Can you emotionally lean on your dog?

I’ve touched on our emotions effecting our dogs emotions before but I want to drive into it a little bit more as it seems to be coming up a fair bit with you guys.

A lot of the people I speak with are in business for themselves or are in a role with some pretty intense responsibilities, some it’s the stress of the roles within the job for some it’s the stress of the emotional side of the job – one great example is vets and vet nurses it’s often underestimated by those outside of the role just how much emotional stress their job puts on them. Thank you by the way guys I so appreciate the job you do.

Regardless you guys are exposed to a hefty amount of stress on a daily basis.

What comes up a lot is the guilt of owners “using” their dog for comfort and creating some of those issues.

Guys, you aren’t entirely to blame in fact, dogs are great for stress relief and helping with anxiousness and anxiety. It’s why we are able to have service dogs.

And heres how I developed my love and connection with dogs,
From the age of 8 I suffered regular daily panic attacks, I would go into freeze mode, go dead quiet and just sit there waiting for the wave of adrenaline that surged through me to pass, no one ever noticed and it wasn’t discovered until I was 15 that, that’s what it was, I thought everyone felt like that every single day, I just sucked at dealing with it. Turns out that’s not the case.

Partly because of this I wasn’t an easy child but it didn’t take long to work out what calmed me down the fastest, I was told often to go out and sit with the dog.

Dogs became my safety, when I was with them I didn’t get any anxiety, at age 11 I began trick training with our 1 year old lab, it was so therapeutic and the work we did together brought us closer together it was like we had an unspoken language only we could understand.

With her I was able to be in the present moment, anxiety and stress come from anticipating the future, this is why meditation, breathing, yoga helps relieve stress it brings you back to the present moment.

Being with your dog can be incredibly therapeutic when other things aren’t over shadowing your relationship with your dog but when you have issues that are blocking your way to that, you add more stress to your day, more guilt more cruddy emotions and then a wall gets built between you and your dog and superficial connections are formed, bad habits are made.

This is when we allow our dogs to become needy because we would rather than then them not want us at all, we crave a deeper connection and a better way of being with them but we don’t know how and with all the stresses we face on a daily basis, well this will just have to do wont it?

I’ve mentioned before my dear old Bundy and his anxiety and reactivity and I am so god dam blessed we got on top of it, especially before last year. I had a bit of a bumpy ride, I ended up bed ridden, I was stressed, anxious, I felt guilty for where I was at and that I couldn’t take care of my family, waves of anxiety washed over me during that time, and during that time I had the dogs piled in bed with me.

I needed physical contact, it brought comfort and eased the anxiety but shane was busy with the kids and couldn’t sit with me, which I totally understood, he normally doesn’t like the dogs on the bed but for weeks at a time there they were every day by my side smooshed up against me. I would listen to their breathing, concentrate on where I was at and that each day bit by bit I was getting better.

And I did! Hooray, now the thing is. Did that screw my dogs up doing that?

No

Did it impact on their behaviour? Did they act out? Did they get bored, frustrated being cooped up inside on the bed day after day?

Nope.

Did it make them stressed or anxious?

No.

I have no doubt you have come across it before, that how you behaviour the emotions you show will affect your dogs behaviour and you have seen the impacts of your emotions on your own dog so it reinforces it. It must be true!

There is truth in it. But it’s not THE truth.

Guys, we are human. We fall apart sometimes, we are way too hard on ourselves most of the time, trying to convince ourselves we are fine everything else is holding it together so we must be able to do the same do it better.

Don’t buy into that lie we all have our shit.

And you know whats one of the best cures to getting out of our own head? To let go of the crazy high standards we hold for ourselves to let go and just have a laugh, be in the present moment?

Spending QUALITY time with our dogs.

Where we can let go of the stress and enjoy them for who they are and not worrying if we are screwing them up and making matters worse, being able to lean on them when we need it and hand them the world every opportunity we get.

That’s why we love our dogs so much, no matter what we do and how much we stuff it up they show up every day just trying to do the best they know how for us, even if they get it miserably wrong we can see that just don’t know any better, as much as what goes on with them can rub us up the wrong way and feel super frustrated and fed up at times, we know it’s not them. For the most part we are super understanding about it, so we get to work doing the best we can to teach them.
But it’s not easy.

If it were I wouldn’t have a job, you guys are brilliant, so smart and so capable of doing this, and I just wish you could be as kind to yourselves as you are with you dog and understand that, you are showing up and doing the best that you can you just don’t know what’s missing, what needs to be put in place to fix what isn’t working.

I assure you, when you get to work on communication and connection with your dog, when you get the right pieces of the puzzle in the right places your dog can be a stress relieving source in your life opposed to a stress inducing element.

That’s the greatest gift you can give to not only your dog but to yourself. Isn’t it why we get dogs in the first place? Someone to always hang out with, let the rest of the world just melt away and whilst your with them it’s just you and them, experiencing life together, exploring together, playing together or just cuddling together.

My family have their own things going on my son is almost 5 and doesn’t cuddle with me like he used to, but no matter what is going on I know that there are two family members that are always up for spending time with me, that never lose their enthusiasm, they aren’t ever going to grow out of me, throw their emotions in my face and tell me I’m a mean mum, and I love it, it’s the most consistent thing in my life and it brings a sense of safety and security and I know it makes them feel the same.

The information out there makes us feel like that’s completely unhealthy but the numbers don’t lie the amount of people who feel the same, need and want the same from their dog, they may be denying it because that’s what they have been taught but when we dig a little deeper that’s what we uncover.

It’s ok to lean on your dog, it’s ok to want him to want you, love you and adore you, it’s ok to want to be able to enjoy your time with him be present and have your stress and anxiety melt away, it’s ok to show your emotions in front of him, even when it’s ugly crying on the couch to a movie because you had a tough week and you know you need a good cry.

I have had several clients who have had failed pregnancies you can bet they leaned on their dogs during that tough time, and I am so thankful I was able to help them build a healthy relationship with their dogs so that they were able to do that, without having to worry about how it might affect their dogs behaviour, because there is nothing worse and nothing more unhealthy for a human than to spend time pretending, trying not to fall apart in the one place they should be able to with the one thing that could probably help them through that situation.

Truth is your emotions are always going to be there, and they will always have an impact and influence on your dog, and they are usually so god dam helpful during those times.

BUT

The structure for harbouring a good healthy relationship NEEDS to be there.

That’s what is missing, the information that should be out their shouldn’t be hide all emotions don’t let your dog know that you are secretly anxious and pre planning outings a good couple of hours before you actually leave the house and that you are on edge hoping no one appears and sets your dog off.

When you are doing the correct work, your emotions and your dogs emotions are allowed to show and you both learn how to work through it and passed it.

For my clients it’s like watching them come to me with two big balls of tangled up string and I get to watch the process of them both unravel themselves, things get a little shaky whilst the emotions finally get to properly surface then things start to calm down and come together.

It’s the best thing and I feel so privilege to be able to watch it happen, the process blows me away every time.

You wont ever find the answer to your dogs problems by denying your own emotions, they just fester under the surface, its what adds to the frustration and resentment the demotivation and the desire for things to be different.

There is only one way through. and it’s by doing the work.

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