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A new way of working with dogs?

Hear our latest qualified practitioner Toni's story!

13 Aug 2023

  • Understanding Canine Flow

Like many of us, Dogs, especially Northern Inuit’s, are Toni’s work, life and passion. She owns a flourishing Doggy Day Care Centre and Home Boarding business in Surrey, UK. Toni is also a recently qualified Canine Flow Practitioner! Who now runs regular Canine Flow Retreat Days.

We wanted to share with you what it means to Toni to run these, perhaps you too would enjoy being a Canine Flow Practitioner?
Dive into the blog and see!

“Studying and practicing Canine Flow for the past 8 years, along with attending Caroline's retreats has been wonderful, and so helpful. Initially, I booked on a Canine Flow retreat because I wanted to connect my spiritual life with my dog life. I continued attending most years because I loved spending precious one-to-one time with my dog. Then I began dreaming of hosting my own day retreats and adding to my professional dog career. Completing the Canine Flow course and practicing what I learnt from Caroline's retreats has given me great confidence delivering the techniques.
So how do I run them?
One of the first questions I asked myself was: “What from a week’s worth of Canine Flow Retreat can I fit into a single day?” I didn't want to cram stuff in when the whole point is relaxation! As everything fits together like a jigsaw puzzle, what (if anything) can I leave out? Well, I found it does fit into one day when you visualise the retreat as being a ‘Canine Flow Technique Taster Day’.
I allow 30 minutes per topic, although am still tweaking the topic order. I simply deliver the information in a way that makes sense to me and in the way I find people can understand.
The first retreat I ran was very much a learning curve. During the planning process, I found myself really worried about money and the potential for financial loss. Then once I’d made the decision to use my home instead of hiring a venue, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and suddenly everything started falling into place.
Having been used to Caroline’s retreats for 8 people/dogs, I was initially concerned that my house couldn’t accommodate so many guests. With 4 people/dogs attending my first retreat, that turned out being plenty! And with no venue overheads, I even made a profit.

One downside to running retreats in your own home is the cleaning: despite being a very doggy home, I do like everything to look nice and clean. After my first retreat, I decided it was worth paying a cleaner before each event. Although it costs me about the same as a guest place, it frees up my time to spend on food preparation. It's important to know your guests dietary requirements. I recommend using recipes that are both vegan and gluten free. There’s so many different 'types' of vegetarian that it's easier to just go with a vegan menu. Cold food such as salads is quicker and easier to make, with no worries about serving food warm.
There are logistical challenges to running retreats from home. One benefit of having the Doggy Day Care campus is having a great meeting and break-out area, although unfortunately it’s usually already occupied! Luckily, my wonderful partner takes care of resident dogs during the day. To ensure we have complete peace, he takes the dogs off site for walks when I do the meditations and hypnotherapy sessions at the beginning and end.
It doesn't matter how much planning you do, there is 'My Plan' and then there is 'THE Plan'. The Universe will tweak my plans when it feels the need. So the important thing is to just go with the flow. Whatever happens will have a lesson in it that will benefit either me or my guests.

I often found myself wondering whether people enjoyed the retreat. The best way to put my mind and heart to rest, and know where I am going, is to use feedback forms. I created mine simply by listing each section of the day and asking for a score out of 5, plus a final question of whether they would come again. I hand them out 15 mins before the end whilst I make everyone a cup of tea (emailing them out if I forget!). After everyone’s left, I relax with a cuppa and read the feedback, smiling at the comments and making notes of anything to tweak. As each retreat passes, less and less tweaking is required. These questionnaires have provided invaluable information, and most of all, the confidence to keep running the retreats.
Most of my retreats had 4 people attending, one retreat had 3, and the last had 5. Some of my Doggy Day Care clients leapt at the chance to attend, wanting to discover new ways to understand their dogs and learn instantaneous techniques to change behaviour. Even some people who already had experience in Canine Flow were eager for a refresher and chance to continue practicing.
Each time I complete a Retreat Day, I publish an advert for the next event. I do this the same day if I can and invite all my previous guests. If I’m lucky, people who previously attended will leave positive feedback comments on my advert post. Here’s a lovely one for example:

“Wonderful day and have used two of the techniques during the thunderstorm last night, which worked immediately. AMAZING! Highly recommend!"

The worry and stress about running retreats that I experienced at the beginning seems to have gone away. I do get the jitters if I don't think I will have enough attendees, but somehow I always do. Having a monthly retreat (even if I am the one who is running it) is relaxing and fills my heart with happiness - and that's good for my soul too.”
Toni :)

For more info on becoming a Canine Flow practitioner head to our Courses page.


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