Will you give my dog lots of love?
How do we help a dog to stop reacting out of fear? We don't do that by giving the dog lots of affection. We don't get there by letting the dog do whatever he wants whenever he wants to. In our human world, we value freedom and love and many of us often think those are the answer to our problems. In the animal world, it is not always so. A dog is not a human. A dog does not understand our language and he does not share all our common social values. Much of what we feel as the best solution makes no sense to our dogs. To help a dog with anxiety, we need to exercise discipline ourselves. Giving an anxious dog too much freedom too soon is counterproductive because it places the burden of making decisions that the dog is not equip to make on his shoulder when all he really needs and wants is to be told what to do so he can relax. Giving a dog lots of unearned affection will not make a dog feel safe. As a matter of fact, in lots of cases, this over pampering life style weakens the dog's ability to handle real world situations. Many such dogs are not robust and confident enough to cope in the real world because they have never been shown how. When they face a stressful situation, they don't have the tool to respond properly; they only know how to go back to their basic instinct and resort back to growling and barking. When we give our dogs lots of "love" with very little or no structure, we are doing a disservice to our dogs. They become like spoiled and over protected children who cannot function properly in the real world without their parents. We see lots of seperation anxiety, pushiness, entitlement, and a total lack of respect from these dogs. These dogs are usually very anxious, reactive, and out of control. They are not balanced nor content. It is not a good situation for the dog, the owner, nor the public. It makes us feel good to lavish a dog with nothing but affection and freedom but we need to stop being selfish and restrain ourselves. We need to do what is best for our dogs. If the dog is happy, he should not have all these behavioural issues. These issues are symptoms of an imbalance. These are signs that they are lacking something in their life - Something they really need that they do not have, which makes them frustrated and uncomfortable. We need to give our dogs direction and protection. We need to offer them important guidance and information via structure, so they can regain their emotional, psychological, and mental balance. A dog who is anxious really needs a figure of strength in his life. A dog that feels lost really needs a figure of guidance. A dog who always feels nervous really needs a source of calmness. We can be that figure by being their leader. We can calm them down and help them to become balanced and content when we show them leadership. That is why we need structure. Leadership is not just about hugs and kisses. It is not about massive affection. Leadership is about showing a dog he can trust and respect us, which is achieved by being fair, clear, consistent, and do things that make sense to the dog. When what we do makes sense to our dogs, our dogs will respond in a balanced and content manner. We don't need to keep yelling at our dogs. They will know what to do because once we make sense to our dogs, we will understand each other on a primal level.
If you love your dog, please learn to speak his language so you will make sense to him. Thank you.