Anxiety | How Does Your Dog Interpret the Feeling

Post image for Anxiety | How Does Your Dog Interpret the Feeling

by jtclough on June 14, 2011

Separation anxiety, fear aggression, fearful dog all terms that describe what more and more urban dogs seem to be suffering from these days.  For the most part as a dog owner its not only heartbreaking and hard to watch but frustrating in figuring out what to do about it.

The #1 Mistake Owners Make to Try and Fix Dog Anxiety

Human nature whether women or man has a need to fix things in our lives that aren’t working and nurturing is an automatic response to seeing kids, people, and animals who are struggling with fear.  The problem is when it comes to dogs we don’t know how to communicate in the same language that dogs do.  Therefore many times we think we are helping dogs and we are actually making it worse.

The first response to a dog showing signs of anxiety is usually, “It’s okay.”  We tell our dogs over and over in the midst of a freak out session “it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.  In a very soothing voice.  In the dogs head this could easily translate into “my person is telling me to keep doing what I’m doing.”

What Do You Fear

Think of something you have a huge fear of.  It could be standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, toes an inch from the edge and looking down.  It could be flying in airplanes, or swimming where you can’t touch, there are no lane lines and no edges to hold onto, or it could be dealing with people you don’t know.  Whatever it is that you have a real fear of; you get anxiety just even thinking about… go there now.

Then imagine what happens when someone tells you, “It’s okay.”

Does that statement really help you?  Does it make the fear go away?

Exactly.  It may be a soothing voice but it doesn’t help one bit with what to do to get rid of the fear.

The only road to getting out of fear is practicing your action and your response.  The way you respond to fear is the result of billions of internal messages (you say 50,000 things to yourself every day of your life!). It will take some time and some repetition to shift your patterns. Be patient, be persistent. You will succeed.

Applying the Internal Message Game to A Dog’s Anxiety

Hopefully this brief description of how people who have the ability to logic have to work themselves out of fear will help those of you with dogs who have any type of anxiety understand more clearly that a dog who has anxiety in any situation has to practice something new to do to get over it.  And they have to practice over and over again.  No one really knows but the case being that people say 50,000 things to themselves everyday, there is a good chance your dog has many pictures running between those big ears every day too and our mission to help is to create pictures of actions you want to see more of.

Saying “It’s okay.” is only perpetuating the problem.  Expecting the fear will go away with only a few practice sessions is also not realistic.  So if you have a dog that needs some help from separation anxiety, fear aggression or fearful of anything, do yourself a favor and work on one of your own fears while you help your dog develop a new habit in the same way… by practicing something new over and over and over again.

Separation anxiety, fear aggression or any behavioral issue can be very frustrating.  Learning to speak dog is paramount to dealing with the problem and a few sessions with a professional dog trainer can make a world of difference for your dog and for you.  Contact The Collared Scholar for a higher education and learn how you can help overcome anxiety and fear in a more positive action based way.  For more fun dog games, events and health news sign up for the Healthy Living Wag Report.

Jt Clough, has studied, applied and taught others how to create a balanced life with calm dog training techniques through her lifetime commitment to health and fitness. Clough is also the creator of dog wellness programs and author of the 5K Training Guide | Running with Dogs and Treading for Dogs DVD,  further inspiring people to introduce playtime in life through the eyes of a dog changing unwanted behaviors to practicing a healthy lifestyle.

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