Dog Training: Your dog and your emotions

Here are some facts about relationships with our dogs other trainers are most likely not teaching or sharing with you that, if known, could change your perspective about your dog and your approach to training:

  • 99% of what goes on between us and our puppies and dogs is emotional. There is very little intellectual exchange between us.
  • When you think about it, if they weren’t so sensitive to our feelings, we probably wouldn’t have them as pets.
  • Puppies and dogs do not do well with emotional energy. Too much love and affection can nurture their insecurity. On the other end of the spectrum of emotional energy is anger, panic, excitement, yelling and screaming.  This energy only provides your puppy or dog with an unstable environment filled with anxiety and tension.
  • When puppies or dogs feel emotionally insecure about their  relationships with us, they become frustrated and anxious.
  • Your puppy or dog then tries to relieve the tension caused by the frustration in his relationship with you and that’s when behavioral problems occur.

Understanding how to become a strong leader emotionally is important to having a well balanced puppy that will stay balanced into and throughout adulthood. As we look at how we interact with our dogs on a daily basis, remember this: *  Your feelings are emotions and translate to energy – your dog interprets your energy.

  • Your energy translates into actions – your dog responds  to your actions.
  • When you train or correct your dog, he connects the emotion of that energy you cause him to feel in that moment to that specific behavior or correction.
  • Dogs are less reactive to calm, emotional energy.
  • Your calm energy helps to relieve the anxiety and tension in your home environment.
  • Teach your children to help provide your puppy or dog  with a tension-free environment which will in turn alleviate  many dog problems in the future.

Here are some of my “trainer tips” that will help you on your way to becoming an expert on emotional leadership:

  • Don’t involve your dog in excited departures or arrivals. This tends to cause him to have emotional highs at important, critical times of the day which in turn can lead to disorders such as separation anxiety.
  • An added complication is that dogs who demand, and get,  free pets and praise all the time will tend to miss their  owners more when owners leave home. Do ignore our dog for  5 minutes prior to departure and upon arriving home.
  • By consistently doing this, you will level out your dog’s emotional highs as they tend to contrast too sharply with his alone time while you are gone. After 5 minutes, simply and quietly ask for a sit – then greet your dog with love and affection.
  • Don’t “bark” (yell and scream) at your dog with anger or frustration when correcting him.
  • Do decide what you would prefer your dog do instead of what you are correcting him for and then train him to perform the good behavior.
  • Don’t placate your dog’s insecurities by feeling sorry for or coddling him (i.e. during thunderstorms.)
  • Do “happy your dog up” – that is, changing your emotional  state can change the emotional state of your dog through mood transferences.
  • Work your dog through happy sits and downs praising and  treating him for a job well done during his stressful  thunderstorm episodes.
  • Couple your calm energy with quiet redirects to appropriate behaviors like sits or downs followed by simple praise for doing a good job.
  • Engage your dog in 2 minute sessions of sits and downs 3  times daily to give him a sense of working for leadership  rather than being responsible for it himself as this is  a difficult emotional burden for dogs to carry living with us humans.

Behavioral problems occur because your puppy or dog is trying to relieve the tension produced by some frustration in his relationship with you.

“Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog, as you are the teacher of your children.”    And remember:  OPPORTUNITY BARKS!

Jim Burwell

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