Tag Archives: anxious dog

Good Manners when walking your Dog: Part 3

16 Oct

How to spot a reactive dog owner

When out walking your dog it is very easy to spot a reactive dog owner. It is also very easy to become one.

 First lets look at reactive dog owners:

Reactive dog owners usually have their dogs on a tight leash, or their dogs may be walking in front pulling on their leash.  They may

A German Shepherd Dog.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

cross the road, or disappear up someone’s driveway, in order to avoid contact with you. I am sure there are other actions taken, but these are the obvious ones. The common denominator with all these actions is tension.

It is also very easy for a competent Pack Leader to become a reactive dog owner. If you really want to be a consistent Pack Leader, for your dogs wellbeing. You must have mastery of your own thoughts and feelings.

It doesn’t take much to lose focus on your walks.   You only need to think “oh how am I going to find the money to pay that bill”. Your body responds to that fearful thought and  instantly your dog will be pulling on his leash. Your dog is telling you, you are no longer in Pack Leader energy. You have, by this thought become a reactive dog owner, with a reactive dog on the end of the leash.

This does not mean you can’t be Pack Leader until tomorrow’s walk, or that all is lost on this walk.

You can focus on your thoughts. Bring your attention to positive things and feel very good and happy with yourself.

Give your dog a correction. This may be a small tug on his leash to the side or by simply telling him to heel. This distracts your dog from his reactive energy and he comes once again in contact with your Pack Leader energy. He is able to become calm submissive, and  your walk continues as it should.

Dogs live in the present and having our wonderful dogs remind us when we are not, is a wonderful thing.

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Good Manners when walking your Dog: Part 2

11 Oct

In part 1, we learnt that a dog’s language is energy, how you feel is what they react to. If you are calm assertive, their behavior will be calm submissive. If you are anxious, they will feel anxious and their behavior could become unpredictable and/or aggressive.

English: Dog walking in West Park

Dogs need leadership to feel safe, when they feel safe they will be calm, when they are calm and have leadership, we will be safe.  It is our job to ensure our dogs feel safe with us. When they feel safe they will respect you and love you. They know exactly where they stand with you when you are the Pack Leader, only then will they follow you.

Our dogs will love us but they will not respect or trust us if we do not give them clear leadership.

Dogs are like children, they  need to know the rules, boundaries and limitations.  That’s why as a reactive owner you must master your own energy, in order to have your reactive dog respect your directions.

The energy you express is communicated to your dog. What energy you are in, will determine what energy your dog is in. Pack Leader energy will result in calm submissive behavior. Your fearful, anxious energy will result in your dog wanting to take over as Pack Leader. The result being anxious owner – unstable dog.

Love to a dog is feeding him and taking him for a walk.  But the most loving thing you can do for your dog is to provide him with a clear understanding of his rules, boundaries and limitations by being a strong pack leader.

You can become a strong pack leader by examining the areas of your life where you are already a confident leader and replicating this energy. By doing this you will be able to exert the calm assertive energy necessary to keep your dog in a calm submissive state.

It’s not always easy to do this, but if you can master being assertive with your dog you will no longer have anything to worry about while walking your dog.  Your dog will be less reactive and you will be able to relax, enjoy yourselves and socialize with other owners and their dogs without fear.

Remember your dog is mirroring how you are feeling and with his help you can have mastery of your own energy.

By mastering your own thoughts, feelings and energy you will open up not only your dogs life, but also your own and it’s so worth it.

Good Manners when walking your Dog: Part 1

7 Oct

Written by: Annie Aubrey

For all of you out there with a “reactive Dog “ let me assure you, your dog is only reactive because you’re reactive.  However this isn’t an issue that can’t be fixed.  You need to start with what you’re thinking.

Your feelings follow what you’re thinking and your body will react to your feelings. This gives off energy. It is this energy that our dogs sense and react to.  It takes practice to constantly be aware of our thoughts, especially when walking our dogs, this is called being present.

Confident Pack Leaders, need to be able to recognize that reactive owners and their dogs,  need space to feel safe. But, anxious owners also need to realize when we call out “our dog is safe,” that they can let go of their anxiety and relax. If a dog perceives its owner to be anxious, the dog will attempt to take over as Pack Leader and may become aggressive to defend them.

Your dog needs a Pack Leader, being in an anxious state isn’t giving off Pack Leader energy, so your dog takes over.

We now have an anxious owner with an anxious dog, who is trying to be Pack Leader.

Your dog’s leadership is unstable. With unstable energy anything can happen and meeting another dog or another anxious owner and dog could lead to an unpleasant encounter.

Dogs being pack animals will only trust, respect and follow the guidance of a Pack Leader. Human Beings are the only pack animal that will follow unstable Pack Leaders.

It  then becomes the responsibility of confident Pack Leaders  to recognize and react accordingly to both “reactive” owners and their dogs.  If you see an anxious dog owner approaching then it is up to you, as Pack Leader to protect not only your own dog, but also the other owner and their dog.  You cannot control their behaviour, but you do have control over you and your dog’s behaviour. By being a strong Pack Leader your dog will trust your decision to walk on by.

As a confident Pack Leader it is your responsibility to recognize reactive owners and their dogs and give them the space they need. By simply doing this you will allow them to build up confidence with their dog. The result of this, is that as they gain confidence as dog owners, their anxiety may subside and they could become stronger Pack Leaders. This will result in  their dogs feeling the difference in their energy and becoming calmer.

Therefore we must have compassion and respect reactive owners and their dogs.  Do not judge them, if they ask you to call your dog, do not take it personally. You know your dog is safe, they don’t. Respect their wishes, call your dog and move on. By giving these people and their dogs this much needed space they get the opportunity to master their own energy.

Remember being a Pack Leader is a moment by moment thing and even the best Pack Leader can become a reactive owner within seconds if they have a negative or fearful thought. Achieving Mastery of ourselves is the aim.

How to have a safe and happy dog

16 Jul

Written by: Annie Aubrey & Amanda Jackson

We recently received a post on our Facebook page which highlighted some common issues we see here in New Zealand.

I tied my dog up outside a shop and saw two women let their very young kids chase around my dog trying to pat her. I said to them three times, please don’t pat her, one of them yelled at me and said they’re not patting her. I said to them my dog is freaking out, can you not see that? They got shitty with me and started yelling they didn’t pat the dog.  Did they not see my dog’s anxious body language? Do I put a sign on my dog saying do not pat me?

We asked our expert, Annie, to put together a response that may help other people avoid this type of stressful situation; we then asked Amanda, our IT person who is a relatively new dog owner, to put the theory into practice and write up how it went.

A calm submissive dog is relaxed and happy

A calm submissive dog is relaxed and happy

As a dog owner, you will at some stage come across people who want to pet your dog when you don’t want them to for whatever reason, so what can you do to:

  • avoid any unpleasantness when you make the request not to touch your dog;
  • ensure your dog will not be aggressive or anxious;
  • ensure your dog is safe and people/other dogs are safe too.

When you understand dog language you know your dog is very intuitive with how you are feeling. Whatever emotion you are in, your dog knows exactly what it is, even if you don’t.

When you are the pack leader your energy is calm assertive, this allows your dog to be in calm-submissive energy.  Calm submissive is the energy your dog is happiest in.

If you are in anything other than calm assertive pack leader energy, your dog will react to it.  If you are feeling anxious your dog may feel anxious, this can escalate into your dog wanting to run away, or into aggression.

When pack leader energy is absent your dog will try to fill the breach. He does not feel safe when the pack leader is absent.  The minute you feel any kind of energy apart from pack leader energy, your dog perceives you to be weak.

When addressing persistent people who want to pet your dog the only thing you have control over is yourself.  Be very aware of your energy and no matter how cross, angry or upset you feel, you must not give in to these feelings, you must pull yourself together; Stop, take a deep breath,  get your breathing under control and feel balance return to your body.

It’s down to you. Your dog expects you to keep him safe.

You do not want your dog to misinterpret your feelings and create a situation that at the least could be unpleasant, and at the worst cause an injury to another person or dog and end with your dog having to be put down.

Be the pack leader!

What is calm assertive (pack-leader) energy and how do you become it?

“This is the energy you project to show your dog you are the calm and assertive pack leader. Note: assertive does not mean angry or aggressive. Calm-assertive means always compassionate, but quietly in control.”
Cesar Milan – http://www.cesarsway.com/tips/basics/glossary-of-terms-from-cesars-way/

It is very important for everybody to be in calm-assertive pack-leader energy around dogs, even children.

When Sam and I go into schools teaching children about dog language, we ask the children who are their heroes and what do they think heroes feel like inside themself? Always, without fail, the answer is: happy, proud, confident and feeling very good within yourself. This is calm-assertive pack-leader energy.

From this space you may not be able to influence unwanted attention to your dog, but you will influence your dog’s behaviour. Your dog will feel safe no matter what is going on when you are the pack leader, your dog can enjoy being in calm-submissive energy.

From pack leader energy comes safety for all,

especially your dog.

Walk your dog on a lead as often as you can, this is where your dog learns to respect and trust you and where you both develop a strong connection with each other.  Your dog will tell you how you are feeling by his behaviour.  Before you start out on your walk, visualise how you want the walk to go, have the thought in your mind of your hero to put you in pack leader energy.  Try it. It’s fun.

If your dog starts pulling on the lead, come back to yourself first and check your energy, if that is all good then check to see if your dog has become distracted and make the correction on your lead to distract him from his focus.   The point of the walk is to have your dog be focused on you, not on other dogs, smells etc…

Sam knows he is working when he is on the lead.  You are aiming for Exercise, Discipline, Affection – in that order.  I will explain more about these three points in another blog post, for the moment just make sure we are all on the same page where discipline in the sense of the walk means giving your dog a job that is not over until the walk is over.  This is healthy for your dog as he gets to exercise his brain at the same time as his body.

How Amanda discovered calm-assertive energy

This task wasn’t as easy to figure out as I first thought, but it was fun figuring it out.

Having to stop and think about what calm-assertive energy is, and how to achieve this state, has made me question the various interactions with my dogs in order to figure out when I naturally achieve this state and how best to always obtain and project this energy when around the doggy duo.

To start with I needed to understand how my energy affects my dogs.

I’ve noticed within our pack of three that the pack energy constantly changes.  Both my boys are very aware of the energy I present to them, so even when I think I’m being calm assertive and in control, if it’s just a show I’m putting on, a mask of sorts, then my dogs are not fooled.  They don’t look at what I’m doing, they don’t understand the words I’m saying, but they do sense what I’m feeling and the energy that goes with it.

For me, calm-assertive is the frame of mind where nothing is bothering me, I’m completely relaxed, totally confident, and proactive instead of reactive in my behaviour and actions.

The best way to explain proactive and reactive would be a driving analogy, say you are driving along and you watch the car in front and you panic break to avoid hitting them when they stop suddenly, that is a reactive behaviour, however, if you are driving along watching the road ahead of the car in front and you see a child run across the road so you slow down before the car in front even reacts, then you are proactively ready for the situation, you have plenty of time to stop and have absolutely no stress and no panic braking.

I noticed that some days a walk with my boys was the easiest thing in the world, they’re completely under control, well behaved and it’s a nice, pleasant walk, then on other days when stressed from work or not feeling very well, even though I pretended to be in control by using a strong voice, the dogs could sense that all was not well and they played up, pulled on the lead, and generally made life difficult, which made me more stressed and them more naughty in an ever increasing vicious circle of naughtiness and bad mood.  I also noticed when in this frame of mind that one of my boys became aggressive on the lead, when normally both my boys are the friendliest dogs on the planet, this is how I realised that I was no longer in charge and that it is my job to protect my boys.

I converted the idea of proactive and reactive behaviour into a method to use when walking the dogs, so even if I’m stressed I can still manage a nice, calm walk by proactively preparing before we even set off out the door.  By always watching ahead to get an idea of what may be coming up, or by knowing that at a certain spot my beagles always behave a certain way,  I can pre-empt and prevent issues from occurring. For example, by spotting a piece of food on the ground that someone has thrown away, I can give the discarded food plenty of space to avoid a food possessed beagle lunge and potentially dislocated shoulder, or sometimes I distract them with a fun command to complete whilst walking past the food, such as walking to heel whilst touching my fingers with their nose.   By being proactive this helps me retain a calm, stress free frame of mind, which in turn ensures I project a calm assertive pack leader energy to my boys.

Our dogs sense when we’re not in control of our emotions and are not fooled.

You can be upset, you can be stressed, however do not relate to your dog when you feel anything other than emotionally balanced.

Only humans will follow unstable pack leaders,
dogs and other pack animals will not.

Further Reading
http://www.dogchannel.com/dog-information/cesar-millan-dog-whisperer/article_energy.aspx
http://timrosanelli.blogspot.co.nz/2008/05/lessons-about-life-from-dog-whisper.html
http://www.ehow.com/how_5058593_calm-dog-doesnt-come-naturally.html
http://eadarian.com/tag/calm-assertive-energy/
http://www.naturaldogblog.com/blog/2007/07/dog-training-calm-assertive-relaxed-be-the-moose/
http://urban-k9.com/?page_id=68

Coming soon… Exercise, Discipline, Affection – three things your dog needs, and needs in that order.

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