I was working with a client in class last week who was so hyper-sensitive to his dog’s issues that he was unable to help his dog. His dog is typically aggressive with other dogs and the gentleman is attending class to help bring this issue under control. During a recall exercise where I instruct student’s to allow their dogs to become distracted while walking to the end of their lead and then call them back, the owner of the Springer Spaniel would call the dog and correct him before the poor dog even had a chance to respond to being called. More sympathetic, I cannot be.
Constant negative self-talk regarding your dog’s behavior keeps your dog stuck, unable to move forward. In addition to having a doom and gloom attitude about your dog’s impending behavior, an owner’s own issues can make things even worse. Natural anxiety often hinders our efforts with our animals especially if we are worried about what other people think of us.
Next time you find yourself in a tough spot with your dog try to stop your usual thought patterns. Pretend your dog is not yours but rather a friends. Think back to any training or management technique you’ve ever learned in dealing with your dog and rely on it to get through the situation. Take a deep breath and calmly bring your dog under control. You will likely find you’ve never done better to control a usual situation.