed to have puppies. Here you had to get along with each other, but also see that you had access to important resources.
She has been living with us for almost 10 months now and has turned out great! However, I had noticed that she immediately interrupts a game with Maja, for example, if we move or say something. In general, her focus is always on us, she follows us everywhere and reacts strongly to us. While she doesn’t seem overly stressed, I could sense that this fixation on us was stressing her out in a way and not letting her relax and explore what life has to offer. I wish for her that she would think of herself and her own needs and not always have a piece of attention on us out of “fear” of missing out on something.
But how do you teach someone to put their needs first!?
So far, she only knows how to think of herself out of a sense of fear that there is not enough left for her. When I reassure her that all her needs are being met and she need not worry, I tend to draw the focus to the lack. She cannot understand and feel it because she has not experienced it much. It’s like when we tell someone with lower self-esteem, you’re worth it, believe in yourself, etc. The person cannot feel and understand this. What is needed here are examples, experiences that can be linked to. Both in terms of behaviour and feelings.
So I started to show her how it feels when you think of yourself and gave her examples. For example, when I’m reading a book and it’s very exciting and my husband calls me. And then I say, one more minute, let me just finish reading this paragraph/chapter. And don’t jump up immediately. Also show her situations where I might not have thought about myself before and how that has changed now. Letting her feel into it with me, how it feels to be safe, to have all your needs met and to pursue things that bring you joy. I connected her with my experiences and thus introduced her to a new emotional state.
And indeed, her behaviour is changing! She no longer follows me everywhere, but sometimes lies down with Maja in the other basket under the stairs, even though we are both upstairs. She doesn’t push Maja away so ruthlessly when there’s a cup to lick out, but waits until it’s her turn. Because she knows that we don’t forget her, that everyone gets their share. They play together in the house and Ida doesn’t break off immediately just because I move. She sometimes lies in her basket in the evening instead of with us on the sofa. She is becoming more independent and self-confident. And that makes me so happy!
So you see, we often can’t just tell our animals what to do or how to feel. We have to explore what they feel, why they do something and and then figure out how to convey something different to them. How to do that is not always immediately obvious. And it wasn’t immediately clear to me with my Ida either. But I am glad that I have found a way and that I can help her to find her own identity and to enjoy life in a relaxed way!
Love & light for you and your pets
P.S.: Below you can see a picture where Ida (left) is also dozing quite relaxed, while we even walked around in the hallway upstairs.