When a human is stressed out, anxious, or angry, dogs pick up on that. They know what we are feeling. They know when we are anxious, or angry, or excited. They know when we are sad. I bet all you dog owners out there already know this about your dogs because you have had the experience of being sad and your dog climbing up onto your lap and loving on you to cheer you up.
What I think we are not realizing is: Even though our dogs know what we are feeling, they don’t know why we are feeling that way!
Your dog adores you. His life purpose is you. You are number one in his world. If you are anxious, well then, he has to protect you. But from what? He becomes anxious because he doesn’t know what the problem is. Is it the dog across the street? Is it the rustling in the bushes next to you? He doesn’t know if those are the things that are making you anxious, so he thinks, “I will bark at everything, I will pull on the leash, because I have to protect my human!”.
When we experience these behaviors, which we view as problems in our dogs, more often than not, it is because we are having a feeling which we don’t realize our dog has picked up on.
How many of you are sick of hearing the quote, “keep calm and carry on”? I know I am! But it is SO TRUE! The most important thing to remember when you are walking your dog, is to stay calm. You need to be in charge. If your dog senses that you are distracted, anxious, and you aren’t in charge, he feels that he needs to be. “Somebody needs to protect my human, and if they aren’t going to do it, then I need to!”.
I find it useful to repeat a mantra. The more I repeat my mantra of “everything is ok, I’m in charge here”, I calm myself down and thereby the dog with me feels that I am calm, and that I’m in charge of the walk and they calm down as well.
Find a calming mantra that works for you and repeat it throughout your walk. You will be much calmer, and your dog will too!