You Don’t Hit the Puppy

Or the cat, or the kid, or your students; you don’t hit when you want to get a point across.  You don’t hit as part of training.  You don’t hit if you want to teach, right?

You might be firm, but you need to be gentle.  You might even get annoyed inside, but you don’t show it.  You need to gently bring the puppy’s attention back to you.

Sit… stay… stay… stay… Good girl! 

Realistically, this is a puppy we are talking about, so they have no inner desire to sit and stay.  They look at you and gush:

LOOK at that!!!  Wow!  I just HAVE to BITE that!  In my mouth!  I have it in my teeth! YAY!

They are so cute, and they are just so adorable!  How can we not be patient and kind and compassionate when we’re teaching them good behaviors?  We are not ogres!  We are puppy parents!

We need to be gently insistent.  We need to kindly reinforce the good behaviors.  We need to get them to pause in anything else they are doing and get focused on what we are doing.

Look here!

We understand that puppy energy is goofy and playful and loving and sloppy and careless and uncoordinated.  We love puppy energy, but we also want the puppy to grow up to be a good part of our family.  We want them to stay playful but be part of a harmonious pack.  We want them to learn self-control so that we can have them with us and not have to leave them home, or lock them away every time someone comes to visit.

Why am I talking about puppies?

Well, besides the fact that I love and adore puppies, I want you to get into the mindset you get with your puppy.  I want you to sit with that part of you.  Gentle and compassionate, caring and guiding.  You are present; you are in the moment with your puppy.  Sit with this part of you a moment.  Make any adjustments you need to get into puppy-training mode.

We are going to learn how to train ourselves to increase our own self-awareness; get to know ourselves better, see how we fit into the world, and increase our happiness and well being in the process.  The training technique we are going to use is called puppy training, aka meditation.

“Oh,” you say, “I thought we were going to have fun.”

It’s hard work training puppies!  You need to be present and in the moment, you need to be ever aware of what they are doing, and you need to keep that gentle compassion as well as a great sense of play.  If the puppy senses that it’s not fun, then all deals are off.

That is why I want you to get into your playful, gentle, compassionate puppy training mode before you start meditation.  Increasing our understanding of ourselves takes time and it has to be playful.  If it’s not playful, just like the puppy, we will lose interest immediately and the game will be over, and we won’t be as self-aware and as happy as we can be.

Let’s have fun then!puppy meditation

Sit down in a chair, or on a cushion, or stand up straight but relaxed.  Get into a position where you are at ease but alert.  You are present to the task at hand.  You are ready to train the puppy.  You are not sleeping because you are in training mode!

Start with a short time, 1 or 2 minutes, 5 minutes tops.  Be easy with your puppy.  Set a timer on your phone or on the stove or somewhere so you don’t need to look at the clock.  You are alert; you are ready to begin the training.  Take a breath in, let it out slowly.

You are going to sit with your body and thoughts and emotions for whatever time you put on the clock.  You, the trainer, are guiding you, your emotional thinking feeling self.

You are guiding your inner puppy.

If your mind strays, gently bring it back to the present.  You are sitting and breathing and you are watching your puppy without judgment.

If you start to think about something you did earlier in the day, or something you need to do later in the week, just say to yourself “thinking” and bring yourself back to the present.  If you start feeling pain somewhere in your body, just label it “feeling” and acknowledge it and come back to your breath.

If you start feeling anxious or constrained or bored or distracted just label whatever it is you feel and bring your puppy back to the moment.  You can quietly say out loud  “anxiety” or “worry” or “boredom” or “confusion.”

Let your thoughts and emotions and feelings be the clumsy movements and cuddly goofiness of your inner puppy.  Acknowledge them, but bring the puppy’s attention back to the moment.

Sit… stay… stay… stay… Good girl!  Good boy!

Now let the puppy run around the yard and flop all over.  You did really well, and you did your best in being gentle, compassionate, and kind while practicing training.

Keep it up, puppies need a lot of play and attention and training!  And the trainers need to practice.  No training day is ever perfect.  It doesn’t have to be.  It just needs to be fun and consistent.  Don’t criticize the trainer or the puppy.

Staying as playful and as compassionate as possible, practice again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.  Maybe you train better outside, maybe you train better in the morning, or maybe you train better at night.  Experiment and be flexible and playful.

Please, share your training techniques, triumphs, and challenges below in the comments section.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

5 thoughts on “You Don’t Hit the Puppy

  1. I love this paradigm for “learning to meditate.” It makes it seem more doable and attainable than more formal training models….which are often daunting. Enjoying your blog and am looking forward to future posts.

  2. Yep…. Learning NOT TO HIT THE PUPPY ………. LOVE your approach….working on it!! Everyday is a little brighter thanks to your kind enlightening leadership!!

  3. This is so beautiful and it also applies to very old dogs who are incontinent. We have a 3 year old Shepherd (110lbs). a five year old Bassett Hound (55lbs) and an 18 year old Corgi who has dementia, severe arthritis and incontinence. She can tax my patience – take her out for long walk, very slowly, and she’ll come right home and pee and poop inside…………..We love her and try to make her last days ( ???) comfortable. I hope someone does that for me when I’m her age – 109.

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