It’s All About Trust
Learn to trust yourself. Then you trust your dog. Then your dog trusts you!
As your dog lives with you, it is you, and everyone else involved with them, who has to gain the trust of your dog. Once you start paying more attention to yourself and what behaviour or emotions you are projecting towards your dog, consciously or unconsciously, and particularly if this changes in certain situations, you may begin to realise this could be the reason why your dog reacts the way s/he does.
Dogs want predictability so if your dog knows what to expect of YOU, they will feel secure and calm and there’s less chance that they’ll misbehave or react negatively, or as some may think unpredictably. It can be very unsettling when something about you simply doesn’t feel right to them. If you feel nervous, anxious, angry or frustrated around your dog, if you’re too loud and over-bearing, or too quiet and gentle, you will find it’s hard to get them to see you as a leader who they can trust.
Dogs need the type of discipline that comes with firm but calm energy so no matter what the situation, if you always project a sense of being in control of yourself, your dog always senses that everything feels right about you and therefore they can always trust you, and in turn they’ll show you respect. Punishment comes with angry, frustrated and negative energy and this will create an angry, frustrated or anxious dog who never listens to you and who may avoid you, challenge you or compete with you. Dogs give back the same negative energy which they receive.
If you’re helping your dog overcome a particular difficulty, such as being touched, having their nails clipped, having their injections at the vets, getting in the car, or walking by a noisy motorbike, always take your time, take small steps and never rush them or you will lose their trust. If they feel overwhelmed in any moment you need to help them to relax before you continue, this will help them to keep focused on you and begin to sense that you are helping them to change a stressful experience into something that can be associated with being no big deal instead. Certain dogs can become overwhelmed in an instant if we add too much talking at the moment they have just calmed down. You can quickly undo ten minutes of patience and teaching by praising your dog with excitement too early. Wait until the exercise is completely finished and praise them CALMLY. This way your dog is never on edge, he is going to want to listen to you and trust you and this avoids a multitude of problem behaviours such as insecurity, barking, dominance, biting and aggression from ever starting.
Be careful also not to go overboard with affection when your dog is under stress, in pain, or has reacted negatively or dangerously. To be sure, you would offer a child lots of reassurance and kind words if they were in pain or traumatised by a distressing event. But since dogs process their emotions differently and lack the cognitive abilities we have to think things through, we can accidentally nurture their fear, nervousness or aggressive tendencies so they associate our kind affection and words of “it’s OK” as meaning it’s OK to be nervous or it’s OK to be frightened or to react. Unfortunately when similar circumstances happen again they only know how to feel nervous, frightened or aggressive because as far as they’re concerned you have always given your approval in the past and told them “it’s OK” to feel that way. Instead give a one-time effective correction to achieve calmness, as is necessary after a bad reaction, or in other instances help them move on and deal with things as best as possible, and if appropriate (but NOT in the case of aggression or dangerous reaction) offer a slow, firm touch to help slow down their heart rate and to reassure them that you’re there for them – if you’re dealing with things OK and you’re calm, then they’ll deal with things and be calm as well. Recovery from any scare, trauma or operation will be much quicker if they see that you have been able to cope and move on, which in turn helps them to cope and move on.
Unfortunately if you have a rescue dog with particular behavioural difficulties it can be hard to heal past traumas which may have affected them and which they seem to be stuck with. It is possible to bring them around with a clear vision of what they need from you but additional therapies may also be needed. Acupuncture can be relaxing and ease tension, relieve pain and free up emotions.
Chiropractic treatments for dogs are very effective and can help release toxins and stuck emotions. If we have a chiropractic treatment we can feel tired or develop a cold, or flu-like symptoms afterwards as toxins stuck in our tissue, organs, glands and nervous system are all released. Your dog may also experience some symptoms as the body goes through a period of adjustment. If your dog shakes a lot or seems stiff or tense, has digestive problems or is a fussy eater, or simply has symptoms which can’t be explained by the vets then try a chiropractic treatment.
Energy therapies also release toxins and emotions using advanced kinesiology muscle testing and can be effective for those dogs that find it difficult to stay still or for someone to touch them or physically manipulate their body. The therapist doesn’t even have to be in the same room as your dog and can be on the telephone as they do a session working on your dog’s energy field.