Our state of mind can affect those around us, including our pets. Julie Cluley teaches dog owners to listen to what their dogs are saying, and she also coaches those who are dealing with anxiety and its ripple affects. I was fascinated by the potential cross-over of these two subjects, and couldn’t wait to talk to Julie. Our conversation did not disappoint.
In September 2018 Julie Cluley bumped into Nicola Bird’s website and the Three Principles. Her experience of life changed almost overnight. She now lives life from a much calmer, more relaxed and joyful place. The best thing is that nothing actually changed. She still has the same lovely husband, same gorgeous kids and the same amazing job.
Julie coaches dog owners to have more harmonious, peaceful dogs, and also coaches humans to connect with their innate sense of peace and well-being.
You can find Julie Cluley at JulieHelpsYouHelpYourDog.co.uk and on Instagram @juliecluleyhelps.
- Stumbling across the 3 Principles when dealing with overwhelm and burnout
- Working with anxious dog owners vs. owners of anxious dogs
- How our state of mind can affect our dogs
- How there is always less for us to do that we imagine
- How we can really stir up our thinking the way you shake a snow globe
- Tips for those who might be anxious around dogs
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
Transcript of Interview with Julie Cluley
Alexandra: Julie Cluley, welcome to unbroken.
Julie: Thank you. Lovely to be here.
Alexandra: It’s so great to have you.
Let’s begin with you telling us about a little bit about your background and how you came to find the principles.
Julie: Okay, so my knowledge of the principles has been since about 2018. I came across the principles, one of these Facebook ads that pops up. It was Nicola Bird, who you’ve maybe heard of. was on that video. And just one of those moments, where you’re like, Whoa, what? I was like, Oh, interesting.
At that time, I was struggling with, I guess you could say anxiety, burnout overwhelm, that thing. I was being told it was all my hormones, and all of that stuff and offered various things, from HRT to antidepressants to all kinds of things that just didn’t sit that well with me. So I was resisting that. But getting a bit desperate.
I just came across that video and downloaded, I think, originally, like a six week course, online course. And then something else. And quite quickly, I just knew I was like, Oh, my God, this is like this changes everything. And very quickly, actually started to feel a lot better. Within a year, think a year or two, maybe a year, I signed up for her coaching program to become practitioner. So I did that. And qualified in that it was April 2020.
I was a dog behavior coach since 2006. So like, 18 years. I’ve been doing that just that was fine. It was great. Really enjoyed it. Did that along with having my kids. And so I was juggling work, kids, that thing. And then I added in practitioners thing as well. And then since COVID, things have evolved quite differently. combined the two in the online world.
Alexandra: Oh, fascinating. And before you found the principles, so many of my guests had been lifelong seekers people who were looking for answers.
Would you classify yourself as a seeker?
Julie: No, not really. No, I was interested in why are we here? And that thing. But I wasn’t like, No, I wasn’t a big seeker, I think because it seemed to me that it came up when things were bad. And so up until that point, I did have a burnout maybe about 10 years previously, but things are just being okay nothing major. So, no, I wouldn’t say I’m in that category.
Alexandra: Okay. All right. Good to clarify. And the thing that I’m fascinated by and what I wanted to talk to you about mostly today is this intersection between your dog training and the principles. And I just find that so fascinating. So yeah, let’s explore that a little bit.
Do you fold the Principles in with your dog training work?
Julie: Yes, I very much do. Interestingly, when I came across the approach that I share with dogs around our behavior, it was similar to when I came across the three principals. It was one of those Whoa, moments, where I had been trying to find ways to help my own dog and I was just coming up against a brick wall.
It was very much obedience and training and do this and do that. And nothing really resonated until I came across this approach, which is called Dog Listening. I did my training and all that stuff way back then. But what I found when I came across the principles was there was almost like I had a new language to share the same thing.
I was sharing the same thing, but just in maybe a slightly different way, slightly different delivery. And it felt much nicer, much more relaxed. Because the approach, the way I was taught with my dog listening approach was quite, although it was very different, anything else that was out there, it was still very much do it this way is this way or the highway. I was like, I can see it works really well.
But I can also see that the same areas look different in every household, and look different for each person. And so coming across a principle that’s like, Ah, I see what I was it just didn’t feel quite right. It’s a little bit antsy about it, because I wasn’t really in the game for dictating what people had to do or not do. So yeah, I think the first thing that really helped was bringing a new language to the to the same thing.
Alexandra: On your website, you mentioned you had quite an anxious dog. And that was the impetus for your search for help for her.
I imagine – I’m just guessing – that the human being in the room or in the house, and their state of mind affects the dog state of mind. Is that true?
Julie: Yes, I would definitely say that. That is true. However, I would want to clarify that very quickly, from a human perspective, we go into terrible judgment. And like, Oh, my God, I need to fix my anxiety. Otherwise, now I’m going to have an anxious dog and an anxious me and that just more and more thinking, escalating the whole the whole shebang. So there’s, there is a certain amount of truth in that. However, it is possible to still have anxious thinking and your dog is fine.
Alexandra: Oh, that’s really interesting.
How does our thinking affect dogs? Or when does it. Can you tell?
Julie: I think it comes down to like understanding your dog. So we very often put our thinking onto our dog, which obviously isn’t true, we’re making that up. So when we can start to really understand not what our dogs are thinking, because quite honestly, we’ll never know. But what they are telling us from what we do know about their body language, and what certain things mean, because there’s a lot of inappropriate representation. And a lot of confusion around for example my dog is really happy to see me when it comes home. And it’s really overexcited, and it’s wagging its tail and all that stuff.
Is that what’s going on? Or is it that it’s just really relieved to see you because dog didn’t know where the heck you were, and was really worried about the fact that you left, and they’re just really relieved? And that’s very different understanding what’s going on, and the action that you take from that place is very different.
Julie: I was seeing a client earlier today, just as another example, and she said to me my dog really enjoys the walks. But when I get the lead out, she runs away and hides. I’m like, so why do you think your dog likes the walk? And she said, Because she’s always asking to go for a walk when it gets to this certain time. She’s asking to go, and I was like, Ah, okay, so really, what’s happened there is the dogs been conditioned to know, roughly when they go for a walk, and the dog wants the walk to happen on their terms. And so the dog is then going, Okay, let’s go.
But actually, the dog clearly doesn’t want to go. But then once they finally wrestle the dog into the lead, and head out the door, the dog then is off first. And so it’s understandable. Why is that happening? And seeing that, oh, well, there’s definitely I’m missing something here. If the dog is hiding from the lead, then it’s not as straightforward as what we think.
Whereas we just assume that a dog likes to go for a walk, and maybe that’s not true. It will give us signs and signals. And so it’s really, really observing and listening and trying to understand what their state of mind is. And actually, they’re very obvious with their state of mind. You can see that if they’re like this, then they’re probably in a heightened state without putting anything else onto it just that is helpful to know. And we know that any being in a heightened state is going to make different actions or take different actions than any beings that’s in a more settled state.
Alexandra: It’s interesting. I saw a little video, and I don’t even know how I stumbled across it on YouTube the other day, and it was a mother dog, a golden retriever. And there are a bunch of puppies there. And I guess she was weaning them. And so they were inside, on one side of a baby gate. And then the mother dog came in, and they were all squiggly and happy to see her and their little tails are wagging like crazy. And trying to nurse.
It was the most remarkable thing, the mother sort of growled at them and snapped up them a little bit. And they all had to calm down. They all had to get quiet and calm and settle down before she would let them nurse. And I just thought that was one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen.
This calm state of mind that we talk about in the Principles extends outward. It doesn’t just apply to us.
Julie: I think so. I mean, who really knows, but to my mind that’s a perfect example of in a very like, calm, gentle way. Okay, she was grown, but she was in a way aggressive with them, I’m assuming
Alexandra: No, she was very much just like, No, this isn’t happening. Very calm.
Julie: I would imagine she’s looking away from them. She’s holding herself tall, she’s very relaxed. She’s like, this is just not happening until you lot settle down.
And that’s one of the things that we share in dog listening, when we come across our dogs, when we come home and our dogs are going mental, is like, that’s not the time, that’s not the moment to greet them. That’s not the moment to engage with them. If that’s a behavior that you don’t want. And clearly, for in the bigger picture, we don’t really want them to be in that heightened state.
Alexandra: As a Little Peace of Mind practitioner, when you have client, or do you ever have clients that have that have dogs? And you’re working with them about their anxiety?
Does the dog behavior ever get folded in that way?
Julie: Yes, it does. Very nice, actually. So the way I work with people is a group online course. And basically, what happens is that people will come in and they’ll go through the modules, and they’ll learn that approach. And then we have weekly calls, and we have WhatsApp connections with everybody.
What tends to happen is when people first join, there’s a lot of activity, and then they fall away and then come back and all that stuff. And it’s really interesting, because I would say that 80% of people that I work with have some level of anxiety, identify as having anxiety, because nearly everybody has moments of anxiety particularly where their dogs concerned, because we’d like to be in control and we can’t control these beings. And that really upsets us. Yes, that does come into it. Definitely.
So on those weekly calls when I’m coaching. I do very much bring the three principals into the conversation, which can be very helpful. Although I would say that there’s definitely space for when I say like more of that more targeted.
One of the ideas I have for the next few months once we’ve unloaded the people for this month, this time this month is to actually target anxious dog owners, rather than owners of anxious dogs. And the idea behind that is to is to really, I guess, focus primarily on the three principles with the dog approach brought in underneath it, and then just playing with it, and seeing how that works.
And you know what happens? Yeah, it’s a really special connection. It really is. I was thinking the other day, actually, I’ve always had in mind about writing a book. Who knows if I’ll ever get around to it. But I did come up with the name. The Inside Out Understanding of Dogs.
Julie: Yeah, that would that would work. That would be special. So yes, I think we’ll, we’ll see.
Alexandra: I imagine that anxious people with dogs can see their anxiousness reflected in the dog’s behavior? Is that true?
Julie: Hmm, that’s interesting. I don’t think so. I don’t think people who are in it can see. That would be my experience. When you’re in it, it looks like the dog is the problem. The dog needs to be fixed. And something needs to happen out there.
It is helpful to point people towards, because obviously, once we see that it’s all here in us then. Really, it makes life a lot easier, because you’re not trying to fix this dog that there’s really nothing wrong with the dog. The only thing that’s wrong ever is that they’re in this heightened state, and then they’re acting crazy from that. So we can take that down, then they don’t act crazy. I’m just covering the like, although she’s acting crazy.
Alexandra: It’s such a beautiful parallel because it is it is so similar with us when we’re in a heightened state. And our thinking is really stirred up where we’re acting a little crazy. And then when we learn that we can have a bit of an impact on that.
Waiting until our state automatically settles down, because it will happen that way, is so incredibly helpful.
Julie: It really is. It’s like the only job that we have to do, if there is even to do is just look after yourself, go have fun, do you know, whatever. You’re going to be in that state, it’s hiding there underneath. And it really is the same with our dogs.
And it’s often about creating an environment where they’re able to relax so that they can, rather than trying to make them relaxed like, go relax, like down there create an environment where they feel they can relax, which is making me laugh, because I think she was going to lie down because her bed is over there and it’s up against the wall. And she’s like, looking at it going because you please bring it down, please. She’s fine. She’s laid down.
So it’s creating environments where they feel comfortable, they feel happy, they feel relaxed, and recognizing where they’re not feeling like that and working up to those places not to say we’re never going to move to your edge. Like we all want to move to our age to develop an involve, but we don’t. We don’t want to go beyond that. Just in a horrible place we,
Alexandra: Looking back toward your dog ownership, parenthood, before you found the principles, do you notice changes in in yourself about that?
Julie: Yes, definitely, I would say the dog listening, that I came across changed everything with regard to dog ownership. And then I think the one thing that I felt with the approach that I share, without the principles, it did feel quite, maybe onerous, maybe like, there was quite a lot to do. There was a bit of a list, and you had to tick those off.
Now, that list is still there it’s just held much more lightly. I think that would be the best way to describe it as like, yeah, we can do it one day, if we don’t do it nothing the heck’s going to happen. And the good thing was dogs is you cannot get it wrong, because they will tell you, they will keep you right. So you just can’t get it wrong. They’ll tell you and then you can reassess and sort it out. It’s a much easier, lighter, way of being, I guess. I would say that’s, that’s probably for me personally that’s what’s happened.
Alexandra: I imagine it’s affected your parenting style with your human children as well, the principles?
Julie: Yes, definitely. Although, I would say that maybe there’s a work in progress there. With my youngest, although we are getting there and making progress, but yes, absolutely, of course, it has made a difference. It’s made a massive difference.
But I think, I guess it’s really interesting, isn’t it with the principles that we have blind spots. And I guess with dogs, it’s just blown open and it’s really clear, and it’s just so obvious to me. Whereas with children, maybe less so.
It looks really like the problem is out there. I know it’s not whereas with dogs somehow, and we never know which ones we’re going to get when, but with the dog thing, it’s like, I genuinely can’t see problem dogs. So when people come to me, there’s never any problem, it’s just we just need to settle down here. And you just need to keep things in place. And boom, before you know it. You’re like wow, whoa, what have you done to my dog?
Alexandra: You mentioned that, that when you stumbled across the principles, you were feeling overwhelmed. And burnout? Did you say burnout as well?
Julie: I think that would probably be the best way to describe it. Yeah, that would that would be the thing.
Alexandra: Do you find that has shifted since?
Julie: Yes. Massively. It did take a while for that to shift I would suggest actually a good few years, like the anxiety and the panic attacks seem to dissipate, dissolve not quite overnight, but very quickly, when I bumped into the principles. But the overwhelm was the thing the thing that you’re like, right, I mean, that to go now.
That took a while because it was quite a lot of resistance. But yeah, that’s definitely a lot less tight, I suppose is the word. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. But it never seems to have quite the same intensity.
And it really blows my mind how it doesn’t matter how busy you are, or how I feel I feel overwhelmed on holiday. And then when I’m back at work, and I’ve got everything going on, I’m like, Oh, this is fine. Just being able to see that it’s like, oh, yeah, yeah. Funny that.
Alexandra: It’s such a state of mind problem. That that we get into. And so what did you see?
What do you see about overwhelm and burnout that might help others?
Julie: That’s a really good question. It’s an actually, it’s funny, because I haven’t thought about it for quite some time. I think for me, the thing that really helped with all of that was to realize that being overwhelmed, I guess that it didn’t mean anything. I was able to, at some point, I was able to, almost laugh at it. I could see it for what it was, I could see my mind almost whizzing itself up. I was like, whoa, what really? To know. And it was like, oh, yeah, I can do that thing again.
There was something lighter about it, something less serious. Whereas I think before, I just thought, oh my god, I get overwhelmed. And then I’m going to get panicked. And then I’m going to fall out with the kid and I’m going to have to divorce my husband in about 30 seconds.
It was like, Okay, do you really have to do all of those things? I think at some point when you just have that maybe a little bit of distance between what’s going on up here and how fast it’s going to just stepping back a little bit and recognizing that it’s up here.
And actually, that springs to mind the thing that really, really helped me. And it’s so simple and so silly, but it was the snow globe metaphor. I’m sure you’ve heard of the snow globe. We just shake it up. And you just put it down. I could see myself shaking it. Be like, okay, okay, maybe it’s time to put this down.
I would literally look around myself and go, right. Is there anything that needs to be done right now? Right this second? And if there’s not, then you’ve got time to go and breathe for three minutes or whatever. That’s probably the things that helped me most thinking about it.
Alexandra: That snow globe metaphor is such a good one. My little snow globe is over there on the shelf.
Julie: I haven’t got one actually. I really do invest in one because yeah, I use it a lot for my dog clients, because we very easily can do that with our dogs. It’s like, Oh, my God, she went out and barked at somebody. And then this person did that. And then the next time this is what could happen and did a little a little a little. It’s like, okay, none of that’s happening. So, yeah, I do use that the snow globe.
Alexandra: Put one on your birthday list for next year.
Tell us a little bit about the little peace of mind program that you run, and how that works and how often you do it and and what people take away from it.
Julie: So the program that I’ve run is not a little peace of mind. That was the program that I did. That was the program that I was on was part of and became a little peace of mind practitioner. But these days, what I do is, I run a course called peaceful paws.
Alexandra: Oh, so it’s the dog training. That’s the course I thought it was the little piece of Gotcha. Okay.
Julie: The dog training, the new anxious dog owners one is still in my mind. It’s not informed yet, but okay. And I don’t know what that will be called peaceful people, maybe peaceful people.
Peaceful Paws is the one that I run that I love and have been running it now for well in various different formats for a few years, but as it is now for about just over a year. And it’s just it’s a place where people can come and be part of something.
You get the course the modules. And you can work through all of that, which is an education on that on understanding dog behavior and how they are, what they do, what we what we know of what they do. And so there’s that side of it is the court and then the, I guess the bigger part of it probably is the community, which is we do a weekly call every Friday lunchtime. We have a Monday evening, once a month. And we also have WhatsApp connection.
That’s where the magic happens, because you take the information from the modules, and then you put it into practice. And then usually, it all goes by Oh, what am I doing? But my dog didn’t do what not what I thought it was going to do when I did that. So I’m able to coach in those calls, is group coaching, but I can do one to one with people while everyone’s listening, which I find incredibly powerful, because you don’t have the almost the defensiveness. You hear more when somebody else is being coached. And it’s like, oh, yeah, don’t do that, too.
I found that really incredibly helpful. And that’s what my clients come back to me with, they love that just listening. And then in between times, if there’s like maybe, like a win or something good to happen, then they’ll share it in the group. Or if they’re having a panic, they’ll share that in the WhatsApp group. And we can keep everybody on track. I guess from when I first started it, with just a few people in it, we’ve now got 20 or so, it’s, it’s just been so beautiful to see how everybody has supported each other. It’s just a really beautiful space and really, really love it.
So that’s where I mainly do my work, actually. I find the format works really well. When people first come in, they do have a one to one with me like this. So I can get to know them and their dog really well personally just to start them off. And then go from there in the in the group space. It’s really special. I really, I really love it.
It’s a brilliant opportunity. It’s a brilliant way. And if it hadn’t been for COVID, I’m not sure it would have taken off in the way it has, because a lot of people couldn’t get their head around. Well, I need you to come and see my dog. Yes. So do you know the idea that I can help your dog when you know, really? Your dog’s just lying at your feet?
To be honest, I had known before COVID that that was a thing, because I could see that people learnt way better when I wasn’t there. Oh, think about it. You know, if you have someone come to your home, you’re already on edge. Because you’re like, Oh, God, what’s the dog going to do? And is it going to be bad enough? Because sometimes people like, now he’s being really good. I wanted to do thing so that you can see, and I’m like, I believe you. I believe you.
As long as there’s like that two way trust, and that they believe that I believe them, then we’re all singing off the same hymn sheet and then then it’s fine. In a much more relaxed atmosphere to whereas when the dogs there it’s a bit of a distraction. And you’re really only dealing with whatever is happening in that moment, rather than the whole day or week that the dog is living with you. Does that make sense?
Do you work with people one on one from a three principles perspective, like about anxiety?
Julie: Yes, I do. I do the one on one thing. And I do enjoy the one on one thing, but I actually I think I deep down I prefer the group thing. Which is one of the reasons why this anxious dog owners coming to mind. But I do understand that when you’re feeling anxious, you maybe don’t want to be with other people. So I can see that there’s space for all of it.
For me, I’m quite excited about seeing what happens with the helping people from the owner recognizing their anxiety and wanting help with that. And then subsequently that will have an effects on the dog. So it’s the same, just a slightly different take on it.
Alexandra: We’re coming up almost to the end of our time here together.
Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you’d like to share?
Julie: I think if anybody is watching this this week, and they are interested and want to come and find out what I’m talking about, principles and all that stuff, I can send you the link, I have a free three days of action that I’m going to do next week. I’m just going to spend some time we’re going to do some trainings each morning, and then a q&a.
It’s an opportunity for people to bring their particular question or their particular issue to me, and I can answer that directly in the right direction. I do that every few months, just as a way to make sure that this information is accessible to everybody, to be honest, you want it to be accessible to as many people as are possibly interested, because not only does it help us, the human, it’s the dogs and being an advocate for the dog. So the more people that can be touched by that. Yes, so yeah. So if anybody is happening to does happen to be listening to that this week, then they would I’d love to see them in that in that space.
Alexandra: I can put a link in the show notes. Unbrokenpodcast.com.
Speaking of which, tell us where we can find out more about you and your work.
Julie: My website is JulieHelpYouHelpYourDog.co.uk. And there are blogs. And there’s a free ebook that will that you can just download. There’s lots of there’s lots of things on there.
I am on Instagram as well. But I don’t use it that much. So I’m not even going to tell you about. Yeah. I’m just like, oh, and I’m also on LinkedIn now, as well. So do we clearly on LinkedIn? And yeah, I do do a bit of work in that space. But yeah, I just find the social media. Talking about overwhelming. Yeah,
Alexandra: I hear that. I’m not a dog owner, but I signed up for – you have a free video as well, about anxious dogs, and I found it really informative. I don’t have a dog, but I really enjoyed it.
Julie: And that’s the thing, it is quite fascinating just to see what’s going on. And to even just, I often say to people, if they are scared of dogs there’s things that you can do, actually.
I’m going to just share that with you right now is that if you are scared of a dog, and they’re running up to you. So the first thing is, if you’re find yourself among dogs, is just don’t make any eye contact. Whatever you do, do not make any eye contact, keep your eyes above the dog level.
You can take your hands and keep them out of the way, cross your arms, because then there’s nothing for the dog to grab. That helps, crossing your arms, keeping your eyes above the dog level, and then just not turning your back but just sort of turning like that, side on. You don’t want to turn back on in case you know. And whatever you do, don’t run.
Alexandra: Yes. Oh, that’s great. Thanks for those tips for anyone who’s anxious about dogs.
Julie: I will say to people with kids just say to them because kids are really good at like when you give them an action to do not are not doing to know what it means, like, don’t make eye contact. They’re like, what do you mean, looking for kids, just cross your arms and look at the sky.
Really powerful. Because then there’s no threat then for the dog and the dog will like literally 99.9% of the time just come to a halt and go in there. Whereas if you going like this and looking at them and going, Oh, I’m scared to talk like, Oh, great. Yeah. We’ll be having.
Alexandra: Yes, yeah. Oh, awesome. All right. Great. Well, thank you for that tip, Julie. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Julie: Thank you so much for inviting me on. It’s been lovely.