“The problem is always on the other end of the leash!” “Your insecurity is transferred to your dog!” “Just guide your dog confidently and determined by the situation, then it works!”
Who wouldn’t have heard this and similar advice when it came to how to help an insecure, fearful, reactive dog?
They are literally on everyone’s lips, but they are one thing above all: unfair.
You are unfair to people.
If it were possible to decide “from today I am confident!” Then none of us would be unsure – it is not that pleasant for people. We could then choose not to be nervous about important appointments. And just not to be afraid of exams. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Of course, we can just pretend that we are confident: take a deep breath, take your chest out and then you start walking!
Unfortunately, our dogs are able to interpret our body language to such an extent that they will never fall for such a show. All we can do is make us look unbelievable. So we certainly don’t create trust.
Advice such as these is particularly bad for people who have already experienced that their dog was surprisingly very scared or possibly aggressive. Until then, they were completely relaxed and had to experience that they suddenly had a problem out of the blue (at least for them). Once this has happened to you, it can repeat itself at any time … and you never know when … Then you don’t dare to relax anymore (in such cases, by the way, trainers are a great help when it comes to analyzing what with people was exactly the reason for the dog’s reaction).
You are unfair to the dog.
Hand on heart: We’re all afraid of something, right?
For me, it includes spiders. I can handle small specimens, or those that credibly guarantee that they will stay in their nets, but if a palm-sized representative of their kind runs across the wall of the room, this room is too small for both of us!
I know people who don’t care. They stay absolutely relaxed while I catch my breath, pull my feet on the sofa under me and stare at the monster as if hypnotized. And what should I say? It doesn’t help me a bit!
If they can, please move this spider out of the room, please! THEN is helped!
It is correct that I am of no great help to my dog if I become nervous, insecure or even panicked with it. But the mere fact that I’m not scared doesn’t help him either.
But you have to face your fears!
Do you have to? If I am afraid of elevators and therefore conclude that climbing stairs is much healthier anyway, then that’s perfectly fine!
However, if my fears start to hinder my everyday life, I should seek help.
And this is exactly the difference between humans and dogs: humans decide for themselves what they want and what they don’t. For example, if I decide to do confrontation therapy, that’s my decision and I know what I’m going to do. I am also accompanied by someone who is trained to do just that.
When I confront a dog with his fears, I decide about him and he doesn’t know why I want him to. In addition, people are able to reflect: I can say afterwards “okay, that was bad, I had a panic attack, but in fact nothing happened to me!”. Dogs cannot do this, their understanding ends with “that was bad!”. Respectively with “That was bad, my person brought me into this situation and he did not help me.” …
As long as we are children, others make such decisions for us, otherwise many of us would probably not have gone to school. However, there is a social agreement that parents have to send their children to school. Here, too, the people who then teach the children have the appropriate training.
Even children are able to clearly report back to parents and teachers that they are not satisfied with their situation.
In addition to my little spider phobia, I also suffer from fear of heights and at some point I found it so obstructive that I decided to fight it by registering for a climbing course. The person who led this course was a mountain guide and had a lot of experience. Although I was his first “fear patient”, he took my fears very seriously. The first thing we learned was how to secure yourself and others, so it was clear from the head that you wouldn’t crash. We also agreed that I would ALWAYS be roped IMMEDIATELY if I got scared – on one of these occasions I was embarrassed to find that I had only climbed one and a half meters …
In the climbing hall I got on pretty well: smooth walls with colorful nuppies simply create a lot less head cinema than real rocks. When they got there, I let Bergherbert rappel me down without clinging to the rope (which is stupid because it doesn’t help, but it’s still extremely difficult to let go) – but only from him. I was confident. And in fact I climbed a 25 meter high natural rock! When he asked me a year later whether I would like to climb a four-thousand-meter peak with him, I said yes.
I am still afraid of heights, but I now know that with the help of a competent person, whom I firmly trust, I can do a lot more than alone.
You can also do this with dogs and if it succeeds, then that is one of the really great moments in living with a dog.
However, it presupposes that my dog firmly believes that I am competent! And that He decides to get involved.
Oskar has learned over the years that I can rely on:
- I don’t put him in situations that overwhelm him.
- When I see that he needs distance, we run a curve.
- If something seems dangerous to him, I go ahead alone and check the situation – if he likes afterwards, he can also go and see with me.
- When he’s on a leash, I’ll protect him and make sure no one gets too close.
We also had our big moment in the mountains: a suspension bridge.
Oskar found it extremely creepy (I – frankly – too!). I put him on a leash (for his own safety) and then invited him to follow me across the bridge. And he did that too. He was very small at that moment and I could feel his nose on my calf all the time. But he went along on a relaxed slack line. That was HIS decision! He was confident that everything would go well with me and was confirmed again in this expectation. After that, suspension bridges were no longer an issue.
In our case, too, a person with appropriate training, after a long and thorough preparation, led his protégé WITH his consent through a threatening situation.
As a tip among dog owners, all of this purrs together on “You just have to do it self-confidently!” And so you can always see people bringing their reluctant dogs into situations with which they are completely overwhelmed.