Is it just me or have you had those days where you need to do something with your dog and you are terrified of what’s going to happen?
I remember needing to take Holly to the vets and a wave of dread and nervousness came over me, the whole drive over I am imaging the worst case scenario, and there we’re a few of them…
1. Meeting a dog as we open the door.
2. Having a dog bound up to us in the waiting room where we have no way to escape
3. And then the actual vet check itself. Holly doesn’t enjoy the vet, she doesn’t stop moving and HATES to be contained in any way.
My mind is racing, palms are sweaty and I don’t feel like I’m really up for the challenge of dealing with this today, but I have to, and I have to find a way to do it without Holly noticing how nervous I am in this situation because I know if I’m stressed, it makes her experience SO much worse!
Does this sound anything like what you have experienced? It’s not easy to overcome our own fears about our dogs behaviour when we have to be put into situations where you know it’s going to be hard to control the outcome.
But, this story isn’t all doom and gloom, I want to share with you a few secrets that I have used myself and with my clients, to make it so much easier for ourselves and our dogs when situations like these occur.
OUR ENERGY BUBBLE
Did you know you have an energy bubble? It’s completely invisible but it’s actually a tangible thing. Every thought we have, turns into a feeling, and our feelings turn into energy, and this energy is dispersed throughout our bubble. Our bubble can be outwards of 2-3 metres and explains why sometimes you just don’t “like” or “click” with someone else without even having to speak to them.
Our dogs are very sensitive beings and pick up on this energy as easily as downloading a file from the internet. It’s helps them read the situation, and the more uncomfortable you are, the more aware they are, and anticipate something bad happening.
CHANGE YOUR MIND – CHANGE YOUR DOG
In order to change our bubble, and therefore the download we give our dogs, we have to change our thoughts.
When we anticipate something bad is happening, we are literally visualising the bad outcome (yes I can see inside your brain!). It’s like a little movie that we replay every time we are going into a similar situation.
The problem is this sets you and your dog up for a far more difficult time!
Next time in your are feeling stressed or nervous about the outcome, I want you to take note of your thoughts and stop yourself. S.T.O.P!
Take a moment to actually visualise the outcome you do want, and visualise until you feel it in your body that it’s possible.
Hold onto the image, the feelings and the hope that it will turn out just like you want and come back to it as many times as you need to stay in a positive frame of mind.
By using visualisations this way, you are instantly changing your energy bubble, so that all those positive thoughts, feelings you visualise will be downloaded to your dog and help them have a more positive experience.
This seems like a no-brainer since we do it without thinking but you might notice when you are stressed around your dog that your breathing becomes shallower, you might hold your breath, and in turn your muscles will tighten up. When your body is tight like this you are essentially physically out of balance, you aren’t balanced through your hips and you tend to rely solely on upper physical strength to get you though.
When you are in this state, and you are holding the leash, all this tension is being communicated through the leash to your dog.
In order to keep your body relaxed, and as little tension as possible through the leash, make sure you are breathing and keeping your body as relaxed as possible.
FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT
Now I know that everything I’ve mentioned above may sound great in theory, but in practice… not so much, right?
I agree, it’s does sound nice, and it sounds easy but I know from my own experience to make this work its going to take time and practice.
The best way I found to move forward is to start implementing these things during less stressful situations.
To get started:
1. Visualise positive outcomes over smaller things, and take the time to practice really feeling the positive outcomes when it’s quiet at home, or in the car.
2. If your thoughts are struggling to remain positive, make the breathing exercise and using relaxed muscles your no.1 place to start. This directly affects the tension on the leash and can be something you do concentrate on when your mind isn’t working in your favour.
3. Fake it till you make it, it’s going to take time for these things to become natural for you, it’s a muscle and you need to strengthen it over time. But once you get there, it will make life so much easier.
If you find you need some extra help visualising a positive outcome or want some other simple strategies or to help you or your dog cope at the vet, or any other stressful situation, please get in touch with me, I would love to help you both more forward with calm & confidence!