Our Our emotions are like beacons for our thoughts; we are what we think.
How does this apply to training your dog?
When we feel excited, like when we just get home from work, we speak in a higher tone of voice, our arms move quickly, and we move faster.
When we come home from work, our dogs are excited and happy to see us, as we are them. If we reciprocate their excitement, and do any – or all – of the above, what will they do?
Get more excited!!
They will start whining, jumping and moving quickly too.
This behaviour is fine when we are asking for it, such as when we’re playing, but it becomes a problem when we’re bring home an armful of groceries, or welcoming guests in with young children.
Our emotions are also communicated through the leash. When we’re tense or nervous about a dog walking towards us – for whatever reason – our dogs will pick up on that quickly. We may hold the leash tighter, our body will most definitely tense up, and we may walk faster or slower depending on the situation.
Dogs don’t converse verbally like we do, so reading our body language is the only thing they have to try and understand us. And they have become experts, according to some studies (see below). That is, after all, how they relate to other dogs. I would rely on how my dog felt about someone before I would accept someone’s word that they were a decent person!
Does this mean we can NEVER get excited, or feel nervous around our dogs?
We do, however, need to learn how to manage how we express how we feel in different situations. Sometimes, mirroring behaviour is great! Playing fetch, when we come home from work (after the initial excitement calms down), during training, etc.
It’s not appropriate when guests come over, when out for a walk, or riding in the car.