D3 Training Is Good For Humans and Dogs

Although often we think of D3 as a vitamin, this blog refers to D3 as an acronym for a special therapeutic tool to lower anxiety and improve mood through the Dog Mindfulness program. The Dog mindfulness program that I developed is based upon principles of neuroscience cognitive evidence-based interventions combined with mindfulness techniques which have been shown in the research to be effective in reducing anxiety.

The D3 technique is a specific tool that is utilized in the Dog Mindfulness program.  The execution of this tool is done in participation with your dog.  It’s fun, easy to implement and rewarding.

Here is how it works. You wake up in the morning you start thinking about all the things you need to do and then you’re off to the races with your days tasks at home or at work. You may begin feeling overwhelmed because you start thinking about all the things that you have to do that day. Typically, most of us go into automatic worry on our minds and sometimes we’re not even conscious of that. However, our body may feel a certain way such as tense and achy as well as our behavior being displayed in lack of patience, irritability, anger outbursts right out of the gate.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could remember to start the day in a calm and mindfully conscious way? Why do we forget this when we start our mornings? We tend to have our eyes focused on the next thing as opposed to what’s right in front of us in the moment. It’s funny as parents when our children are grumpy and we tell them, “Oh! You must’ve gotten out of the wrong side of the bed!” and yet, as adults we also find ourselves getting out of the wrong side of the bed much too often. So how do we remember to start the day in a mindful conscious way and set the tone for how to handle things throughout the day?

So here is a technique that may help you. All you have to remember is D3. When you take your vitamins in the morning just think D3 but if you don’t take vitamins in the morning put a sticky note on your mirror and write D3. So how is D3 supposed to remind you to start your day off in a more positive and relaxed way? Well, you need to know what D3 stands for first. D3 stands for three steps that you take in the morning, with assistance of your dog.

  1. The first step involves giving your dog a hug three times, really feeling the hugs, the good feelings, and the gratefulness that you and your dog can have at this moment in time and to enjoy each other even if it’s just a few minutes. Dogs may benefit by giving them the opportunity to start off on the right paw so to speak.
  2. The second step is to give your partner a hug three times and in that way it gives your partner a little more time to brush their teeth in the morning. That’s why the dog goes first! Remember to feel the love, enjoy the love, and the feeling of gratitude.
  3. The third step is to give yourself three hugs by grabbing your shoulders and hugging yourself. Here again remember to love yourself, enjoy the moment, and feelings of gratitude. Why do you go last? Well, because what you give to others comes back to you which promotes a stronger feeling of positiveness.

So how is this related to any intervention involving neuroscience cognitive techniques?  Any technique that we can repeatedly engage in so that it becomes habit forming will develop new neural pathways in the brain.  In order for the pathways to be readily used or become the main highway or neural pathway in the brain, it is important to keep repeating that thought and behavior over and over again.  Neurotransmission is always the “survival of the busiest” meaning that the more that we use something the more that it will be used and reused.  A simple thought of “D3” and initiating those behaviors every day will set a pattern in your brain.  Simple steps can lead towards not just lowering anxiety and managing stress but may improve how you choose to cope and react to challenges in your life.

Neuroscience teaches us the importance of repeating thoughts and behaviors to strengthen desired behaviors.   Mindfulness teaches us to become conscious of what we’re thinking and doing so that we can feel less anxious more relaxed to enjoy the moment. All the positive moments do add up.  This is especially important if we feel down.  It really does lessen depression by diminishing the chain of negative thinking by replacing with more positive thoughts.

The D3 technique can certainly be done anytime throughout the day when you need a little lift or feel stressed out. And even if you don’t have a dog or a partner, that you’re living with you, you can alone do the three steps, but you are the recipient of a total of nine hugs.  Nothing wrong with that!

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