Bragging Rights

kid butterfly

Before children learn the “rules,” to be modest and downplay their strengths and favored attributes, they neutrally and joyfully remark about themselves. Instead of turning it down, let’s turn it up! Learn from kids and be proud of yourself. There is only one YOU!!!

A very insightful friend of mine said something to me that I wanted to share. She said that one thing she doesn’t like about our society is that we are taught not to be boastful, but that it is encouraged to have self-esteem. She was commenting on how we, as people learn to not accept compliments, but instead, disagree with the compliment giver. Here’s an example. If the compliment is, “You’re pretty,” then the trained response may be, “No. I’m not.” We may later learn the polite response is, simply to say, “thank you.” How do you feel when you respond by acknowledging it with a thank you? How do you feel if you respond by invalidating the compliment giver and disagreeing with their complimentary view of you?

We also may learn to apologize for our strengths and if we mention something we are confident about, we, ourselves may feel uncomfortable about this, or others may label us as being egotistical or arrogant. Perhaps there is a belief that if we own one of our gifts are strengths then we are saying others are not as strong in this area.

So what is okay and what is not okay? Are we only allowed to have silent confidence? If we share with others something about ourselves we are excited about, do we risk certain judgment, criticism and less than pleasant responses?

dr seuss

I may be able to admit that I am a good writer, but Dr. Seuss is my favorite writer! And Christopher Durang is my favorite playwright. 🙂

Here is another example. I am a good writer. I think I am a good writer. I have been told throughout my life that I am a good writer. At this point in my life, after years of practice, successful writing projects, becoming a published writer and receiving payment for some of my writing, I feel confident that I not only think I am a good writer, but I am in fact a good writer. I am not a perfect writer, however and I have never claimed to be perfect. Not everyone may like my style of writing, but I am still a skilled writer. Me knowing and stating that I am a good writer does not take anything away from anyone else’s writing abilities. Yet often, when we excel in an area, whether it is a natural attribute or a learned skill, we attract admirers and haters. Some people will love, appreciate and admire our strengths while others will be competitive and possibly feel that it threatens them, effects them in a non-beneficial way, makes them look bad or takes something away for them. Often it can trigger insecurity in someone.

We all have insecurities. We all have strengths and weaknesses. One of my strengths is writing. However, there are plenty of things that are not strengths. I do not know how to fix my broken car, change a car’s oil, do complex mathematical equations, rock climb, fly an airplane, cut a person’s hair, play guitar, sew, play cribbage, work as a barista, scuba dive and you will never see me skydive! Okay. So never say never, but performing risky stunts, like jumping out of a plane isn’t something I gravitate towards.

Okay. So I came clean with you and admitted that I believe I am a good writer. Now it’s your turn. Think of at least one of your strengths and validate it. Take a deep breath and let go of anything that says this is not a strength. Let go of invalidation, doubt and any interference to you admitting, owning and appreciating this strength. It is a gift you have and its okay to own it and let the world see it. Shine baby shine!

Oh and just to share… here’s a link to an article I wrote for San Diego Pets Magazine, which was recently bought by the San Diego Humane Society. A new version of the magazine will be out later this year. The Little Dogs’ Big Problem. By, Sindi Somers.

Me and my Rock.

Me and my Rock. My Chi-ROCK-Wah! 😉

If you want help letting go of invalidation, criticism and anything else that may be interfering with your happiness and your ability to validate your gifts, I can help. With either a one-on-one private session, energy healing or perhaps learning some of the life changing meditation techniques that I practice and teach, I can help with your process. Feel free to email me at sindi@apetpsychic.com or call me at 619-797-0705.

The Two Minute Trip to Disneyland Part Three

rock on dash

I like to take Rock into all different environments for a variety of learning experiences. After one of our two (so far) visits to Fiesta Island, I pulled over for some meditation time. I parked and let Rock out of his carrier while I enjoyed some quiet time. He opted to climb up on the dash. Of course, I would NEVER drive with him like this! It does make for a cool photo though.

It’s been a little over a month since I last wrote about our “Disneyland” excursions and of course, a lot has happened. I will do my best to give you an overview and am sure I will revisit this topic again. Feel free to email or call me if you have questions about our education process! Sindi@WildTame.com or 619-797-0705.

The main piece of information that I would like to communicate, is that if you have a reactive dog, a shy dog, a fearful dog, an under-socialized dog, an aggressive dog or absolutely any characteristic of any type of dog, there are techniques and approaches to help teach new behaviors. You can also learn how to have clearer communication and a better understanding of your dog’s behaviors. If you have doubts, then I encourage you to do what you need to do to get rid of that uncertainty. Doubts are limits. They can discourage us and keep us from moving forward. It is necessary to believe change can happen. For change to occur, you must first want change and then you must believe it is possible. The same is true for animals. That’s why positive reinforcement training can work so well! We basically show them why choosing the alternative behavior is more rewarding and beneficial than the behavior we want to change. Animal communication, energy awareness and reading helps expedite things, by giving insight into a particular individual animal’s thoughts, emotions and history.

In Rock’s case, yummy treats, praise and affection are now more highly valued than any adrenaline rush or benefit that his reactivity gives him. That is why he now turns his head to look at me instead of lunging towards dogs. The point of reinforcement training, in my opinion isn’t to give them treats forever! We need to teach them the new behavior and make it the new habit. We need to reprogram their bodies with the new “default” behavior. Then we can wean them off the treats, praise and other rewards because it is then their “normal” behavior. It’s still fine to give treats, praise and pets because you love them. But it is best to have the eventual goal to have the behavior so ingrained these things are not needed to obtain the desired result.

Something has Rock's attention as he sits on my friend's lap at a coffee shop. This is one of the locations where Rock has made great progress. He can actually relax there vs. being on high alert as he seems to be in this photo.

Something has Rock’s attention as he sits on my friend’s lap at a coffee shop. This is one of the locations where Rock has made great progress. He can actually relax there vs. being on high alert as he seems to be in this photo.

The one thing that I find is missing in some training experiences is us people, making changes ourselves. Not actively making change ourselves, can not only slow down the educational process, but it can cause learned behaviors to be less permanent than we would like. I use meditative visualization techniques to assist me to not only reduce stress, but to also consciously create change. This includes confronting my fears and “issues” and changing habits. It is unfair for me to expect Rock to change, if I am not willing to change. As he moves from reactivity to responding in the present moment, I also let go of my reactive tendencies. Don’t we all have them? When someone pushes your buttons, do you respond calmly or do you react quickly with full emotion? Working with Rock has assisted me to be more grounded, more aware and more in the present moment. I had been working on being more consciously responsive and less reactive before adopting Rock. Him being in my life has definitely gotten my attention and helped expedite my personal healing process. So… thank you, Rock!

My approach is not one sided. I believe that in order for a newly learned behavior to “stick,” we too must be aware of our own habits and tendencies. For example, if your dog lunges at people on moving bicycles, then every time you see a moving bicycle, you tense up anticipating your dog’s reactivity, how can you possibly expect your dog to not react?! You are basically telling him and teaching him to do exactly what you are thinking you don’t want. If that doesn’t make sense, contact me! I have other analogies and can give additional information to anything I comment on in my blog. 🙂

Rock and I have both learned a lot. Rock enjoys going to the park now. And I enjoy taking him there. I am completely engaged in the environment, both what is going on around us and Rock’s reaction to it. One behavior that has become a pretty consistent default behavior for Rock I mentioned already. It is that when we are approaching a potentially stressful situation, such as a person with a dog, Rock turns to me. This is one of the most awesome things! Let me replay for you a couple of scenarios.

Scenario #1 a.k.a. THEN: Rock has been my companion now, for six months. When I first started walking him and he would see a dog, he would pull to the end of the leash, lunge and bark like he had no intention of ever stopping. He was fully committed to this behavior in this situation. If he could have gotten loose, which did happen one time, he would run to the dog. Luckily, he is reactive on leash and by the time he reached the other dogs (yes, dogS!) off leash he sniffed them, but it appeared to be a civil greeting. Rock isn’t reactive in the same situations off leash, as he is on. I know some people reading this may have a similar experience with their dogs.

I started working with him on walks about two months or so into our relationship. From the beginning, I really just went with the flow. If something appeared that I needed to work on that would be my focus. The main thing I was concerned about in the beginning was Rock’s relationship with my housemates’ dog. That is no longer an issue to the extent it was, but it is still an area that needs attention. After that situation calmed down a bit, I started focusing on the next big area, which was reactivity on leash when on walks out in the world.

Scenario #2 a.k.a. NOW = Rock sees a potentially stressful situation, such as a dog on a leash. He watches. Sometimes he watches for a long time. I let him watch, so he has room to decide what he wants to do. For me, I see the time spent watching as giving him the time to choose to respond vs. react impulsively, as before. Anyone who questions whether dogs are capable of having an actual thought process, would really enjoy spending time with my favorite guy, Rock. For me it says a lot that instead of seeing something that used to make him “react” and now instead of reacting he watches and makes a choice. His default response now, in this situation is to watch and then, at the point where he has watched enough, he physically turns to me and makes eye contact. At this point he gets praise and treats. He totally deserves both! If you do not have a reactive dog, or don’t have experience with a reactive dog, this may not seem like a big deal. For those of us that have had the experience of the impulsive reactions, know that this is a huge transformation deserving of not only praise and treats, but grandiose celebration!!!

Even energetic Rock stars need to sleep! He was watching and watching out the window and then just fell asleep in this position. So cute! I think he looks like a kangaroo here. :)

Even energetic Rock stars need to sleep! He was watching and watching out the window and then just fell asleep in this position. So cute! I think he looks like a kangaroo here. 🙂

A couple of days ago, Rock and I ventured to a place with even more stimuli than the park by our house. We went to Lake Murray, which is in La Mesa, CA for those of you in areas outside of San Diego County. Lake Murray park, I would nickname, instead of Disneyland; DisneyWORLD! Not only are their cars, people and dogs, but also ducks, cranes, squirrels and chipmunks galore! Rock did great! We kept our distance from people and dogs, but no barking or lunging. We walked towards the lake and he found the ducks quit fascinating. I sat on a picnic table bench and he opted for the table top, allowing him a higher vantage point. We sat there for 15 or 20 minutes. Watching the ducks like we were watching Dog TV. He spent some time on the ground, but mostly on the table. He had a little reaction when he saw a huge crane. His reaction was more like, “What in the world is that?!” And he gave a very quiet woofy kind of a sound. But when I validated that it was something different, but that it was okay, he went back to watching. Glued to the set like a football fan on last Sunday. By the way… I personally am thrilled that the Seattle Seahawks won! I used to live in Seattle and was so happy for them!!!

Before I go, I have one question for you. What is your two minute walk to Disneyland? What are you letting fear get in the way of you accomplishing. You don’t have to pressure yourself into overcoming all of your fears at once or immediately. Allow it to be a healing process. A journey of unlearning and re-learning. Discover the many possibilities that fear may be hiding from you. Make it a fun time complete with treats and self-praise. It’s your life. Create it the way you want it!!!

Want help with your companion animal? Whether shy, reactive, fearful, aggressive, overwhelmingly energetic or calm as a cucumber, I can help! 619-797-0705 or sindi@apetpsychic.com.

The Two Minute Walk to Disneyland, Part Two

disneyland goofy

Children may love to see Goofy, but he would be a scary sight for a dog that has never been exposed to such a thing! Sure he’s a dog, but just like Halloween costumes, Goofy could be alarming.

It’s been two weeks since I wrote and published my last post, The Two Minute Walk to Disneyland, Part One. Although we haven’t ventured to the park every single day, Rock has made great progress and is feeling more confident and tolerant of varied activities and surroundings. We have walked to the park, which includes the scary, noisy overpass 4 or 5 times since my last post.

I went from carrying him across the overpass, to us running across it, to today’s progression of, Rock choosing to walk instead of run. He walked quickly, but slow enough so that I could walk and his leash remained loose. We got about half way across the overpass and he decided it was time to run.

rock on guard

Rock likes to watch the world. It’s his Dog TV! As you can see by his upright, stiff tail, he is alert. On walks when he actually has his tail in a more relaxed position, I reward him with treats. I want to teach him that it’s okay to let his guard down.

Rock loves to watch the world around him. He also likes to smell it! While the park is a bit overwhelming and perhaps not a completely carefree experience or playground, like Disneyland is to a human child, it is interesting, fascinating and mentally stimulating to Rock. After about an hour at the park, which included sniffing like an experienced retriever and running free in the in the fenced in area, Rock walked calmly and in a relaxed manner back across the overpass. If you have a reactive dog or one who gets into “mischief” or an incessant barker, or any dog with exuberant energy, get them out of the house! Introduce them to new experiences. Our park field trips, definitely provide great physical exercise, but also, tons of mental stimulation. This combination is fatiguing, as well as fulfilling. Rock is a more relaxed dog after both outlets for his energy. Even physicists and scientists agree that everything is energy! That includes enthusiasm and joy, as well as stress, anxiety and fear.

rock sniffing

Rock receives praise and sometimes treats when he is more interested in his walk or sniffing the ground than lunging at moving people, animals or objects. And it’s working awesomely, as a way to teach him alternative behaviors!

Some wonderful responses to note include, Rock’s choices today to walk all the way around the fenced skateboarders’ area at the park without barking, lunging or in any other way showing signs of stress or reactivity. He chose to stand and watch the action a few times, but mostly walked around sniffing and accompanying me on a stroll. There were a few key times I rewarded and or distracted him with treats. I gave him a few food rewards while he walked calmly next to the noisy skateboard area, as well as when a jogger or walker passed right by us. He impressively, did not lunge, bark or react. Although there was one woman who walked by that he wanted to chase. He didn’t bark or even lunge at her. After she passed, he just really wanted to chase her! We went in another direction and he was fine with that choice after a few moments.

rock on leash

If there is a chance your dog may pull or lunge while on leash, I recommend using a harness collar, like this Puppy One harness on Rock. Your dog will be less likely to damage his trachea or otherwise harm himself with a harness. It is humane, unlike prong, choke or shock collars. A comfortable harness is a safer option than a regular neck collar too. And although a Houdini dog can wiggle out of anything, a harness will be more difficult.

For the amount of time we spent at the park, I really didn’t give a lot of treat rewards. I didn’t have to. His time sniffing and exploring was reward enough, not quite Disneyland, but perhaps more like a day at Cub Scout’s or Boy Scout’s camp. Interesting and educational and experiences that built confidence and maturity with some fun thrown in.

Well… I am going to have to have at least one more part to this story! So much more to tell, but I want to cuddle up with my Rock and go to sleep.

sindi and rock cropped

Me and my Rock.

If you want help with your dog, whether reactive, shy or just in need of some education, call me at 619-797-0705. You can also email me at sindi@wildtame.com. And… Happy New Year to you and yours! Wishing you the courage to confront yourself, to not only help yourself, but also your companion animals.

I will be in Yuma, Arizona on January 16 and January 17. If you would like an in-person animal communication reading, positive reinforcement training session or nutrition and holistic pet care consultation, let me know! Secure your spot by calling me at 619-797-0705 or emailing sindi@wildtame.com.

The Two Minute Walk to Disneyland, Part One

Rock licking my face

This loving guy shows affection in this photo. An extreme side to his affection, is his protective nature.

I recently adopted a new dog friend, who I have named Rock. He is an adorable, fun and very smart Chihuahua. He is also my first little dog. Although he really isn’t little at all. He is a big soul in a small body. And he is very glad I added that last part, as it is an important fact!

Rock has a long list of attributes that I dearly love. Along with these lovely characteristics, he has some behaviors that I am working with him to change. Not because they are “bad” behaviors. I want him to be as confident and low stress as possible in his life. I also want to be able to bring him with me on outings and have him be comfortable. Just as his behaviors aren’t “bad,” nor is he a “bad” dog because he expresses them. In fact, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “bad dog.” I really don’t. There are dogs that have not been well educated in the ways of the human world and they are left to struggle through life. They are often reprimanded with non-beneficial negativity and harmful harshness. All the while, they are just waiting for someone to give them a clear message. Patiently wondering what is expected of them.

dog confused cute littlee dog

Tell me what to do and I’ll do it, but please be clear because your human rules can be really confusing. Some of them don’t make any sense at all. Like why shouldn’t I jump up on people? Haven’t you watched Animal Planet? Wolves jump on each other all the time. But if you don’t want me to do that, then teach me what to do instead, and I’ll learn really fast!

As an animal communicator and pet psychic, I see so often that a dog, cat or other animal is simply in need of additional information. They are missing a piece of the puzzle that their humans may think they should know. These animals are confused, due to mixed messages or because they haven’t been shown an alternative behavior to their current ones. You can’t just tell a dog not to do something. You need to help them learn what you would like them to do instead. You need to give them something else to do with that energy. “No” means more to you than it does to them. Even if that word gets them to stop their behavior, it doesn’t teach them. This is why you have to keep saying it when the exhibit the undesired behavior. Again, it is imperative that you help them to learn what behavior you want them to do instead. It helps expedite their learning if you show them that the desired behavior is even more enjoyable than the old one! They may get an adrenaline rush from lunging and barking at the dog across the street. But if when they are calm they get a favorite treat, they can learn that calmness brings them something better than that excited, reactive behavior.

Hailey on Sindis lap cropped

This beautiful cat is named, Hailey. She is currently available for adoption at the San Diego Humane Society at 5500 Gaines St., in San Diego. I met her when I spent some time in their Adoption Gallery getting my kitty fix!

If a dog or cat or person for that matter, actually learns and chooses to change their behavior, they do it voluntarily. This is what we want. We want our companion animals to learn and then decide on their own, without being forced. The new behavior becomes a new habit and replaces the previous conditioned response. If your pet is not treat motivated, you may need to find some type of food that they really, really love and don’t get at any other time. You can also use a favorite toy, squeaker ball or anything else that is of high value, including praise and affection. Every soul is different. Adjust the reward to fit the one being educated for optimal results.

Back to my awesome new companion, Rock, who I also refer to as, Rocky. And just like the movie version a.k.a. Sylvester Stallone’s, Rocky Balboa, my Rock is complete with boxing gloves, doubled as cute white paws! I’ve been working with Sir Rock on helping him to replace excited, fear based, reactive behavior with calm, confident, behavior. My intent is to help him overcome his fears so he feels more secure and in charge. This will help him to be able to respond, vs. impulsively react. He’s making great progress, as he learns alternative behaviors. Instead of growling, barking and lunging, he can calmly watch and with confidence decide whether it is really something to fear or not. In general he has demonstrated that he is learning that the world is not as scary of a place as he thought!

One thing I have been increasing is the amount of activity in his day. Not only physical exertion, but also mental stimulation. This has come in the form of running off leash in a nearby fenced area in an neighborhood park and introducing new environments and people in his life. Mental stimulation, learning, experiencing new things and exercise are all beneficial outlets for his energy and help satisfy his intellect and curiosity. I usually drive to the park, but the last two days, we walked there for some extra stimulation and opportunities for learning. To get to the park, we need to walk on a busy street, which includes an overpass with a noisy freeway underneath. Very seldom does Rock shiver, as some Chihuahuas do when afraid or excited. However, when we walk on that street and the overpass, it is a scary experience for Rock and he does shiver. I decided to carry him over the overpass both days. As his confidence builds, my goal is to calmly walk across with him on the ground.

disneyland mickey mouse clockOnce on the other side of the overpass, we are at the park. The park and all of its amazing smells and sights, as well as the fenced in area where he can roam free off leash, I compare to Disneyland for a human child. My thought is that by pushing through his fear of walking over that overpass, leads to a great reward; Disneyland! This park is, Doggie Disneyland. This is his two minute walk to Disneyland! The walk is scary, but the reward is amazing! Is it worth the two minute walk through fear to get to the fun on the other side?

I was sharing this with one of my dog training clients today and he asked, “So does he realize that the park is Disneyland?” I laughed because today was not a Disneyland day, but it was a great day of learning. I responded, “Not yet.” To me the three most important aspects of animal training are 1) Patience 2) Compassion and 3) Going with the Flow! If I was going to add a fourth, it would be that training is not going to be “perfect.” Nothing is perfect on this earth and the attempt to achieve perfection will leave you frustrated and invalidated. “Perfection” is rigid. Life is fluid. That’s where going with the flow comes in!

I am going to add a Part II to this blog post. I am facilitating a Pet Loss Support Group with a guided meditation in San Diego at my Mission Valley office location tonight. I need to go get ready for that. But I will write more soon. In the meantime, if you need help building your animal companion’s confidence and helping them confront their fear and reach the Disneyland reward, call me at 619-797-0705 or email me at sindi@wildtame.com. It makes me happy to know that you read this. Thank you!!! -Sindi 🙂