I’m giving you the opportunity to walk out with your life – James Bond
Here’s the thing: Dogs watch too much CSI and NCIS. Every time you step out of your house together, their immediate reaction is to think that there will be a ridiculous amount of murders occurring on your daily jaunt. The world is a scary place for them! They can’t read signs, they don’t know how safe your neighborhood is, and quite frankly, that garbage can is obviously housing a green grouchy animal. So, here’s your chance to be the secret agent you’ve always wanted to be. You get to let your dog know that you’re not going to let anything happen to either of you.
Here are some tips to calm down your anxious dog so that he feels like he’s in an episode of “Frasier” as opposed to “CSI”:
- Keep your dog by your side. He should never be ahead of your knee. This causes him not to face anything head on without you answering his question. If your pup is in front of you, he has to decide if there really is a grouchy monster in that garbage can. If he’s not in front of you, you get to answer that question for him.
- Go slow if you need to. There’s no need to rush through a walk. The slower you go, the more your dog has to pay attention to you. It also means things aren’t coming at you quite as quickly. There’s more time to react to any situations that may occur and more time to answer your pups questions.
- If you need to correct your pup or answer a question, just do a quick tug on the leash moving your arm straight up and down. It’s important to make sure you release any tension to ensure there is no pain inflicted. We’re aiming to gain your dog’s attention and let him know that “no, that bed of day lilies is not housing an evil cat”. Remember, nothing is about pain here.
- If your dog is becoming over excited, you can “slam the door” on him. What that means is you pivot on one foot to face your dog and stop any forward motion. This should be done quickly. Pretend as if someone has spilled a drink down your back. Keep your position in front of your dog until he has calmed down and refocused. This means he can be looking at you or avoiding whatever has had him amped up. Again, do not keep any tension on the leash when you stop your dog’s forward motion.
- Refrain from talking to your dog and telling him that “the squirrel is not out to hurt you”. James Bond does very little talking. The more you talk, the more your dog will think something is actually wrong. Using a high pitched voice to tell them that no one’s going to hurt them is not going to help. Use your body language and your calm demeanor to let them know. 007 is confident. Always. So start acting like him.
Being a good Pilot is like being your dog’s personal James Bond. Remember, that although walks aren’t scary for you, they can feel like walking into a war zone for your dog. The calmer and more confident you are the calmer your dog will be. The more you work on this the more your dog will start to fade out the voice over of “The most brutal murder Miami’s ever seen” and replace it with “wishing you all good mental health”.
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH