October 12, 2020

You don’t make it worse, but you don’t make it better

When things go sideways and your dog acts crazy, people say that if you are stressed, scared or overwhelmed, you will make things worse.

You are supposed to be calm and level-headed, confident and unafraid. Right? But what if things are truly scary – your dog is trying to tackle the little pup that just ran up from out of nowhere. What about the woman from next door trying to hug your dog and you are worried they will nip at her if she gets any closer?

When these scenarios arise, you are supposed to find the inner peace and confidence to lead your dog through these dangerous situations. You are told: stop holding your breath, handle the leash with less tension, remain calm – but often this feels impossible. Adrenaline, stress and anxiety are not taps you can simply turn off whenever you want. Worry and fear can’t just be turned down like a volume knob.

If you are unable to ignore or eliminate these real responses, do you blame yourself for the problems you are experiencing with your dog? You might like to know that you are not making anything worse - you could be more helpful, but it doesn’t get any worse because of you.

The feelings and thoughts you have only make it harder for you to help, they don’t make your dog do anything differently or more intensely. Just like you, your dog is wrapped up in their own feelings and thoughts about the issue. They often don’t even know you’re there.

Shamanic dog training helps you recognize what keeps you from helping your dog in these scenarios. 

There are 4 factors that contribute to the stress, fear and anxiety that comes up for you:
  1. Worst-case scenario fears 
    When you imagine the worst-case scenario - the bite, the fight, the bark, the accident, the disaster – even if its not an actual possibility, it can feel like its going to happen any moment, and you get frozen with fear and anxiety.

  2. How you wish things are
    Wishing that things could be different brings up discouragement and hopelessness, when faced with the reality that you are nowhere near the wished-for outcome - leaving you feeling inadequate and hopeless.

  3. Feeling embarrassed and judged by others
    Sensing the judgments and opinions of others can send you into a spiral of shame, frustration and humiliation – wondering what they are thinking and saying about you and your dog.

  4. Not knowing what to do
    Reliance on obedience can backfire, especially with your dog is reacting poorly to something out of your control, and then you have nothing else to try – leading to discouragement, lack of confidence and stress.

When you experience these factors without awareness, they can bring up sensations like fear, hopelessness, frustration and discouragement. Shamanic dog training teaches you to be aware of these responses and to work with them, rather than be rattled by them.

By working with the 4 factors you can gain confidence, get creative and remain stable in the very situations that used to turn you to jello.

Here’s how you can work with the 4 factors to your advantage:

  1. Worst-case scenario fears
    Take the potential of a worst-case scenario seriously. Acknowledge it and create a safety plan to prevent it from happening. If you worry your dog will run up to people at the park and bark at them, use a long line to prevent them from getting to close to people. Let your worry work for you.

  2. How you wish things are
    Letting go of how you wish it could be can help you pay attention to what is really in front of you. When you see things clearly for what they are and not what you wish they could be, everything becomes more simple.

  3. Feeling embarrassed and judged by others
    Don’t let your worry about the outside world shake the commitment you have to staying present and serving and preserving the love you need to nurture – even inside this rocky moment with your beloved dog.

  4. Not knowing what to do
    We often want to pick our dogs up, hold them back, speak to them softly, give them a hug, actions discouraged by traditional dog training – for risk of diminishing our authority, reinforcing “bad” behaviour or overprotecting our dogs. Shamanic dog training teaches us to recognize our wisdom and trust it more.

Being out with your dog can be challenging, and there isn’t ever a clever solution that works every time. When you know how to navigate the feelings, emotions and thoughts flooding and soaking into your system, there are ways to stay calm and present and be more helpful to your dog. Shamanic dog training helps you see clearly and remain fresh, so you and your dog have an easier time living the life you are building together.

When you realize that you aren’t the reason your dog is struggling, it creates the freedom to develop more confidence and deepen your creativity, and that leads to improvement on levels beyond obedience training. You can begin to build tools for real change that bring ease, love, play and expansion to everyday moments and struggles.


If you would like more information about going through this process with yourself and your own dog, Tamryn Fudge is always here to help.  Contact her at 250.572.7068 | tamryn@theshamanicdogtrainer.com

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