Updated: Apr 14, 2022
Something talked about a lot is how a lack of confidence and resilience can make life difficult for dogs. Those who share their lives and homes with the complex dogs, those frightened, anxious souls who struggle with the world, are particularly aware of how dogs need this confidence and resilience. An important factor we talk about far less often is the need for confidence on the human end of the lead.
Think about the lead for a moment. For at least a part of most walks a lead acts as a physical connection between dog and human. The start of the walk, from just inside the garden gate or the front door, to the local fields, common, park, whatever space where dogs can run free, that physical link between human hand and canine body exists. At the end of the walk, heading home or back to the car park, again the dog is at one end of a lead, the other held in a human hand.
We know that our dogs are incredibly sensitive creatures, able to pick up cues from their environment that we are not even aware exist. Studies have shown strong indications that dogs can actually smell human emotions. Knowing they can smell how we are feeling, imagine how quickly a dog can pick up on any tension via that physical connection.
It's clear then that we need to work on confidence in the human side of the equation every bit as much as in the canine side. What can we do to increase our own confidence to allow us to help our dogs?
Look at how to reframe our thoughts
It can be easy to focus on the difficulties that come with sharing our lives with complex dogs. We can feel trapped, like there is no way to move forward from where we are right now, because our dog is ‘difficult’ in many peoples’ views. Instead of this, try thinking of you and your dog facing challenges, and facing them together. Thinking of us as overcoming these things together automatically reframes our outlook to a more positive one – through the strength of our relationship, we are going to get through this!
Allow ourselves to see just how far we have come
Realising that our dog is struggling and looking for ways to help them is a huge step forward. All the work that has gone into researching walking locations and routes, finding hiding spots and alternative paths, working out the best time of day to go for a walk etc. These things are all massively positive as a step in helping and understanding our dogs, in knowing and fulfilling their needs. By doing this and knowing when our dogs need to get away shows we have developed fantastic skills in observation and environmental awareness, and these are definitely skills of which we can be proud!
Realise we are doing the best we can for our dog
If you are reading this then you have already discovered Good Guardianship and are interested in learning how to have the best, closest, and most rewarding relationship with your dog. Knowledge really is power and the more we know and understand our dogs, the better we can do for them. By being here you are taking a massive step forward in ensuring you do the very best in your care for and of your dog. Be proud of that fact.
Changing the way in which we think about things in this way helps levels of confidence, both in ourselves and also in our dogs, increase exponentially. Confidence and belief in ourselves to be able to keep us and our dogs happy and safe make for positivity in our actions. That positivity travels down the lead to the dog in just the same way as tension does. Feeling that positivity from us will result in the dog feeling even more able to trust in us to look out for them. The whole cycle becomes self-fulfilling and self-reinforcing.
By building confidence in ourselves with these three things, we lot our dogs also have more confidence is us, and that can only be a good thing!