Aug 092016
 

Isabella GSD

Earlier this week, one of those giant, Florida, summer afternoon¬†downpours demanded we reschedule our dog training session. I’ll admit to mixed emotions. On one hand, I had been looking forward to showing off our progress, feedback from our coach and getting the next set of assignments. On the other? The accidental drowning of an iPhone in a raincoat pocket helped me discover a strong preference for watching those storms while indoors and dry.

To make the best use of our extra practice days, I asked the trainer a couple of questions about working with my shepherd. Isabella (yes, that’s her real name) and I have a complicated history. She has never felt completely safe on-leash when there are strange dogs around and, while we are making progress in many areas, I wasn’t satisfied with my work on this problem. I did not want to move backward to where she gets anxious, I get nervous and the whole scene gets ugly in a hurry.

[Tweet “She gets anxious, I get nervous and the whole scene gets ugly in a hurry.”]

I’m a big fan of layered, generalized learning. I get pretty happy when, for example, I can apply something I learned at yoga to my dog-training practice and vice versa. Or when my trainer reinforces lessons I learned (and taught) back when I worked as a therapist.

I explained to our coach that I’d achieved some success keeping Isabella more engaged with me than with the neighborhood dogs who sound off as we pass their fenced yards. “Find the edge of her bubble and work there,” was the advice I got.

[Tweet “Find the edge of her bubble and work there.”]

Everybody’s got a comfort zone — even our dogs. And each of us is different. What may be a comfortable social space for you may feel nosey and intrusive to me. Another thing we know about personal boundaries is that they vary according to time, place or situation. We feel a completely different level of comfort and intimacy with our partners and children than we do with fellow concert-goers or alone in a dark alley. Isabella can stay focused on the same side of the street as the low-energy Labrador but needs a bit more distance from the shepherd/pitbull duo guarding the neighbor’s landscape business. Duh.

[Tweet “Healthy boundaries enhance relationships and increase confidence.”]

Healthy boundaries enhance relationships and increase confidence. Hmmm. I can do this. I can say “no” to people or situations that don’t fit my goals. And I can do the same for my dog. It’s a decision that leaves so much more room for “yes.”

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Do you need establishing better boundaries with your #innercritic? Check out The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head

 

 

  14 Responses to “Drowning in a Bubble”

  1. Very liberating, and essential, to have flex in boundary setting. You put it so well: “Another thing we know about personal boundaries is that they vary according to time, place or situation. We feel a completely different level of comfort and intimacy with our partners and children than we do with fellow concert-goers or alone in a dark alley.”

  2. I totally understand that healthy boundaries are a perfect way to keep our personal energy positive. And saying “no” is the best thing we can do to protect our energies. I believe this is a wonderful way to show love to oneself and others.

  3. I can really relate to this post, both personally and with my daughter’s dog, who now lives here. He has never taken too well to other dogs, and definitely needs to be on leash all the time. He’s a mini pin and has unbounded energy and would be gone in a flash, given the opportunity. Some dogs he barks at, others he doesn’t seem to notice.

    Personally, I’ve never been really good at keeping boundaries in my life. Often, I’d put myself in situations, that for someone who is highly sensitive, would feel overwhelming and exhausting. As I’ve gained years and hopefully wisdom, I am getting better. Saying ‘no’ more to situations that I might have said ‘yes’ to when I was younger. It’s an interesting conversation for us all. We are all different and as you said, “Another thing we know about personal boundaries is that they vary according to time, place or situation.” This is so key for people to remember. We change and so our boundaries change. It is part of the process of life. Knowing ourselves well enough to make wise choices, is really the goal! Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Andrea!

  4. So interesting how that idea of “working at the edge” applies to more than just yoga! Thank you for sharing this story.

  5. Seems so reasonable to discuss boundaries with humans & awesome to apply to your dog. If I were a dog, I would want yo to be my owner. You have such respect, thought & consideration. Isabella (also my granddaughters name) will know.

  6. I like this one a lot, Andrea. Even if we choose to push past the edges of our comfort zone, it isa huge step to even acknowledge that this is where our comfort zone is, and this is a step past that. The awareness itself seems to increase the edge of that boundary.

  7. Love this Andrea Find the edge of her bubble and work there. we can apply that to ourselves as well and that sceases the option to be a doormat and be empowered to say no. Boundaries are so important xx

  8. Love how you share that animals have boundaries just like we do. I love the acknowledgement and respect in that. Another great post!

  9. Great article about setting boundaries, Andrea! Both for humans and dogs! I’m getting better at saying no when I need to. And graciously allow others to say no to me without taking it personally! <3 P.S. Isabella is a beautiful name for a sweet girl.

  10. There is so much the animal world can teach us about our own lives. Much like animals, it helps us humans to know our comfort zones with boundaries. I enjoy reading about your dog training adventures, Andrea and Isabella! xx

  11. How fun that Isabella is both your student and teacher…and vice versa. I appreciate the quote about
    “Find the edge of her bubble and work there.” This is a keeper, Andrea. Saying no is empowering; for me I’m learning how to say it sooner and with as much grace and kindness as possible, and then to let go of that person’s response.

  12. Loved this! The more I’ve been firm about the new boundaries I’ve set up the last few years, the calmer and happier I’ve been.

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