Every now and then I am asked how to “get” an unsafe dog safely, confidently.
Well: just like a human!
Some people get sweats when they have to give a speech to, say, 1,000 listeners. For others, this already happens when they are considering speaking out during a discussion. Some people can dance and party at parties. If they didn’t know anyone at the start of the party – after two hours they’ll know each other and have a lot of fun. Others still stand on the edge at midnight and hold on to their glasses.
Some people stand up for their interests, others avoid any conflict.
An insecure person could be advised on rhetoric courses, communication courses, behavioral courses, flirting courses, dance courses, self-confidence building courses, psychotherapy and so on and so on.
Despite all efforts, not everyone will achieve the goal of such courses: Not everyone becomes a party animal, some remain shy. And not everyone wants to give speeches or go to parties at all.
And dogs are only human too!
Your self-confidence can be strengthened, confident appearance can be practiced. But as with humans, there are limits that we should respect.
For my part, I have no problem speaking to other people. Stage fright is limited and a few rhetoric courses have not hurt either. But when it comes to “talking small” at a party, I always send others ahead: I’m stony and I will stay that way!
Whether and when insecurity is a problem for the dog is, so to speak, “in the eye of the beholder””.
Environmentally unsafe dogs, for example, tend to orient themselves strongly towards their humans. The “ask” regularly “may I do this?” And show little inclination to embark on private excursions. This can make joint ventures a lot easier!
Socially insecure dogs often get through life very well by simply acting indifferently / unobtrusively: “I am not there, you are not there.” This can work so well that I wonder again if it is not a pretty confident behavior.
A dog who throws himself on the back in front of everyone else does not have to be insecure: after all, it takes a lot of (God) trust to throw in and believe that nothing will happen to you.
However, many insecure dogs “suffer” “quietly”. These are the candidates who just pinch the rod and push their way through life with “Oh, shit, oh, shit” on their foreheads.
Such dogs have problems but do not cause them, which is why they often do not get help.
If the dog suffers “loudly”, yaps, snaps and shoots forward, it causes problems. Then man demands sovereign, relaxed behavior.
Then the person wants to “act” on the dog, to have the dog refrain from certain behaviors.
If you were malicious, you could say that a sovereign person copes with the fact that his dog misbehaves every now and then … But firstly, we are not malicious and secondly, we respect that people have their limits!
In the following we will show ways how humans can strengthen their dog’s self-confidence, how they can offer them security and which strategies are available to deal with difficult situations. Nevertheless, we would like to advocate accepting the limits of what is possible. In humans and dogs!
How do you gain security, how do you develop self-confidence, how do you learn sovereign behavior?
Rules offer security!
Imagine you start a new job.
The gatekeeper wishes you good luck and lets you on the company’s premises. You look around and ask yourself until you find the right building, the right floor. There you are looking for a job that looks unused and that could be yours. It smells of coffee, but you don’t know where you can get it from. In addition, you have not yet found out where the toilet is.
Imagine you start a new job.
You will be picked up at the gatekeeper by a colleague who will take you to your place of work and introduce you to the colleagues.
He shows you around and shows you copy room (no private copies!), Toilets and coffee kitchen.
You are allowed to take coffee, but then you have to pay into the coffee machine and wash your used cups yourself. You will be explained under which conditions you can use the phone privately, when is lunch break and who represents whom during the break times.
Rules over rules …
Nevertheless, you will probably feel better with the second variant. More relaxed. More secure! Because you don’t have to keep asking yourself whether what you’re doing is right or wrong.
A dog that comes into a new family is no different!
The more transparent and clear the rules of the game will make him feel all the more secure.
People and dogs feel safer if they can predict the behavior of their counterpart. Imagine your life partner: If you never know whether he will laugh heartily, close you in his arms or throw dishes after you, you can never be relaxed “yourself”.
Social partners provide security!
An example: You are out with your pubescent herding dog when the biker from the neighborhood comes up to you in a leather suit with a helmet on.
What your dog thinks: “Alien alarm! The guy has no face! Fight for your life! ”.
Explaining to him now in a soft voice that friend Alien is completely harmless will not help him.
An energetic “shut up!” But much less!
If you want to gain security, I have to give security!
So my dog does not have to be brave, I do that for him: I approach the “alien”, make contact and come back alive. Even more: I ask the biker to take off his helmet and put it back on before my dog’s eyes.
If you understand how the ball head with the missing face comes about, you no longer have to be afraid!
However, “giving security” is not simply a mental exercise for humans!
The equation “I have him on a leash = I give him security” does not work automatically.
Anyone of a dog with a leash who regularly leads him (?) To another dog by means of a taut leash will – if he is honest – confirm that his dog will not become sovereign through this procedure.
And even dogs that are dragged on a leash through frightening situations obviously don’t realize that everything was half as bad.
In both cases, the person commits a breach of trust instead: he perceives the problem of his dog, but does not help him to cope with it.
I give security by actively relieving my dog: A danger is approaching: We evade together!
At this point I regularly hear “I am confirming the fear!”
If I jumped to the side with a cry of horror, it would surely be the case. But by calmly walking a bow, I signal my dog ”I have recognized your problem and I offer you a solution”.
“Feeling understood” is the first step towards trust
A danger is approaching: I jump into the breach and test how big it is, for example, fluttering tarpaulins can be very, very scary!
Now telling my dog that everything is OK does not help him. Even though it may seem like this to us sometimes: dogs don’t understand what we say!
But you understand very well what we do.
So I keep my dog waiting and take a look at the danger, examine it, touch it. If my dog wants to get closer, he can do that, otherwise we will walk again.
Should I lure my dog in this situation?
Counter question: In front of you is an object that e.g. could be a bomb.
However, the “specialist” who is called in does not continue to deal with the suspicious object, but tries to persuade you to also approach it. He may be offering you money for it.
Are you going there?
Or do you possibly feel safer if he focuses on the subject of your fear instead of faxing?
Realizing that the other person is dealing with the problem competently is the second step!
A danger is approaching: I drive it away!
Regardless of whether a person is harassing my dog, another dog is bothering him or an approaching horse seems threatening to him, I position myself between him and the supposed danger. I keep an eye on the “danger”, stop it and send it away if necessary.
We all know the “Oooooooch, you don’t have to be afraid of me” – sagers, the over-flexors and partout-petting-wool.
If there is any way: stand in front of your dog. Talk to them, make sure they look at YOU. Stop him with the palm of your hand raised and speak the magic words: “Please do not see / speak / touch my dog!”!
For an insecure dog, this is exactly the moment when he can lean back with a relieved sigh: saved!
The third step: My human being frees me from trouble!
A dog that has learned that its human offers him security can also dare something in its presence. If need be, he will rely on the fact that his person already knows what he is doing.
Jahaha, this form of training is exhausting and annoying for humans, but you don’t ask for less from your dog, do you?
And if you were just thinking “Never, I’m making a fool of myself!”, Then you’ve grasped the core problem: it’s about reducing social insecurity!
If you want your dog to work on itself here, it is best to set a good example.
You are not an “in the breach”? No “Don’t touch my dog!” Sager? Accepted!
You don’t have to head through the wall! It is crucial that you and your dog find a way that you both can handle!
If in doubt, please let us help you find a common path!
You can read everywhere that people should assert their “leadership position”. This is a plea to fill it in as best you can!
In addition to relationship work, there are of course also forms of employment that strengthen self-confidence: Success makes you confident!
Success from a dog’s perspective is a solved problem, a successful hunt …
An argument that you have decided for yourself, certainly also, only that is not one of the accepted forms of employment among people.
Loops, certificates and trophies, on the other hand, are not very important to dogs.
One way to build self-confidence through training is to work with the feed bag (pre-dummy).
From a dog’s point of view, the pre-dummy is not a toy, but actually prey – “flying dinner”, so to speak.
This is retrieved (with increasing level of difficulty), partly in cooperation with the person, but partly also as a “riddle” or “test of courage”.
On the one hand, the pre-dummy should be so important for the dog that he can overcome himself to get to it. On the other hand – and more important! – should he have learned that his human would never send him into ruin. “Wherever my person sends me to the apport, nothing will happen to me!”
Beyond praise and food rewards, I firmly believe that dogs know very well when something has worked well when they have done a good job. And I am also convinced that they will be proud of themselves! And here too, their self-confidence grows.
I also like to use mantrailing, the search for missing people, to strengthen my self-confidence.
Step one is the sense of achievement: “I found the person I was looking for!”
Difficulties are gradually built into further training: the trail leads e.g. past other dogs, playing children or other anxiety triggers.
The perspective shifts: The goal of the training is not “DO NOT”. Instead, humans and dogs pursue a common goal that makes “disruptive factors” take a back seat.
In the course of such training, humans and dogs grow together into a team that pursues common interests and in which one can rely on the other.
At the same time it is the beginning of a real relationship – the beginning of a wonderful friendship!