Image by Lidia Belyaeva
It was 6:30 a.m. on a Friday morning, and I was already in the zone. The crisp air of a Canadian autumn left a sting on my cheeks from the walk into work with my furry business partner, the inspiration behind everything: my beloved four-year-old sheepdog Maydel. At that time of day, I felt perfectly comfortable allowing my sleepy companion to roam the sidewalk behind me unleashed.
She followed me loyally, ignoring the garbage wrappers, squirrels, and joggers that used to tempt her with far too much excitement for my liking. I trusted her, and she trusted me. I made a point of not watching her like a hawk. Had I done that, my body language would have told her that she was doing something wrong and resonated the feeling of fear. This would have accomplished nothing but diluting my Peaceful Alpha power.
Though I kept my back turned on Maydel for the majority of the walk, I wasn’t being mindless. I could hear her collar jingling as she moved faster or slower, depending on what her nose was catching along the way. My shaggy guru had earned that kind of freedom with me.
I knew that I could call her to come to me at any moment. I also knew that she was very likely to make a deposit somewhere that would need to be picked up. So even though it appeared as if I was aloof (a genuine characteristic of an Alpha), my attention was fully locked into the conditions of the present moment.
Walking Meditation with My Beloved Dog
As usual, I meditated while we walked. My posture was tall and relaxed and my feet kissed the earth with each step. My movements flowed with a rhythmic grace and my heart-mind was reverberating in a yummy coherence of benevolence. This is how animals move when they’re feeling tranquil, so naturally this is how a Peaceful Alpha ought to move as well. How else can we demonstrate to our dogs that we speak the Secret Language of Dogs?
Little did I know it at the time, but my work with canines was transforming me. I was becoming a very sophisticated animal myself, and in doing so, I was becoming supernatural.
By 6:45 a.m., like clockwork, we’d make our way down the narrow alley that led to the back entrance of my shop. I loved entering the store at this hour. It was always so quiet, clean, and zenlike. I unlocked the door, turned on the lights, and went across the street to grab a quick coffee. Technically, we didn’t open until 7 a.m., but oftentimes I’d return to find two or three dogs that had checked themselves in. These clients were regulars and didn’t need to see me. That was Maydel’s early morning job. Furthermore, I had installed discrete one-way dog doors and pre-trained these clients for such occasions.
A Peaceful Alpha Demonstrates Protection
It was now 7:15 a.m., and a swell of 11 familiar dogs had already arrived and settled in. I had had my coffee, the incense had been lit, and soft classical music was serenading in the background. I was organized, energized, and viscerally present, sitting in my meditation chair in the back corner of my doggie daycare.
Nine of the dogs were clustered around my feet. They were sitting or lying in the shape of a semicircle. It felt like our consciousnesses had merged, amplifying the vibe of tranquil alertness in me.
Not only had I not said a word to them since they had arrived, I hadn’t touched them nor allowed the angle of my upper torso to line up directly in their path. Instead, the majority of my attention was channeled toward the bells, which were hanging on the front door. One of the responsibilities of a Peaceful Alpha is to demonstrate protection of the territory. Judging by the relaxed energy of my pack, I clearly had this base covered.
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Setting the Tone for the Dog's Entire Day
Though the lights were on in the shop, new clients driving by would have been initially confused because, as usual, there was no one up front in the reception area. I didn’t like to bring staff in until 9 a.m. Those first two hours were sacred for me. It was when I set the tone for the dogs for the entire day.
Over the next few hours, the phone would ring up to a dozen times and another 10 to 15 dogs would arrive. I’d interact with the clients when they dropped their pets off, make bookings, and listen to grooming instructions. While I was doing all of this, I was careful to silently play the angles with the pack, demonstrate mastery over the territory, and attune myself to the dogs’ Calming Signals. You see, dogs only exist in the present moment—I could never turn off my communication with them.
My tone of voice, posture, and emotional energy stayed in constant communication with the canines, even though it seemed as though I was oblivious of them. If (and when) they acted up, my use of timing, touch, sound, and the Forbidden Angle gave me considerable power of influence to rebalance them emotionally and take them back into a calm state.
Should these not work, I’d simply put some fresh kibble into a single bowl in the middle of the room, but I wouldn’t let any of them touch it—at least not at first. When you control the resources, you also control the energy. As dogs would calm down and focus on the powerful scent they were attracted to, I would reward only the ones who went through the full Sequence of Surrender and lay down with their chins on the floor. These actions communicated to the pack exactly how I expected them all to behave.
Learning to Communicate Consciously with Your Dog
This was my morning routine, six days a week, for nearly a decade. As my business matured, I was able to build a great team and evolve my line of work. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but word got out and I was sought after as a master dog trainer. With no formal education in the field, I never really considered myself to be what people thought I was. Instead, I liked to view myself as someone who teaches people how to communicate with their dog.
My approach was to introduce my clients into the realm of animal consciousness, resource-guarding theory, territory management, hypnotic training exercises, and of course, the Secret Language of Dogs. In my heart, I knew I wasn’t teaching people how to train their dogs; I was spreading light, leveraging the Law of Attraction, introducing cutting-edge meditation techniques, and attempting to lead like a gentle soul.
It is my opinion that no dog ever thinks that they are the one who is misbehaving. That’s something we project onto them. I also believe that dogs are very empathetic, highly conscious, and incredibly attuned to their owner’s emotional fields. Our dogs are literally our reflections; they absorb our unconscious “baggage,” if you will. If we’re anxious, they’re anxious. If we’re stressed, they’re afraid something is wrong. If we’re loud, looking at our phones, or tuned out, they lose faith in our ability to keep them feeling safe (yet they still love us, this never ends).
I’ve come to see that any problematic behavior our dogs exhibit—whether it be lunging, jumping, whining, or barking—is simply the canine’s attempt to act out these unpleasant emotions from their body so that they can rebalance their own energy.
A calm dog is always a good dog. This is true even if the canine doesn’t know any commands nor has had any training whatsoever.
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Reprinted with permission.
BOOK: Enlightened Dog Training
Enlightened Dog Training: Become the Peaceful Alpha Your Dog Needs and Respects
by Jesse Sternberg.
A complete guide to raising and relating to your pet in a mindful way that leads to calm, intuitively-obedient dogs. Helping you cultivate empathy, awareness, and confidence to become the peaceful alpha your dog craves, this guide shows how to strengthen your human-animal bond, communicate with actions, and command with respect and love.
• Reveals the principles of the secret language of the animal kingdom to help you communicate with your pet and read their signals
• Offers cutting-edge, unique solutions to everyday canine problems by looking at behavioral issues through the lens of your pet’s emotions
• Shares training exercises and powerful meditative practices to do with your pet as well as on your own to help soothe anxiety, overcome aggression issues, and transform tension into harmony
Click here for more info and/or to order this paperback book. Also available as a Kindle edition.
About the Author
Jesse Sternberg is a mindfulness teacher, meditation instructor, and master dog trainer. The founder of the Peaceful Alpha Project, he has been working with animals for more than 30 years.
For more information on his work, visit the Author's Website at: PeacefulAlpha.com.