The mirror that is my dog – or what my furry friend can tell me

Dogs and horses (cats not so much, but maybe a bit) are mirrors for us. They reflect the things  we are having difficulty with. They highlight with great glaring spotlights the stuff we need to deal with but haven’t. Their problems fill some need we have or some fear we want to avoid. But this is our best friend showing us it’s time to change our ways.

I’m in my body, looking at the world from my perspective and offering out what I think I need to offer, do and be. I’m supposed to be listening to my body’s feedback systems to get the best out of it, but sometimes I’m concentrating too much on something else, or I just don’t want to or I stopped listening so long ago that I can’t hear what it’s saying anymore.

Dog's are mirrors
Dog’s are mirrors

And sure I’ve looked in the mirror and even at photos, but I’m still seeing just what I want to see. But I can see what my dog is having problems with, I can see how anxious, aggressive, impatient or bullheaded he is. And why are the dogs I have always like this? 🙂


They are like Tarot cards, look at their face and their actions and make your meaning. For example; they are bored and chew or bark or act wildly, you need to make your own meaning because, of course you know your own situation best, but usually this is not nearly enough exercise, games and fun outdoors. You are not balancing your lifestyle towards physical activity and then balancing with quiet time too.

They are overly anxious, worried and fretful about being alone. This may mean you need lots of their welcoming attention and want them excessively close all the time, except when you “abandon” them. You feel guilty about leaving them and they know it. Often you stay with them instead of going somewhere you wanted to. You reward them for dependence instead of for confidence. One answer, everyone goes on adventures, but there are also practice sessions of comfortable aloneness.

How about aggression? I yell at him to stop but he’s just getting worse so now he has to be separated all the time.

OK, what would you count yelling or whatever physical punishment as? Isn’t it aggression? and does solitary confinement make things more social? Aggression is just a different expression of fear (fight). What do you worry about? When is your body language upset or intense? Then desensitize that a lot with you dog, until you can relax and be confident. Practice at it until it feels like you have plenty of time when whatever situation arises. Then be and see in the present and reward the actions you want to have happen.

What about those, he’s good except this one thing. If it’s really just one thing you’re probably ambivalent about that one thing. For me it’s letting the dogs chase rabbits, I kinda want the rabbits out of the garden, but I worry about where they’ll run to…the road.  Do they chase my horses? Never. Not a bit of ambivalence there. Do they pee on the carpet, nope. Do they guard things from me, of course not. Do they run away? Nope. Take food off the counter? Heavens no, but I bet some of you said yes.

And how to improve these things? Put the value where you want it. What is the action you want and how would they get rewarded by doing that action? The message for you is be in the present and be aware of what is happening around you now, at this time in this place.

Lets say your dog leaves your yard and goes visiting daily. What does that say about you and your yard? Often it means you didn’t go outside (we need nature, we need to go outside), you didn’t play or interact with your dog if you did go outside (you forgot about them and they you), there is lots more to do someplace else and maybe (hopefully not) your dog got punished or you held a grudge at him for running away when he came home. After looking at it this way it’s funny they stayed in the yard as long as they did.

My dog keeps me in the present, a huge gift. And the issues that his actions identify are related to the things I need to work on in my life to get it more in tune, more in balance.

I think, when we say five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell) we’ve been foolish to omit sense of balance. Have you thought about this?

So have you used your dog as a mirror? Any compulsive doggy behaviors that you didn’t realize you were rewarding? Anyone a horse person? In a rider’s relationship balance, mental and physical balance is extremely important, although some horses are very tolerant and won’t give you the feedback you may need to improve.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. dragutin2 says:

    Reblogged this on Dog Training 4 Dummies.


  2. Marcela says:

    Excellent post:) Yes, dogs are definetely a mirror of how we feel. Just like you, my dog Alex, keeps me in the present which is great because many times there are very painful things I recall, but her presence reminds me that I have today and I should enjoy it with those I love and care for. The way you interpreted the things our dogs do is excellent. It really made me thing and for that I thank you:)


    1. Dogs are a huge comfort, Alex sounds wonderful. Looking at things from a different direction can help all of us. Great comment!


      1. Marcela says:

        Yes, dogs are a huge comfort:) and yes, my Alex is a wonderful companion, but above all, a wonderful teacher.


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