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How Humans Stress Dogs

We, as humans and puppy-parents, really need to look at the motivation behind some of our behaviours. To put it bluntly, it's about time that we stopped subjecting our dogs to stress, or to situations that aren't emotionally healthy for them, for our own benefit - because we're thinking about what WE want or need, rather than what's good for our dogs.

Example - A dog owner contacts me because their dog had separation anxiety - but they've put the dog on their bed every night, and respond every time the dog asks for attention. Why? Not because it's good for the mental state of the dog, but because it makes the owner feel loved, wanted, needed. So having set the dog up as being the authority and the one who can (and should) demand attention, when it doesn't work for the owner, suddenly the dog is seen as having a problem.

I spoke recently with a woman who takes her dogs to work with her - a lovely, dog-friendly place, where her dogs can spend all day playing with multiple other doggas. Except, her dogs aren't confident with other dogs, so they hide in their crates all day, snapping at any dog whoncomes near. Mum's busy working so, even if she chose to follow our 3 Bs program and learn how to make her doggas feel protected, it's difficult to do so in the work environment. I suggested to her that we work together (or she simply get our ebook and follow the 3 Bs Program), but in the meantime, to minimise their stress by leaving them at home through the day. Puppy-cam has already shown that they happily play together, or with their toys, when alone at home, and separation isn't an issue - for THEM. Her response? "But I like them to be with me, otherwise I miss them too much". Yet somehow this falls under the banner of "I love my dog"?! When poor dogga's being traumatised day after day?

Then there's "Oh, I take my dog EVERYWHERE with me" - He doesn't WANT to go everywhere. He doesn't WANT to go for long hikes every day- even if he's a working breed. Sometimes he just wants to kick back and sunbathe. He certainly doesn't want to go to the street fair, or market where there are 1000 people, therefore 2000 feet attached to people, who either don't realise that he needs a bit of space, or simply don't see him. Meanwhile he's standing or walking with his person, tail tucked, ears back, possibly even visibly trembling and more than likely getting a jerk on the collar or a sharp word if he snaps or barks or growls - why is he there?!

We shouldn't have a dog for our benefit, unless it's also for his. If you're challenged by your dog's behaviour - separation anxiety, reactivity, timidity, demanding behavours - you need to look at how YOU are behaving. I can guarantee that you are doing things to create the problem. And he can't change - he can't relax, he can't trust, if you don't change your behavours and allow him to.


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