Hopefully, you’ve kept up with my last two articles on Your Dog’s T.E.M.P. and
have been able to study your dog or someone else’s dog, so you can see and hear what they’re trying to say. Recognizing what a dog is communicating, can turn a bad situation around. Recognize any dog that’s in “fear mode” is capable of fight or flight. Getting away will usually be their first choice. If that’s not possible, “fight mode” may kick in and can escalate very quickly from a low growl to an all-out bite or fight. Remember to not punish your dog for his growl. He has no other way to give a warning of being uncomfortable. Try to learn and see the signs ahead of time.
How To Make a Difference
Often, when I see a dog that’s timid and fearful, I see dog owners use punishment. If you’ve been keeping up with my writings, you know I’m not a fan. When asked “why?,” I then explain my logic and offer an alternative solution. One that’s unquestionably more
effective and reliable as it uses the principles of behavioral science. Most people’s response is excitement and relief. No person with a sane mind likes doling out punishment. It doesn’t feel good for anyone. The thing is, oftentimes by raising your voice or using physical dominance, you get a short-term result. I believe that’s why many still resort to it. However,…it’s short-term!
The thing is… You’re potentially training your dog to be MORE fearful or timid, when you really should be focusing on developing a long-term solution by building confidence. How we do that is by creating distance from things that trigger our dogs. Avoid creating anxiety by not allowing anyone to hug, push, poke, jump on, or grab your dog. Even allowing someone to pet your dog without first asking your permission is not a good idea – especially around children. It should be the dog’s choice. He will definitely let you know if it’s ok to interact, rather than having it forced on him. It’s socially appropriate. We don’t want everyone we come into contact with hanging all over us either!
Once the dog has decided it’s ok to interact, long strokes of the body or scratches on the neck and behind the cars are often the best way to show affection. Putting a hand directly over the dog’s head is more often than not, a threatening gesture to many dogs. If the dog retreats, ALWAYS respect their decision and allow them to choose to come back or not. Any dog can go from feeling comfortable to fearful quickly. A great way to change that is to teach your dog games and help change their state of mind through play.
Leave me a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how you’ve changed your dog’s T.E.M.P. 9/1