Fear and our reaction
I spent a good part of yesterday in the kitchen; which means that the dogs did as well. I took the old gals out for a big walk in the morning and then Luke and I hit the park for some power walking. We all had a good workout; then it was into the kitchen. Tilley spent most of the day snorfling; she has not always been so into food but her senior years have brought on a serious need to continually search for something to eat. It is easy to see why older dogs can put on weight if you are not careful.
Luke was an occasional visitor to the kitchen; he came in and out often, he wanted to lay on the big bed but Jessie had taken it. So he would come in; look at the bed and then leave and lay in the living room. On one of his visits he came to my side and rubbed his head on my leg; he needed a snuggle. As we were snuggling the broom slid down the wall and hit the floor. He startled; immediately his ears went up as he watched it intently on the floor. Luke does not like when inanimate objects move on their own. He turned to get some reassurance from me; his ears back fearfully. I quickly stood up and continued baking; watching him out of the corner of my eye, but otherwise ignoring him.. He looked at the broom and back to me several times before letting it go. I let him know through my actions that the moving broom was a non-issue.
It is so very important to lead by example; your dog is constantly watching you and your reactions. We have startle reflexes just like dogs; but if we are startled by something along with our dog we need to keep it in check. I have readjusted my own behavior many times so as not create a fearful situation. Fearful behaviors can quickly be ingrained by our own reactions. Dogs can pick up the smallest signal from us that we are fearful, nervous, stressful or angry. Acting plays a huge part in living with and educating our dogs.
If you happen to have a nervous type of dog like my Luke; then your acting career will be put to the test often. But even steady dogs; the type who rarely flinch and take everything in stride will have their moments. And it can be the ones who rarely need an oscar performance who are the toughest. With dogs like Luke; the nervous type you are always sort of ready to act. The unflappable dogs may catch you off guard when something arises and they have a fearful or aggressive reaction. Giving off a calm and confident image can be one of the most influential lessons you can give your dog.
We display behaviors on a day to day basis; our dogs are constantly watching. What messages are you sending your dog's way?