MY DOG & I: SHAPING THE NEW YEAR! BY JANINE LAZARUS

My Dog and I

Making a plan… seems so easy at the beginning of the Year. We imagine that with the new numbers on the calendar, all things are possible…and they are!!

Even though only the year number has changed, it gives us an opportunity to think again about how we manage our lives. Well, if only we could simply set the rules in stone and follow them, everything would be much simpler. But life constantly throws us curve balls and nothing today is going to be the same as yesterday… Still, it is up to us to try to make sense of the chaos by setting up routines and schedules and neatly writing appointments on our calendars… HAH!!

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My calendar pages look like many Aliens with muddy feet have had a party and not cleaned up yet… So my New Years Resolution is to try to be more organized about my schedules… we’ll see how that goes. Anyway, while thinking about schedules and rules and structure, I started to reflect on how important those parameters are in our dogs’ lives.

Our dogs’ lives are intricately linked to our crazy schedules which involve issues that they neither know nor care about… making money, sustaining our social networks, shopping for food… and the only way to help them make sense of their world within our world is to mark the day with things that do interest them.

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Like every being, dogs find security in sameness. They like to know when things will happen. We go outside in the morning to use the bathroom, we always have breakfast at this time, we go for our walk at this time and we get to sleep in the same bed every time. I have a small kitchen which does not allow for much dog activity, so all dogs must come inside and settle in their own spaces. Yes, at the command to “go lie down” everyone goes to their own bed and knows which one it is. How do they know? Training. What is training? Consistent repetition of response to a request. Once the dog understands what is being asked of him, he learns to comply and then to rely on the stability of that task. There is peace in order.

So much has been written and talked about with respect to freedom and individual will, that the necessity and pleasure of structure is often overlooked. I am always a little off-center if my morning routine is disturbed. And if I move a dogs’ bed, he will be a little disconcerted until he resettles.

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For this reason and for my own sanity, I try to make my daily routine as consistent as I can and that allows us, strangely to be able to handle all the mad stuff that regularly comes our way. Because my life is constantly in flux, with new dogs coming and going all the time, it is even more important that my routine and that of my dogs is as steady as I can make it. If most of the members of my “family” know the drill, it is much easier to incorporate a “newbie” and have him settle in quickly.

The same goes for everyone’s lives, so it makes sense to try to sit down and make a plan that includes your needs, your dogs needs and makes room for some unforeseen events. With a plan, we have so much more ability to handle a change in plan…

So good luck with your plan and your fabulous new year and I look forward to hearing about how the” best laid….etc. etc.”!!

– Janine Lazarus, Dog Obedience Trainer at GoodLadd.net LBSPY #73. January, 2016

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