Step Out of Your Comfort Zone – Good for the Dog; Good for You

Honey the Golden Retriever goes on a boat ride in the Thousand Islands.

If you want to stretch me, couldn’t we do it by eating lots of cookies?

I’m lucky.

I enjoy my work and it pays me enough to support myself. I’ve been happily married to a loving (if exasperating) man for 24 years today. (Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!) I have a cute (but not terribly clean) house.

My life is comfortable.

I wonder what I would be like in a really stressful situation?

There’s nothing like leaving your comfort zone to learn what you’re made of.

Honey Leaves Her Comfort Zone

Although BlogPaws is a stressful environment for some animals (and their humans), I would take Honey again.

The excitement of new dogs, cats, ferrets, and people stretched her impulse control. But with breaks for fetch and regular quiet time, she did fine.

And I think she was glad to be with us.

However, Honey was far enough out of her comfort zone that I learned something about who she really is—her true character.

  • Physical contact comforts her. She enjoyed me rubbing her ears while we were chatting in public, something I rarely do at home.
  • Honey has bomb-proof bite inhibition. Even losing a piece of her tail under a stranger’s foot didn’t drive her to growl or whimper much less snap.
  • She’s a sociable dog. But Honey enjoys spending time getting to know someone more than making lots of casual contacts.

Seeing Honey outside her comfort zone help me see even more what a truly sweet girl she is.

Pamela Sails Out of Her Comfort Zone

Two years ago I did something weird. I decided that at 45 years old it was time to learn to sail.

Mike at the wheel of the sailboat on Lake Ontario.

Should I pack a fly swatter for our trip to Panama?

It hasn’t been easy.

Sailing has its own language. It requires a sensitivity to the wind. At times, it involves math.

And when the wind whips up, it’s scary as hell.

But soon I’ll be sailing out of my comfort zone more than I can in our own little lake.

This fall, Mike and I are flying to Panama to meet two strangers from another continent so we can sail with them for a month.

Did I mention this trip happens during hurricane season?

Even if the weather is lovely, nothing about the trip will resemble my normal life.

I hope that outside of my comfort zone I reveal myself to be as sweet as Honey.

Stretch and Grow Your Comfort Zone

It’s good to do something new and scary.

Whether it’s starting a business, talking to a stranger, or jumping out of an airplane, every time we do something new without dying our comfort zone expands.

The same is true for our dogs. Short and safe exposure to agility equipment, new dogs, or strange noises stretches a dog’s comfort zone too.

Tomorrow we’re testing Honey’s sailing abilities. In a few months, I’ll be testing my own.

Hopefully we’ll both grow our comfort zones. After all, if it’s good for the dog, it’s probably good for me.

Your Turn: Have you ever done anything just to stretch your comfort zone? How about your dogs? 

Something Swagging This Way Comes Giveaway

Honey the Golden Retriever admires BlogPaws swag.Everyone tells me you have to make things easy on folks. But my readers prove that wrong.

You’re leaving great comments in the survey and I’m so thankful for all the help of everyone who has taken the survey so far.

If you haven’t, you have until Monday, June 3 to answer a few questions and be entered in our drawing.

There are two great prizes:

  • Readers outside the United States will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card.
  • U.S. readers will win my big bag o’swag from BlogPaws for their dog or the shelter or rescue of their choice.

Don’t forget, you need to enter both surveys to be eligible to win.


Terms and Conditions: The giveaway ends Monday, June 3 at 7:00 a.m. EDT. Open only where allowable by law. Two winners (one foreign, one domestic) will be selected by and be notified by email. Winners have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only to contact the winner.



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  1. Well done to Honey for being so good when completely out of her comfort zone. And well done to you, for deciding to learn how to sail and I wish you all of the best for your journey. Very brave

  2. I never would have guessed that Honey was out of her comfort zone. She seemed very calm the night I met her. Happy to think I can see her again!

  3. Why yes, yes I did. I put together a proposal to speak at BlogPaws. While I love Public Speaking it has been quite a while and it was bit out of my comfort zone. Thank you for being there as a comforting face to look to for assurance, if I didn’t thank you before I want to make sure I do now.

  4. I haven’t done anything to push myself in many years – moving to Manhattan on my own without knowing a soul was enough to last me awhile. Maybe it’s time…

  5. Well done for trying to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Bravo to you. Have a marvellous Memorial Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  6. I agree. I like to put Torrey in new situations just to get her comfortable with anything we could randomly come across.

  7. How exciting for you. I’ve never been a big fan of stepping out of my comfort zone, but over recent years I’ve been trying, and it’s not so bad!

  8. Sue at The Golden Life says:

    First of all, Happy Anniversary to you and Mike!!

    I stepped out of my comfort zone in more ways than one when I adopted Ducky. We knew we were going to have to make some financial sacrifices to give her the life she deserves. And, some personal sacrifices as well. And, despite the frustrations of the first month or so, we are both glad that we did. Callie and Shadow were pretty much forced to step out of their own comfort zones when we adopted Ducky, but for the most part they have done well. They both love their little sister now.

  9. Happy Anniversary!

    I just stepped out of my comfort zone by attending Blog Paws :)

  10. What a great post! You reminded me of a lot of simple truths I should pay more attention to!

  11. Mummy and daddy have been taking me to some dog shows lately to get me used to being around alot more people and dogs. That’s definitely been outside the comfort zone for all of us but its been good fun!

  12. You in that age where you realized getting out of your comfort zone is a must. My dad always says to me “It you don’t try, you have not lived.” For the past years, I’ve done many “out of my comfort zone moments” (some with Sugar but most without her). Happ Anniversary and wish you the best on your trip. Where’s Honey staying? Golden Woofs and LOVE, Sugar’s mom

  13. Wow, congrats to the both of you! What an amazing adventure you both are about to embark on. We wish you lots of luck and patience! :)

    I stepped out of my comfort zone when I married into the Military, and I have learned (still learning) a lot about my self.

    Happy Anniversary.

  14. Happy Anniversary! I think most men (and in turn, probably most women) are exasperating. It’s just one of Those Things.

    Wow, sailing for a month with strangers! That is super exciting!

  15. It may not be a big step to anyone else, but walking around what I call the big block or walking one dog downtown for a little bit is getting out of both our comfort zones. I think it’s worse for me than it is for my dogs. lol But they help me manage my fears. They are so great about it.

    And it sounds like your sailing trip is more of a leap out of a comfort zone. WOW! A month sailing with strangers. Sounds interesting! And scary! I hope you have a great time. You and Mike deserve it!

    And Happy Anniversary! Hope you two have a great day together. :)

  16. Happy Anniversary
    I wish you luck with your trip. You are a brave soul to be going off on trip in small quarters for a month with people you don’t know. is Honey coming?

  17. Going outside our comfort zone certainly can be intimidating. We have to remember that it could be for our dogs as well. I’m glad Honey handled it so well. I think my dog Maya would too. But I don’t think my dog Pierson would. He likes to stay within his comfort zone.

  18. What a dream trip! I haven’t been sailing in years, but some of my fondest memories were of the stormy days on the Pacific where you were fighting the sea and the wind. There’s something exhilarating about the calm after the storm and knowing you sailed through it.

    Honey was a delight at BlogPaws, as I have no doubt you’ll be a delight on your sailing adventure. What will I do without a month of your wisdom?! Will you be able to mail me brilliant posts like this, written out long hand??

  19. Happy anniversary! I hope you were able to do something special to celebrate!

    This post reminded me of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I am someone who struggles with anxiety, so a lot of things are out of my comfort zone! But I try! I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures at sea.. and Honey’s big adventure tomorrow!

  20. Max's Ma says:

    Great post! Happy anniversary!!! I live that you are doing something outside your comfort zone! Sounds sooo exciting! Where are you going? I’ve learned that’s the best way to grow is step outside that safe space 😉 ya never know!

  21. So you’re going to blog from Panama?

    Seriously, I love to travel, I especially love a road trip, and I love staying with strangers, but a month on a boat in another country with strangers? Too far out of my comfort zone. All you. And I know you will totally rock it. :)

  22. Sounds like Honey did a super job of being a great canine citizen – stepped on, ouch!

    I’m sure you will ROCK the Panama trip. I agree, we need to keep stretching ourselves if we’re going to be limber enough to deal with what life puts on our path :-)

  23. I’m glad to hear that Honey did so well at Blog Paws, and I think it is great to get our pets outside their comfort zones (carefully of course) from time to time. Getting myself out of my own comfort zone (like you with your sailing????) that’s another story….

  24. Happy belated anniversary! :)

    Honey did so well at BlogPaws – it’s great that she’s able to function so well outside of her comfort zone.

  25. Belated Happy Anniversary :) Hope you celebrated appropriately … whatever that is?

    Going sailing with strangers for a month in hurricane season sounds more like shattering your comfort zone to me!

    That’s what I did when I left my ex-husband, shattered my comfort zone. Since then I guess I’ve done plenty of things to stretch my comfort zone. Today I burnt a tree by myself, that was interesting :) I don’t really do enough to stretch Frankie and Beryl but I think they’d cope with most things. Heck, they had a plane crash land in the paddock next to the house a couple of months ago and barely raised their heads, lol.

  26. You are so right. It’s so easy to get in a comfortable place and just stay there….for me and the dogs. We are at least trying to change up our routine some and add some new things. Nothing too scary, but a little bit of a change. It may be time to go bigger though! I have started two different businesses, and then get bored with them once they settle in and get routine. I think it is the challenge of the new beginning that peaks my interest, and possibly of just getting out of my comfort zone. Once I’ve settled in and get comfortable, I lose interest!

  27. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband:
    Exasperating? Moi?
    Happy Anniversary, sweetheart. :)