Pearly Gaits: You and Dogs Moving Balanced and Confident

Confidence and balance

There is a connection between the confidence and balance of the handler/PetMassageTM practitioner and the confidence and balance of dog.

In the show ring, the handler and dog must have a strong bond to be successful. If the handler is sick, nervous, unsure, with physical issues, etc, the dog will not perform to its best potential.

The emotional and physical beingness of the handler is picked up by the dog and the dog will respond accordingly. Even when someone takes the leash and handles a dog that they don’t know, as the PetMassage practitioner does during the initial walking assessment, the dog picks up on how that person feels.

Successful dog handlers have attested that when their gait shows confidence and balance, the dog will run great!

This is a quote from a PetMassageTM graduate who shows dogs. “Showing my boy, who has a beautiful gait, when I feel confident and on my game, I can feel we are “one” running together. It’s a great feeling and fun to see on video as it shows how much in sync we are. When I am off, (my male dog) is off and doesn’t run as well. On the other hand, I am not confident with my girl and have issues with her gaiting. A few judges have said they would have put her up if it weren’t for her gait. When (she) wins, it is when I transmit a confidence to her as well as have fun. She is my silly girl while my boy is serious.

“While it actually starts with the dog and handler before entering the ring, situations can turn around in the ring with the handler’s attitude. I’ve seen dogs shut down when you can see the handler get frustrated, upset.

“No matter how much training a dog may have had, they pick up on their handler’s emotions and perform accordingly.”

The confidence and balance of the handler is transmitted to the dog. And, it follows that the transmission flows the other way, as well. A nervous or frightened dog will illicit the anxiety in the handler. When that happens, the handler needs to remember that she is in charge of her own destiny. The decision is hers to make. She must regroup with breathing, slowing her heart rate and grounding through straightening her posture and feeling her solid connection to the floor through her shoes.

The leash

The leash is the most obvious connection we have. It is the most ready means for a quick and clear correction. Even if you are the most passionate supporter of positive reinforcement training, the fact that your dog is wearing a collar and is on a leash, is still a variant of the jerk and pop negative training methods of old. When your dog pulls ahead too much, she will feel the neck pinch. If your dog is on a harness, the pinch will be felt elsewhere, like on the shoulders, the chest, and the sensitive skin under the arm.

Beyond the leash connection

The leash connection is just a part of what is felt.

Besides the leash, the handler expresses herself through her breathing, heart rate, posture, and gait. Each projects the level of confidence or concern that she is carrying at that moment in time. And, the dog will pick up on these cues and respond by supporting whatever he senses. Is the handler holding her breath or breathing rapidly? Something must be wrong. There must be danger lurking near. Is the handler’s heart rate (and eye pupil pulse) erratic? Something must be frightening her. Is her posture slumped? She must be cowering. Is her gait uneven? She must be injured.

Habituated variations in normal patterns

The stress of the moment does have an effect on us. That’s normal. That’s healthy. Posture and gait are aspects of ourselves that we can change. At various times in our lives, we developed some habits. Some were good habits; some, not so much. At some point in the distant past, you sustained an injury and when we moved, it hurt. You learned only the way to deal with the discomfort was to alter the way you held your body and restrict movement.

At the time you were injured there were good reasons for these physiological distortions. But that injury has since, healed. You continue to move: as if. As if you were still avoiding the pain. As if you were still having trouble breathing deeply. As if you still didn’t have the balance or strength. The posture and gait you have, is what evolved as your patterns of movement became habits. The limp, the turned out foot, the raised shoulder, the chicken wing elbow, the uneven tilt of the pelvis, tight hips, loose tongue, and the forward jutting chin, are just habits. They may no longer serve you. Now, the rest of your body has to work extra hard to compensate for these unhealthy habits; habits your dog continues to interpret in his own understanding of universal body language.

Dogs will follow your lead.

It follows that when you move more comfortably you will interact with dogs with increased balance, stability and confidence. Dogs will follow your lead. Just like the dog in the show ring, they will move with increased balance, stability and confidence

Before you enter the ring, before you accept the leash from one of your clients to walk their dog, practice a more correct posture and gait.

Identifying postural flaws

Your mom may no longer be offering her constructive suggestions. Surely you miss the “Keep your elbows off the table.” “Rounded shoulders show weakness.” “Stand up straight.” “Don’t slouch.” “Inside voice.” “Smile.” And, when you were anxious she would whisper, “Breathe.”

She was of course, right. It is not easy to see ourselves as we are seen. We need a compassionate objective viewpoint. If we are going to improve, and we will, now that we may no longer have the maternal mirror held up to our souls, here is a perfect – and loving – way:

Dog Handling for the PetMassageTM Practitioner Workshop

Our Dog Handling for the PetMassageTM Practitioner workshop teaches general posture and leadership skills. This workshop teaches dog handlers ways to safely and efficiently work with a dog during a PetMassage session. When you move with ease and grace, the dog handling will be even more effective.

Body Mechanics Workshop: Improve your gait, balance, stability, and confidence

We are offering a new component to the Foundation workshop. This ½ day workshop will be in the afternoon of the first day of each Foundation Level workshop. You can also take it independently from the full 5 day Foundation workshop.

The workshop, “Body Mechanics to improve your gait, balance, stability, and confidence,” focuses on transforming the non-helpful habitual movements of the dog walker and/or PetMassageTM practitioner.

In the Body Mechanics workshop, you will identify where your posture and gait are off. Every dog that we walk and massage is observing us, watching us for cues and clues that they can interpret so they know what to do and how to behave. The only thing non-judgmental about our dogs is the love they give us.

The instructor is Diane Salletel. Diane completed the Foundation Level PetMassageTM for Dogs Workshop in 2015. Diane has an amazing faculty to recognize and remedy posture and gait in people. She is a Z-Health Trainer, and kettle ball personal trainer.

Now, as a PetMassageTM student, you can benefit from an expert who will help you transform the way you move. Take this training. Identify aspects of your posture and gait that have been 1) inhibiting your movement and 2) sending distress signals to your dogs.

If you would like a new Petalogue for more information about PetMassageTM workshops, products and programs, we’d be happy to mail one to you.

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