Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

3 Lessons My Dog is Teaching Me About Learning to Be Brave

It’s been wonderful to get back out on our morning walks now that the mornings are drier and above freezing again. Since I still have to either leave Mr. Oliver at home or wrap him up to keep him toasty warm in the car, Mochi and I keep our walks on the shorter side for now.

Having these walks back in our morning routines has been such a gift. They are an important part of my mental health and destress plan. I’ve missed them.

Miss Mochi’s Journey of Learning to Be Brave

On our walks, Mochi draws a lot of her confidence and courage from Oliver. Now that he can’t join us much anymore, she needs to learn to be brave all over again.

Watching her learn to be brave and process the changes she is experiencing has been so interesting to watch and an important lesson to learn.

Last weekend, Mochi and I headed out on a Saturday morning walk. I knew that without Oliver, she would probably be fearful and that it would be a challenge for her. I chose a trail she had been on before, hoping that would help.

What my dog is teaching me about being brave

Poor thing, she struggled pretty much as soon as we got out of the car. To ease her into the walk, we started down the trail at a slower pace. We had a few tough spots, but she ended up doing rather well.

As we walked the trail around the small lake, I noticed Mochi’s reactions and what it took to go down the trail. Sometimes it was forward motion, sometimes it was stopping completely, and sometimes running scared or trying to backtrack.

The journey to learning to be brave is definitely not a linear one.

close up of Miss Mochi the dog
A picture of a small blond dog looking down the forest trail
Miss Mochi the dog

3 Lessons Mochi is Teaching Me About Learning to Be Brave

Lesson #1 – Stop and Evaluate What’s Behind:

Mochi does NOT like having anyone behind her when we are walking. When she is hyper-alert and often needs to stop, look back and listen intently for any noise she’s not comfortable with.

It’s not uncommon for her to alert me to others on the trail way before I hear anything.

As we walked, I realized that in these cases my job was to be patient. If I let her analyze what was behind, often she would sense all was okay and start off down the trail all on her own. If she seemed a bit frozen, it was then my job to say gently, “C’mon, we’re going this way”. In response, she looks at me, snaps out of it, and off we’d go.

Lesson Learned: Don’t ignore the past, but don’t get stuck in it.

Lesson 2 – Stop and Evaluate What’s Ahead:

As crazy as it may sound, Mochi has the potential to be an amazing trail dog. Her awareness while on the trail, and her ability to find and know which way to go, have me looking forward to exploring this with her further this summer.

Yes, she is hyper-alert, too alert sometimes, but again, often she can alert me to another person or dog on the trail ahead.

Sometimes she needs to stop and analyze the trail ahead of us and make sure she feels safe and confident enough to continue. Other times, I need to coax her forward by saying, “Okay, time to go,” and then we continue down the trail.

Then there are other times she hides behind me and fears the big dog coming at her down the trail, sometimes a little too eager to say hello. But hey, we all can feel that way sometimes, right?

Lesson Learned: The future can be scary, and it’s okay to stop and think about what could happen, and how to plan for it. But we can’t let that fear keep us from taking the action we need to move forward.

Lesson 3 – Stop and Be In the Moment:

Dogs will be dogs, right? They seem to cover twice as much ground as we do. As I’m walking straight down the path, Mochi is zig-zagging from side to side, trying to capture all the interesting sights and smells.

Honestly, there are times it gets annoying. Especially when it seems like she wants to stop every few feet.

But then I realize how annoyed she must get with me, too. I’m just as bad. I take a lot of pictures on our walks. It’s not unusual for me to spot something new to photograph, just as she’s ready to move on down the trail again.

Lesson Learned: It’s okay to stop and smell the roses, or whatever she’s smelling. Grounding yourself in the present moment can help you calm down, soothe frazzled nerves and just be.

Too often we have our heads down, trying to get from Point A to B as fast as possible. We forget to enjoy or even notice the journey it takes to get us there. With our heads down, we can miss a lot.

What about you? 

  • From whom are you learning lessons about being brave? 
  • What brave actions have you taken this month?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *