As a certified dog trainer who specializes on puppies, I wanted to dive into this very important topic.
All of us know that we are affected by the energy of each other and everything around us. Did you know that our dogs can detect and react to our well being with better accuracy and speed than we can? They are more adept at:
listening to the tones and frequencies in our voices
observing our body language
smelling subtle chemical changes in our bodies
Has your dog ever started pacing, whining or perhaps lashed out at another when you were anxious or stressed? So often our behavior will accelerate our dogs response especially if your dog is already fearful or quick to react with certain triggers.
Our dogs are looking to us for cues on how to behave. When we are calm and confident, our dogs are inclined to feel safe in their surroundings. When we are anxious, we can unconsciously or reflexively tighten the leash, scan the environment for triggers and behave in ways that communicate to our dogs that they should feel concerned, anxious, or stressed.
Here are some suggestions:
Set up environments and spaces that are Zen Dens
Develop classical conditioning skills for anxious behaviors
Learn how our behavior affects our dogs and how we can change it
Make sure our home or specific spaces we frequent are safe havens for everyone. If we need to vent we can grab a pillow to yell into in our closed bedroom, we can go for a run, shut ourselves in the car, or destress while cleaning the bathroom all away from our dogs.When we are in a situation or feeling a way that has stressed our dogs out in the past, we can grab a long lasting chew or a frozen enrichment option and put them in their conditioned long term containment area that we chatted about in the last blog. These Zen Dens are safe spaces where they have learned how to relax. Adding familiar sounds and more can help them settle.Taking the time to set everyone up for success will decrease the anxiety for all involved. Our dogs are sponges and it can be helpful to avoid situations where they may absorb our anxiety.
CHANGE OUR BEHAVIORS
If your dogs' anxiety does not lessen as you practice these new ideas, they might not be getting enough exercise, stimulation, or attention. If you have more questions or concerns, you can always reach out to me or contact a certified trainer in your area.
CPDT Certified Dog Trainer
The Puppy Care Company