dog on walk

Dog Behavior Training – for me

A while back I shared what I learned from having a stray cat try to adopt me. I am happy to report the cat has a home now and is being taken care of in the way she deserves, and demands. This January, I adopted a dog, Güera, who is teaching me new lessons.

Being an older rescue, I had no history of Güera’s life or personality. I quickly learned that although the rescue center said she was good around other dogs, she in fact seemed scared or aggressive toward them. Because of this, I shielded her from other dogs. I assumed that she was going to start growling. My emotions conveyed that other dogs were a threat and go figure, when we were around other dogs, she was aggressive.

Honestly, I don’t know when it hit me. Maybe it was the nice older dog owner I befriended who would allow Güera to sniff his dog. Little by little, they got to know each other and low and behold, no more aggression and growling. If Güera could be nice to this dog, logic told me she could be nice with other dogs. When we met other dogs on our walks, instead of sending my emotions into fear, I relaxed. I would soothingly say, “Diga hola” and “tranquila,” Spanish for “say hi” and “relax/chill”. And you know what? Unless the other dog was obviously aggressive, Güera was calm.

dog on her walk
Güera chilling on her walk

This got me thinking of all the times I entered a boardroom, an event, or any situation where I assumed there would be conflict. How much of the conflict that ensued was a direct response to my energy of protection and aggression? I started to notice this in my day-to-day life. Being human there are people I dislike or judge. Instinctively and sometimes maliciously, I approached these people with a chip on my shoulder. I wanted or expected a fight. Being self-righteous I wanted to prove how nasty these people were by provoking them. If I succeeded in provoking them, I felt like a jerk. If I didn’t, I still felt awful because I had made myself feel that way.

Instead, I started to approach everyone – those I liked, those I didn’t, those who I had yet to know – with the calm relaxed attitude I embodied when walking my dog. Tranquila Melissa. Not all interactions went the way I would want them to. But every interaction felt good to me. I was peaceful and centered, and really that is all I ever wanted. It didn’t matter how the other person reacted or what they did, I could choose to be in the state of calm.

What scares you? Who disturbs you? When do you put up a barrier? Where do you look for a fight? What if you could, no matter the situation, choose calm?  You can. You can’t control what others say or do, but you can always control your own actions and reactions. Try it today. Ground yourself before you meet someone disagreeable. Center yourself before bringing up a difficult conversation. Embody peace within you and see how all your interactions shift. Tranquila bonita, you got this.