By Kathleen Prasad
Aggression, like any other physical or emotional issue a dog may face, is, from an energetic perspective, simply an imbalance in the dog’s energetic state. As energetic balance is regained, the symptoms of the issue improve. When the dog reaches a fully balanced state, aggression disappears. In this article, I’d like to introduce the idea that Reiki can be a wonderful way to support a dog on the road to recovery from aggression.
Reiki is a Japanese system of energy healing that utilizes specific breathing and meditation techniques to help the practitioner create inner conditions of peace and relaxation that stimulate self-healing. Often, there is a pronounced ripple effect when these Reiki techniques are used in the presence of someone else needing healing—in other words, relaxation and stress relief can often be seen in animals that are sitting with a person doing Reiki meditative practice. In this way, the self- practice of Reiki can also be used to support an animal needing healing—for example, an aggressive dog. When an aggressive dog allows himself to fully relax, he can open to the possibility of peace within himself, the place where healing can begin, and can take the first steps on the road to becoming a balanced dog.
There are many reasons for dogs to show aggression (growling, snarling, straining at the leash), and many methods (such as a calm and consistent program of socialization) have been shown to prevent and also heal this problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and 20 percent of these bites are serious enough to require medical attention. First and foremost, education is a wonderful way to prevent these bites before they happen: children should be educated from an early age about proper behavior around dogs and dog safety. In addition, adult guardians of dogs showing the first signs of aggression should take immediate pro- active steps with a professional who is experienced and qualified in this area. It’s also important to rule out physical reasons for the aggression through an exam with a trusted veterinarian. Once the dog’s guardians have educated themselves and begun working with a trained professional, a regular Reiki program can help support the healing process. Reiki is an easy way to empower yourself to help yourself and your dog along the road back to balance.
Dogs exhibiting aggression should be offered Reiki treatments on a regular basis as the issues are worked on. Offering Reiki before and/or after a training or socializing session is a good idea.
Inner Awareness and Focus
In order to have a successful Reiki energetic connection with your dog, it’s important to create an inner state that your dog will want to connect to, and also remain neutral and open. In other words, it’s important not to put our intentions and wishes onto the dog as we offer Reiki. This is not always easy, as we may have many emotional concerns and fears regarding the aggression the dog is exhibiting.
Allow yourself to examine your own emotions surrounding the aggression issues of your dog. When you’re going to connect energetically and offer Reiki, it’s important to let go of these emotions and focus on maintaining an inner attitude of peace, calm and receptivity. To help you do this, acknowledge your inner fear or worry, and then let it go like a cloud floating by in the sky. Try not to hold onto it or attach yourself to it.
Then, allow yourself to see your dog as peaceful, calm and steady in every situation and with every being—in other words, as already healed and in perfect balance. See it in your mind and allow yourself to believe it as if it’s already happened. Your own attitude of hope and possibility will help support your dog. Set your intention that you are there to support your dog’s healing process, for whatever he is open to receive or nothing at all. Embrace the idea that any healing that happens here is completely up to your dog’s choice and openness.
When offering Reiki to a friend’s dog or a dog that you don’t know, be aware that the guardians of the dog may be unaware of or in denial about how aggressive the dog may be. If you are working with a shelter dog, it is possible that the staff is unaware of any aggression problems. So first and foremost, think protection and prevention. Make sure the dog is either in a kennel or on tie-down. Offer Reiki from a safe distance and do not attempt to make physical contact with the dog.
Reiki practitioners do not diagnose problems and are usually not professional trainers. Reiki works because the very nature of the energy creates and supports energetic balance as a whole for the dog (in other words, on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual). By setting our intention and then sitting in a meditative Reiki space, we simply create a supportive state of balance that the animal then either chooses or doesn’t choose to take part in.
There is no manipulation of energy beyond setting the mental intention to allow the energy to flow, if the animal is accepting. It’s good to remember we can’t “send” the energy here or there, or “heal” this or that problem. We simply create a space where healing possibilities exist.
Reiki Exercise to Try:
Being Peace With Your Dog
Open yourself to the energy of peace and calm. Sit in a comfortable position, spine straight, shoulders and arms relaxed. Relax your entire body as you breathe deeply a few times. Imagine there are roots growing down from the base of your spine, deep and wide into the earth. Imagine that the powerful, grounding energy of the earth can flow up these roots into your heart center, giving you stability and peace. Take 10 breaths, and on each in-breath, feel the earth energy coming up into your heart. On each out- breath, release any emotions, fears or worries you may feel inside you. With each successive breath, feel more and more stillness and stability within you. Once you have completed the ten breaths, allow yourself to sit for several minutes in the space of earth energy and stability that you have created with your breath. Once you feel yourself fully calm and connected to the earth, bring your dog to your mind. Imagine that your heart can expand out of your body, creating a beautiful state of peace all around you. Simply invite your dog into the space. Imagine that within this heart space, all is perfect and balanced. Feel harmony enveloping both you and your dog. Let go of your expectations (along with any worries about what needs to be healed) and continue to breathe the calm and strength of earth energy into your heart as you share this space with your dog for several minutes up to an hour.
Common Dog Response
Most dogs clearly sense and appreciate the energetic space of calm and peace that you are creating with your breath and intention. They will show their openness to your invitation into the energetic space with signs of relaxation and stress- relief such as yawning, deep breaths, sitting or lying down, or even falling asleep. Often after treatment, symptoms of aggression will show immediate shifts toward improvement. Frequency and duration of treatment will be determined by the dog’s response and openness (for example, more severe cases may require more frequent treatments for longer periods of time). Physical contact is not needed to achieve effective results. In fact, for many dogs, keeping a physical distance during the treatment allows them to relax even more deeply.
Although aggression problems can be scary and make you feel powerless, as you walk the road to recovery and true “balance” with your dog, Reiki is an easy way to empower yourself each and every day. In connecting to your dog from an inner state of stability and calm, you will be able to support the inner healing and peaceful possibilities of your pooch.
Kathleen Prasad is an animal Reiki teacher, founder of Animal Reiki Source and president of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association. Kathleen, a student of classi- cal Japanese Reiki methods, trained with internationally recognized Reiki research- ers Frans and Bronwen Stiene of the In- ternational House of Reiki. She is a regis- tered practitioner with the Shibumi Inter- national Reiki Association. She has co- authored The Animal Reiki Handbook (Lulu, 2009), Animal Reiki (Ulysses Press,
2006), and edited and contributed to the books Tails From the Source and Animal Reiki Tails, Volume 2. She has written many educational articles on animals and Reiki for holistic publications around the world.
Kathleen has taught Reiki to the staff of organizations such as the San Francisco SPCA, the East Bay SPCA, The Humane Society of Silicon Valley, BrightHaven Healing Arts Center for Animals, Guide Dogs for the Blind and The Elephant Sanctuary. She has also authored The Animal Reiki Practitioner Code of Ethics, which has been published in professional Reiki publications and adopted by practi- tioners around the world.[byob-content-widget block=3]