“Why don’t you give the dog treats or pet him, let him smell your hand...when you have a new dog coming in? I do that with my dog and strangers and it always work!”
If you have followed my page for a bit you would have noticed that l do not do any of those things when a new dog comes in.
Actually, l never “introduce” myself by walking up to a new dog to let the dog sniff my hand.
The new dogs that come in to my house have no idea who l am. Naturally, they will try to find out more about me.
How should l introduce myself?
I introduce myself as someone who is respectful, sensitive, understanding, and someone whom they can trust. I introduce myself as someone who is fair, consistent, and calm. I introduce myself as someone who speaks a very clear and easy to understand language. I introduce myself as someone who is able and willing to work them through all their turmoil on their first day.
Most importantly, l introduce myself as someone they need to pay attention to and earn their reward from.
I don’t introduce myself as a free vending machine. I am not a hyper, emotional and out of control puppy-like being who cannot stop invading the dog’s space just because l cannot help it.
When the dog is nervous, unsure, or when the dog acts like he wants to eat me, which is often the case on their first day here - why would l reward this mindset with treats?
When the dog is worried about strangers touching him, when he is worried about having his personal space invaded - why would l put my hand in front of his nose?
When the dog does not know how to calm down - why would l creat more arousal by touching him, baby talking to him, or dispensing treats to him like a free vending machine?
When the dog desperately wants to relax in this new environment - why would l keep bothering him in an insensitive and inconsiderate fashion?
This applies to having a new puppy home as well.
Our priority should be on “how can we help this new puppy to relax?”
He cannot feel safe if he cannot relax.
We should present ourself as a team leader who knows how to work the teammate through stressful situations successfully.
We should present ourself as an inspiring coach who will motivate the players to be the best version of themselves. They will be rewarded fairly but the reward will have to be earned. We are not a free vending machine.
We should be the calming hand who can sooth turmoil and bring forth a sense of serenity; not the hyper invasive hand who keeps creating chaos.
When a dog who feels lost, confused, stressed and insecure meets someone who respects them for who they are, who understands their suffering and is able to give them what they need, who shows them he can help them to feel better - they will naturally relax around this person.
One thing many people have a hard time understanding is to ignore the dog - keep their hands off the dog, keep their treats in their pocket, keep their emotional at bay.
We are a mirror to our dogs. I keep noticing dogs who suffer separation anxiety with human who also feels very anxious once they are not around their dogs, dogs who are reactive having human who are very emotional and worry about their dogs a lot, dogs who resource guards their owners with owners who over protect and over indulge their dogs. These human cannot leave their dogs alone, cannot stop thinking about their dogs, cannot ignore their dogs - and it is really excessive and obvious.
All these emotional display are unstable energy (like what a puppy would display) and is not the type of energy a dog will instinctually follow. As a matter of fact, dogs usually would not respect nor trust someone with such energy.
Why would l want to project this kind of energy to my dog when my priority is for the dog to trust and respect me?
Ignore is a form of respect, a sign of maturity - because ignore requires self discipline.
You love your dog, but you have the discipline to ignore him because you want to do what is best for him. That is maturity. That is putting the interest of the dog above your own.
When you exhibit behaviours that tell your dog you are putting his best interest first, you understand him, you want what is best for him, and you can forego your selfish wants (l just want to touch him all the time) in order to complete his needs, you are a leader your dog will want to follow.
That is why l do what l do, thank you.