For years now I have called myself a Canine Behaviourist, which implies that when I work with dogs all I change or ‘correct’ is the behaviour of the dog. But in actual fact, given the mindful approach to the work I do, I should really call myself a ‘Dog’s Emotional Coach’.
For many years it was assumed that dogs do not have emotions, or at least the same kind of emotions that humans have. This is a somewhat arrogant approach to life, but given the history of dogs as a working tool for man it’s not surprising that this is the way it has developed. It allows people to use negative punishment techniques with a clear conscience.
But recent neuroscience research is beginning to shed light on the emotional states of the dog, and highlights that facts dogs do exhibit emotions in a similar way to human beings. This is based on the premise that dogs are sentient beings like us.
When we look at human behaviour, no one would argue with a psychiatrist if they stated that a person’s emotional state has a massive effect and may very well be the driver behind most of the behaviours, be them good or bad. So why is it so difficult for people to accept that this may well be the same for our dogs. After all we are both mammals, we have both evolved on the same planet, we both have a brain, albeit a dog having a much small frontal lobe.
Are dogs really that different to us?
It is also very well noted that the emotional state of a person is strongly affected by the emotional states of the people they live with or surround themselves with. You only have to look at someone laughing and it’s almost impossible not to join in or at least smile. So, is it really that difficult to entertain the idea that your dogs emotional state is also being affected by the people and dogs that surround them?
I often hear from clients that their dog is perfect with one family member but an absolute nightmare with another. Could it be that the dog isn’t being ‘naughty’ but in fact its behaviour is being driven by the emotional state of the owner in charge?
Why is my dog good with them but not with me?
In my experience, helping the owner to fully understand the emotional impact that they have on their dog has been so important when developing a plan to help them move their dog’s behaviour to a more desired outcome.
If we do not have balance in the emotional states on both sides, dog and owner, then often the ‘bad behaviour’ of the dog just returns regardless of the training method used.
How to help your dog.
The great thing is we have the potential to gain complete control of our own emotional state?
- Become aware of your own emotional state through mindfulness techniques.
- Calmly watch your dog, note down any repeated patterns of behaviour they display.
- When your dog reacts in a negative way, ie when out on lead, before you act and blame your dog, stop and think about how you feel? Is your emotional state matching your dogs?
- Learn more about the Mindfulness4dogs Emotional Training Techniques by contacting us.