Energy: One of the two most obvious and profoundly impacting things we are constantly giving our dogs. Literally everything we think and feel is information we provide to our dog. How they deal with it is evidenced in their behavior. If we’re calm and relaxed, the dog is likely to the be the same. If we are tense, scared, nervous, angry, etc.; the dog is likely to be reactive, protective, even aggressive to the point of biting. Which is why, no matter how hard we might lie to ourselves or other people about how we’re feeling, we absolutely cannot lie to our dogs.
Because dogs read and respond to energy and body language, it can be challenging and even scary for owners to work with their reactive dogs. You have to step up and be a strong, confident leader when your dog is triggered, and that can be scary, especially if your dog has redirected their energy onto you. But, if you don’t step up, if you don’t show your dog you’ve got his back when he’s triggered, your dog won’t take you even a little seriously, and he definitely won’t trust you.
Take charge of yourself. Check in with yourself often and be honest about how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling nervous, anxious, etc, take a few deep breaths, find your happy place, fill yourself up with that calm, positive energy, and then try again. If you only get ten steps before you have to do it again, that’s fine. Do it. Every minute your dog is not reacting is a victory. And don’t worry: As your confidence starts to build, your dog will start trusting you more, and look to you for direction first instead of reacting out of hand.
You’ve got this. You really do. And if you aren’t sure about that, hire a trainer to help you. The trainer will have your back while you’re learning to teach your dog that you’ve got theirs.
Have a great weekend, and remember to stay calm and lead on.