Monday, April 28, 2014

Feeling stressed?

Have you noticed how your dog behaves badly when you're having a "bad day"? When you're upset or rushed, distracted, or on edge, does he act out and make you feel like you have ANOTHER thing to deal with? It's not that the dog is being bad, it's that the energy you're projecting is making them unsure, nervous, and out of place. Their behavior is in response to your instability. Dogs who are insecure or anxious will show you how stressed you are in a heartbeat, they are not necessarily the more sensitive ones, just the ones who stand out in a crowd when leadership is lacking. Your stress will tell your dog that things are dangerous, when they're not. Your stress will communicate to your canine that the world is against you, when it's not. Stress releases scent, affects posturing and facial expressions, impedes judgement and timing, as well as changes your tone of voice. These are all blatantly obvious ON TOP of your energy, which was felt by your dog first. The signs you physically possess are confusing to your dog and the behavior they often throw is to try and understand what you want or expect from them. If you find yourself fighting a losing battle with your dog, reevaluate your stress level and take a few steps back from the exercise.

Hit the reset button from a stressful training session or exercise by taking a walk with your dog. Walking lowers stress, bonds you and takes you out of the pattern of frustration when they "just aren't getting it" or if you feel like "today he is just being awful." Take deep breaths and clear away the noise from anything other than your partnership with your pet. Assert yourself and remember you are capable of achieving the result you desire from your dog, then be the leader who shows them with stress-free clarity how to get there. Set your dog up for success by not diving into training sessions or addressing behavior when you are not fully present to do so. Coming into training with anger and stress is counter productive and your dog will not trust you. Listen if your dog is telling you that you have too much stress, it's not healthy and they are a good barometer for setting us straight. I have to remember this too.

To the right is Dubs. Dubs is a foster dog with NWBR who has been in our home for over two months. Dubs has pretty intense insecurity/anxiety and is a really good example of how stress effects your dog. The tiniest little bit of stress on his handler's part will mean catastrophic reactions from Dubs, including redirected bites on two other people who have walked him past a chaotic dog. Dubs brings allot of stress to H2K9, but I have to focus when I'm dealing with him, I have to be stress-free if I want to achieve harmony in our relationship and among the pack. Dogs like Dubs remind me how important it is to leave stress at the door and show only a very strong handler who shakes things off, and stays in the now.

No comments: