By Elle Williams, CPDT-KA Pet Columnist, Canyon Lake Insider
Every morning I walk my dogs, and each morning my little rat terrier mix, Bandit, gets to say hi to my neighbor. They are absolutely in love with each other. We chat about the usual: weather, gardening, and always about our dogs.
The other day, my neighbor said, “I heard that dogs are our mirror, the more I learn about my dog the more I want to know what’s going on in her mind.” I love hearing this because more often than not, it leads to a fascinating talk about instinct, body language, and always our influence on their behavior.
The concept that our dog is our mirror is not a new one. There are science studies published and books written just for this topic.
Dogs are social animals, and the way a pack stays in tune is by pack mentality. For example, if one pack member becomes fearful, the others follow. That’s what keeps them safe.
Dogs have an amazing ability to read our faces and body language. Thousands of years of evolution by our side have made dogs the world’s best lie detector. If you think you can fool a dog, I’m sorry but you can’t. They can literally smell our emotions. But that’s a topic for another column.
A great example of how they mirror us would be at the door. You come home, excited to see it waiting for your arrival. You walk in, exploding with excitable energy, “Oh hi Fluffy, mommy missed you so much,” and it jumps all over you, licking your face and jumping for what we think is joy. You and your dog are giving off the same energy. And yet so often I have students ask how to stop this jumping behavior. When I say, “It’s because you’re excited,” more often than not, that’s when things click. “Gosh, that makes so much sense,” my students reply.
This is the case for so many behaviors. Let’s say your dog is reactive and you dread the sight of another person walking their dog. You tense up, start to hold the leash tighter, then your dog barks out of anxiousness when the other dog walks by. You become frustrated and tug at the lead. “Stop it. Stop. Shut up!” Both are anxious and react. That is pack mentality.
Or what if you really love kids and every time you see a cute one playing in the street you just have to say hi. The dog picks up that energy and thinks, “Good things must happen if my human is so happy to see a small human. I’m happy to meet them as well.” Pack mentality goes both ways, the good and the bad.
This is why calm, confident leadership is so important during each moment spent with your dog. A calm, confident leader means a calm, submissive dog. Use rewards (affection, food, and toys) to help reinforce good behaviors. And when boundaries are overstepped, calm, assertive corrections help your dog learn where the line is drawn.
If you correct your dog out of anger, don’t be surprised if it returns that anger right back or doesn’t respond, assuming they call the shots since your energy is so unstable. Dogs don’t follow unstable leaders, only humans do. Using fear and force will only further hurt your relationship with your dog. There is nothing to gain if the pack turns on the pack.
The leader will always choose to do what’s best for the pack. If you are inconsistent with your leadership, your dog will respond with inconsistent behavior. Sure, they might be good one day, then the next day go on a chewing rampage. What did you expect?
There’s a great deal we can learn about ourselves by looking at our dogs. I am by no means perfect. The days I’m frustrated by life are the days my dogs get on my nerves, literally reflecting my emotional state right back at me. It’s times like that when I take a step back, collect myself, and move on calmly and confidently into the next moment.
Elle Williams is a local in-home dog trainer and the owner of Give a Sit Dog Training. She is certified in dog psychology, nutrition, and grooming, and specializes in basic and advanced obedience, puppy prep, and behavior adjustment training.
No spam, notifications only about local news stories.
Rancho California Water District invites the public to tour its new demonstration garden, featuring dozens of water-efficient plants, trees, and groundcovers displayed in 12 themed landscapes throughout the property. The
The City of Wildomar team won the 4th Annual Canyon Lake City Championship Scramble. Five four-man teams representing local cities and supporting organizations competed on Saturday in an 18-hole match
The following updates were provided by Riverside County District 1 Supervisor Kevin Jeffries. Size Matters!There has been increasing news coverage of the logistics industry (read: warehouses) being in some degree
The Canyon Lake POA Board of Directors on Tuesday approved a 28-day reading to revise rule LR.27. The revised rule prohibits any personal electric devices, such as electric bicycles, in
Canyon Lake Insider is an independent online news media platform that serves as a vital source of information for the Canyon Lake Community.
© 2023 Canyon Lake Insider. All rights reserved.