What the dog taught #2: We create our own delays

Anyone committed to dog training success with the fastest, most loving results will tell you:

The best way to get a dog to buy into your methods is to make the outcome worth their while.


So here’s the scenario:

Sonnet follows me around while I get her food ready. I pick up her bowl, take it to the food cupboard, fill her bowl and then walk back again to her eating spot. She’s beside me the whole time. Certainly not in the way or “impolite” by any dog standards that I’m aware of. She sits when I ask her to and then I release her to eat.

The background on Sonnet: We’ve come a long way since she used to barely be able to contain herself while her food (or anything to do with food for her) was being handled.

She was a stray from Idaho and life was about survival back then. Here at home it’s not. She was certain to be fed at regular intervals (or else cross my heart, hope to die), but she didn’t know that. In the beginning I would physically hold my little fluff ball back from her food until I felt her relax. At first, she relaxed only for a millisecond after an eternity of struggling. It was enough. I noticed something different, so I released her to get her food.

It took a month for her to realize that she would get what she wanted way faster if she stopped struggling altogether. She realized that she was creating the delay as I didn’t see her as ready to receive.
Back to the now:  Today, I thought we could do something different. I wanted to see if we could shape the mealtime ritual  even more.
Goal: I wanted Sonnet to sit and wait by where she would eat rather than follow me around while I got her food.  

So we began with: “Sonnet, it’s time to eat.” Next, I walked with her to her eating spot and asked her to “sit” and “wait.” She did. Once I was in the food cupboard, she was up! She came over to me.

And we would start all over. No drama. No bad dog. Just begin again. Calm. Ready to repeat as many times as necessary as though it were the very first time.

I put her bowl (empty) back on the floor and returned with her to her spot (where she had left her sitting position). Asked her to “sit” and “wait” again. Picked up the bowl to get her food again. She got up three more times and I started all over again. Three more times.

Then click! She realized that she was delaying what she most wanted in the world – her yummy food!


Click for me: I wondered how many times I was unaware that it was my own behaviour that was creating the delay for the things that I was most wanting in my life.

In what ways was I delaying the inevitable goodness of life trying to make its way to me?


The secret ingredient to expediting the process? Letting go or surrendering to what is.

How many times had I decided to stop trying so hard or stop wanting so much with my ego that it was only at that moment that I was in a state where I could actually receive?

More times than I care to count. And I know that I’m not the only one.

Maybe you (or someone you know):


Got pregnant when you stopped trying so hard? Or after you adopted a child?

Found “the one” when you stopped looking? Or better yet, swore off dating altogether?

Got the job when you stopped trying to win it?  They made you an offer when you were least expecting it?


Understandably … we are taught to believe that “hard work pays off”, we believe “no pain, no gain” (I wouldn’t go after my dreams either if I thought this), “nothing comes easy” (Why can’t we handle ease? It is because that’s the hard part?).

When was the last time you paused to consider …

if what you got from those methods was really what you really wanted? Have you honestly really savored and been grateful for what came of these practices?

Or did all that effort just maintain “wanting” the result?

I use methods that make it worthwhile for my dog.

And the Universe uses methods that make it so worthwhile for me. It uses my dog.

Q for you: Would love to hear what wonderful thing you were delaying (once upon a time)?


Just joining? This post is part of a Human Learning & Dog Training series.

As the old saying goes: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

About the teacher:

Sonnet is a old lab mix (of many things). Since “dog” is “god” spelled backwards, I decided to respect our  true dynamic. She teaches me how to practice “blissipline” (being committed to experiencing bliss each day; and practicing the expansion of my capacity for bliss and being open to receiving it in any moment). Sonnet is a “blissiplinarian”  (a being who enforces pleasure and invites opportunities for more pleasure) and I am her “blissciple” (I aspire to master the art of blissipline).

Thanks Rob Brezsny for the terminology.

Want to read the others (so far…)? Click below:

Dog Training Lesson #1: Be Abundant

make. believe. for real.
Where you fuel, re-tool and attune your imagination. Get your soul to work (on purpose). Ruthless compassion. Fierce gentleness. Sassy wisdom. And oodles of insight.

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