Copyright © Jose Villalon Canine Coach


Me and my very first dog friend Amy.





We often underestimate how powerful our life changes can be and all the effects they can have in us. For the most part, society does not allow us the appropriate free time to sit and adapt to all of these changes. From new jobs, to new homes, to new family members, it is extremely important that we process the way those changes make us feel and make the adjustments necessary so that we can smoothly transition into our new lives. This entails slowing down, plenty of compassion and nurturing our creative side so that we can create the small changes that make the big changes flow smoothly and allow us to flourish.

Dogs too, just like us humans, are affected by changes. The most drastic changes are often from shelter to shelter or from home to home. Not only does it mean that the environment around them changes, but also those who care for them or coexist with them. All dogs know when someone truly cares for them, from those who rescue and heal them, to those who adopt them and love them. When this changes, and sometimes it changes multiple times, it causes much stress on them. It is very important, when we first bring a new dog into our homes and our lives, especially if they have been in a shelter, that we are extra patient and caring when introducing them to their new environment. We should watch them and let them explore their surroundings first, and not overwhelm them with our affection. It is best to ease into that affection until they have sniffed and explored their new territory, both inside and out. This process could take days or weeks, depending on the dog and their previous history. Only give affection when you see that they are ready to receive it. Changes are always inevitable, but we can turn them into a positive experience with our patience, compassion and creativity.



We often overlook the impact that physical distance from our dogs has on them. One of the big differences that I find between humans and dogs, is the different ways we see time. While dogs remember the past, I don't feel like they dwell on their previous experiences much. They'll remember a good and bad experiences, but only if they show up again and not as a form of reflection. I don't believe that they toil about the future either, nor the many social obligations that you and I juggle with every day. This perspective of time makes dogs beings that live truly in the present. I would say that about 99% of the time dogs live in the here and now. This is something that many people, including myself, strive for and many times struggle with. Aside from being so present, I still do not know any being more loyal than a dog. They will overlook just about any of our inconsistencies and challenging moments just to be able to sit next to us. Food, shelter and affection help, but many dogs have doubled down with much less just to share in a human's presence. Being very present and being very loyal, makes for a powerful combination and an experience unlike our worry-filled, competitive human conditioning. Being like a dog is being much closer to enlightenment.

In realizing this huge difference in priorities and experiences, it is our job as humans to continue to be the hard-working, socially responsible people that we are, but also have enough perspective to keep our dogs needs and ours in mind. Carve out quality time with them, even if it's just to sit together. When you leave them alone in the house, reassure them verbally and with treats that you will return as soon as you can. When you return home, come in wagging your tail just like they do. Take them with you whenever and wherever you can and you'll see how much they will appreciate the adventure. We should always know that they do not fully understand why we sometimes have to leave, because in their mind, separation is never good nor necessary. They want to experience everything with us, whether good or bad. In the end, when we realize all of the challenges around us, it makes those challenges a little easier to bear when we are together together, with our loved ones, both human and dog.


Better communication

In times of social upheaval and accelerated lifestyles, the instant feelings of fear, anxiety and tension come can up for us all. All of us, are in one way or another, going through some difficulty, whether it be emotional, economic, physical or existential...or for many, all of the above. This often translates into miscommunication with those around us whom we love, our dogs included. I myself, am still learning to communicate with those around me in the best way that I can, and achieve the clearest mutual understanding possible, while maneuvering this crazy world. Our verbal language, our body language and our overall intention are key elements of understanding one another and even ourselves. Just as important as that language, are our abilities to fully listen and accept. It can be challenging, but with patience and the right language, we can all become better communicators. I am still a student of this.

Regardless, in the many years I have been working with dogs, I have learned much about what I am saying to them, what they are telling me and how we can both understand what the other needs. They have taught me much about what I say with my body, with my words, with my tone and how I can be a better communicator. Again, I am still a student of this.

In this blog and facebook page, I will try to be insightful and educational, mostly about how best to understand and communicate with our dogs.  The common thread that I have found in all dogs is that they want to be our best friend. That means understand us, love us, play with us, cry with us, eat with us, travel with us, even suffer with us. You name it, they want to be there with us. True loyalty. With that seemingly simple intention that our dogs come hardwired with, also comes their desire to understand us, and I believe they try the best that they can, and do a pretty good job of it.  I help people and their dogs get a little closer to that place of mutual understanding, by explaining the language being exchanged between them and coming up with simpler and clearer ways to let your dog know what you expect of them and what they expect of you.                                                        


Body blocks

I believe that one of the most important aspects of communicating

with a dog involves our body placement and upright posture. How we move and where we place our bodies says more to a dog than any verbal cue. Having our bodies in a position of advantage tells your dog (or any dog) that you are in charge and in control of the context around you. We often allow our dogs choose to be in positions of control by letting them be the first to encounter it, smell it, jump on it, bark at it. Putting our bodies in between our dogs and any situation, teaches a dog patience and keeps us in control of that situation. Body blocks are essential to having a well behaved, patient dog and of becoming a benevolent leader. Of course, not all situations require a body block and letting your dog have access to things, people, dogs and situations is the benevolent part of being a leader. It is not the control itself that is important, but more the choices that we make while having with that control. When your dog tries to "dive" into a situation that you feel is not appropriate, place your body in between them and the situation (be it the door, food or an excited child), keeping your posture straight.  Be calm and cool but ready to tell your dog to "stay" as you deal with the situation at hand.

This video illustrates the best way to teach your dog to stay and be patient.


Self-care, self-love

When we are working out our problems with our dogs, as with any one or any thing else, it is of utmost importance to take care of ourselves first. Many emotions arise from the daily challenges that life presents us with. From relationship conflicts, to economic hardships, to career struggles, to family crisis...they all trigger fear, anxiety, anger, sadness and/or despair. It is important in those moments that we equip ourselves with tools so that we can meet these challenges head on. Every person is different, so each person should figure out what those tools are that help them cope with those challenging moments. For some it is breathing, music, painting, excercise, nature, love...the possibilities are truly infinite. Once we find those tools to help us cope in tough times and we are able to apply them, everyone around us also benefits. Our dogs, who are part of our circle of family and friends, are also affected by our moods and emotional states, so it important to take care or ourselves first and then approach those we love around us with more compassion and understanding. A poem and greeting from the Mayans explains it much better than I ever could....

In Lak’ech
You are my other me.

If I do harm to you,
I do harm to myself.
If I love and respect you,
I love and respect myself.