When Your Dog’s Behavior Gets the Best of You
It happens to the best of us. You start your morning walk with your dog. Expectations are high. You think, this is a new day and I can handle whatever situation comes our way. Your stride is confident. Your dog is keeping step close at our side, leash loose, nose in the air. Then it happens…the neighbor and her dog come strolling around the corner. And in an instant your dog turns into a creature exhibiting behaviors akin to those of a caged elephant. You struggle to control the barking, lunging, embarrassing dog behavior that you swore your dog would never possess.
It doesn’t take long for your behavior in this situation to deteriorate to a level below that of your dog’s reaction. You become one in the same. Jumping, yelling, lunging, barking, tugging, you name it. You do everything and anything you can think of to mediate the situation. All the while not realizing you are making the situation worse.
You feel defeated. You have succumbed to having a human reaction to a dog behavior.
When dogs and humans started living and working together each became more and more accustomed to the other’s moods and behaviors. Dogs show us much about ourselves. We are connected to them in such a way that it’s easy to forget they are dogs, not little furry people.
Dog Behavior vs Human Behavior
So when they react to a situation with a uniquely dog behavior like barking at another dog or grabbing free food from the counter when our backs are turned; it can surprise us. Then we in turn have a human reaction.
We get startled, upset and often angry as a response. We even lose our cool sometimes. It feels natural to yell “no!” or “bad dog!” It’s a uniquely human reaction. As the handler, what we need to decipher here is what exactly we are reacting to. It’s normal to feel embarrassed or angry when our dog barks at another passing dog. As humans we see that as a failure of training on our part. We feel like our dog is behaving rudely. When in reality, sometimes it’s just your dog’s way of saying “hey, I’m over here…whatcha up to?” or “hey, you make me a little nervous so stay away.”
This is where the spiral behavior effect happens. When we react like this, it creates anxiety in us and our dogs can feel it. Remember that a dog interacts with the world through the eyes of a dog no matter how much we see our best sides in them. The more you make of a situation the more it will become one. Yelling doesn’t change the behavior but serves to escalates the tension.
As the pack leader shake it off, move on and have fun. Try the walk again another day. Don’t give up. Keep calm and try again.
Call For Backup
If this dog behavior continues, it might be time to call for reinforcements. Call a qualified trainer. This can help in many ways. Most importantly an outside party, such as a trainer, has less emotion involved in the situation and therefore can remain calm enough to de-escalate and teach your dog to react differently.
Sonoran Dog Care is here to help. Call us to schedule an evaluation. 602-428-4411