You (and your dog) are what you can perform skillfully without thinking about it
1. ABC's of a New Habit
If I asked you to say the ABC's as an adult, you wouldn't think about it for a second. You just say it. If I asked you name the periodic chart of elements, you might be able to give me a couple... H2O is water, FE is iron. I can't think of any others at the top of my head at the moment.
I never drilled myself on that chart over and over again like I did the ABC's.
When you practice something so often you can do it without thinking about it, you know it. It's a habit.
2. Driving on Interstate 5 in San Diego
Crazy traffic all the time. 85 miles an hour. 6 and 7 lanes going on the time. And yet you are actually texting while driving. You are listening to an audio, taking a phone call, texting, all in bumper to bumper traffic.
You arrive at your destination and don't even remember how you got there.
You've practiced daily for years. You can drive in complex situations without thinking about it.
3. Morning Coffee
There's a very good chance that when you get up in the morning you do the same exact routine to start your day. You do the same exact things in a patterned format, from brushing your teeth to making coffee.
I get up and put water on to heat up. Choose a mug, grab the pour over coffee cone. Open the cabinet to get the filter and the coffee. Put the filter in the cone. Scoop the coffee grounds into the filter. By that point the water is heated. Pour the water into the cone and let it drip. Enjoy the cup of coffee.
That routine video-ed over 30 days would find an overlay of the same exact movements day after day. Routine. You do it without thinking about it.
4. Your Dog Pulls on the Leash
It's sooo frustrating. To the point that you don't enjoy taking your dog for the much needed exercise you both need. It's not fun. It's downright irritating.
But here's the deal, you're dog's doing it without even thinking about it because it's what he's always done.
Fundamentals are something you practice every single day. To change a habit, like leash pulling you have to practice a new way. Every single day. It may look different than you think it should. For instance, a walk may not be a forward motion or and out and back route. Instead it may be backing up and doing what I call dancing with dogs. Get your dog's focus on staying with you.
Most people get frustrated after a week of trying and feeling like they aren't getting anywhere. But think about it. All of things mention about, took longer than a week to master. Maybe making coffee is a bit easier to grasp for most, but you get the idea.
If your dog pulls on the leash try the dancing with dogs technique for at least 30 days and see how your dog starts to focus on walking with you.
5. Your dog jumps on people
Your dog jumps on you and other people as a standard greeting. No one thinks it's cool but your dog.
Practice telling your dog sit every time she approaches you. Practice sit every time your dog approaches someone else. Prompt every single time, before your dog jumps. Do it so many times that your dog sees a person and sits because she's become so skillful at it she does it without thinking about it.
6. Calming the Chaos Experiment
You can't change a bad habit without effort. You can't change a bad habit without practicing a new habit. Consistency is key. You don't want to feel an underlying sense of anxiety every day... you don't want your dog a mess when you even think about leaving, fearful of the oddest things or selectively reactive to other dogs, pulling on the leash?
You've got to practice a new habit so much that you and your dog can do it skillfully without thinking about it.
Want 30 days of letting go of anxiety, having a peaceful walk with your dog while feeling grateful for where you are right now with your dog as best friend co-pilot? Join the Experiment here!