We all love our dogs so much. Many people will tell you they love their dog like a baby. I mean, why not?
Here is why loving your dog so much is important.
The emotional connection you create with your dog in the very beginning weeks and months of your relationship will form how he relates to and interacts with you, other family members, friends and strangers in the years to come.
Will you create a confident and well-balanced dog? Or, —- will your dog develop insecurities and become laden with anxiety and tension?
Here are some facts about relationships with our dogs that could change your approach to training and insure you a more confident dog:
Most all of our relationship with our dog is emotional. Dogs draw us to them. There’s that doggie breath we remember when they were puppies, their total cuteness – not to mention they were so warm and cuddly as dogs and are still. It’s the whole package really!
We feel like our dogs are very sensitive to our feelings. We pick up on this almost immediately. Come to think of it, if this sensitivity were not there, we probably wouldn’t have them as pets.
Dogs do not do well with an over abundance of our emotional energy. Too much love and affection when we are home can really cause our dog to miss all that attention when we are gone. This can make them feel insecure. One minute tons of attention, and love, then you leave and nothing—-what the heck happened ? What’s going on?
Dogs become afraid when they sense our anger or hear us yelling and screaming. This kind of emotional energy, filled with anxiety and tension, creates an unstable environment for our dog .
Our dog then tries to relieve the tension caused by the frustration in his relationship with us and that’s when behavioral problems occur. Barking, house soiling, biting etc.
So how do we balance the love we feel for and want to express to our dogs, while at the same time keeping them balanced?
Tips to Creating a Confident Dog
- 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.
- Instead, ignore your 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. After5 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.
- Instead, 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 reward your dog’s insecurities by feeling sorry for and coddling him (i.e. during thunderstorms.) Instead, “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. I’ve suggested singing a happy song to help to begin changing a dog’s emotional state – and with success!
A Couple of Closing Thoughts for You
Pair your calm energy with quiet redirects to appropriate behaviors like sits or downs followed by simple praise for doing a good job.
And finally, engage your dog in very short, frequent obedience training sessions daily to give your dog a sense of working for your leadership rather than feeling responsible for being the leader himself. If the decisions are left to him, that puts a difficult emotional burden on our dogs to carry. Above all, make sure you have fun raising and training your dog. And more importantly, make sure your dog has fun too!
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Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients. Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years. One of his clients says it best:
There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant