Your dog’s emotions easily mirror your own. This means that your dog reflects the emotions that you portray when you are interacting together. My clients often tell me, “my dog won’t calm down, my dog jumps, my dog is wild, my dog won’t be still.” I see this behavior with many of the dogs that come to me for training. The secret to having a calmer, more balanced, less excitable dog is the HUMAN! It is such an easy solution, yet one that nearly every human utterly fails to achieve.
I came to this realization after spending countless hours on the road at my seminars. My own well-mannered, well-behaved, and well-trained dogs travel with me all over the country as model citizens, putting on shows and demonstrations that wow my audiences. My dogs have a beautiful on/off switch. When asked to perform and show off they shine with excitement, determination, and commitment to their work. When asked to go to a place, be still, relax and focus with low energy, they easily switch gears. Well, that is until the HUMANS come along and totally uproot things.
Let’s dig further here. How is it that my own personal dogs can be so calm and relaxed while traveling in my truck, while loose in my home, when commanded to go to a place and be still, or when I greet them? The answer is simple! I am calm and relaxed. NEVER, never ever, do I walk into my home with excitement to see my dogs. In fact, the most humane and stable thing that you can do when greeting a dog is…. NOTHING. No emotion, no excitement, no pressure for them to react to you.
My goodness that just seems cruel, doesn’t it!? Not really. The idea is to offer calm affection only when your dog is in a relaxed, calm state of mind. If you offer affection and praise while a dog is excited, then they can become stuck in a perpetual state of reverberating, unstable energy. While sadly humans think that a wiggly, busy dog is happy, it is actually an excited dog. Dogs can enjoy excitement when playing with each other, or perhaps exercising; however, when they are around humans, let’s try to encourage their peaceful composure. A truly, happy, content dog is calm, still, and relaxed.
How can we achieve this emotion? When a dog is around you, be calm! Now picture this. Your human loved one (wife, husband, parent, child, or friend) is sitting next to you. How do you touch them? With exuberant pats, smacks, stroking pets, roughing up? I would think NOT!
Then why on earth would you ever touch a dog like that? I do not pet my dogs, instead I use calm, kind, loving touch. I cradle their face, place my hand on their withers (shoulders), gently touch their chest, or lightly rub an ear. These soft touches relax your dog and teach them to melt into your hand. It is the most beautiful bond and connection, and you will find your dog yearning for more.
This is partnership, friendship and love. Feel your heartbeat lower, embrace the moment, and connect with your dog so that he now yearns for your calm touch. Both of you will enjoy a more stable and balanced relationship!