In nature, when a dog in a pack shows excited or unbalanced energy, the entire pack takes it as a warning of impending danger. It’s remarkable how quickly a sleeping pack of dogs will go on high alert when one dog barks! And it is just as remarkable how quickly the pack settles down when its leader concludes that there is no threat and returns to a calm, assertive state.
Now imagine how your dog feels when you express unstable energy. It’s a signal that something is wrong and so he reacts with anxiety, fear or excitement. If you’re not in tune with your own energy, you’ll have no idea why your dog is reacting that way. But because dogs communicate primarily with energy, he read you in a second.
That’s why it is so important to be aware of and manage your energy when with your dog. Until you can manage your own energy, you cannot manage your dog’s.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to recognize and change your energy state from moment to moment. For example, your body language and posture not only reflect your energy, but can also help you alter it.
If you’re on the walk with your dog and she’s expressing anxiety, take a moment to check your body language. If you’re tense and hunched over, you’re not expressing calm and assertive energy and your dog is reacting to it.
But you can change this in a matter of moments. Stand straight, with your head up, shoulders back, and chest out. Keep both feet flat on the ground. Relax your arms and keep your hands out of your pockets.
Breathe deeply and exhale slowly. Focus on your breathing while clearing your mind of random thoughts. If it is safe to do so, close your eyes and concentrate on what you can smell and hear. You’ll likely feel a sense of relaxation and calm. After a few moments, continue the walk while maintaining that state. Your dog’s behavior will tell you when you’ve achieved calm, assertive energy.
Remember the feeling and the body language, and practice being able to move into this mode of being upon demand. With practice, it can become second nature ‘ and your dog will thank you!