Watching Luke snoozing this morning on the bed, I'm still smiling after yesterdays little stress moment. Luke is my stress monkey; always has been and I'm sure always will be. I realized having spent three full days pretty much stationary with the dogs that I move around a great deal during the day. I've tried to stay put for Elsa's sake and mine being that I have been carrying her up and down the stairs. So yesterday when I had both Luke and Elsa in the nice cool family room I had to run upstairs. I hooked Elsa to a leash that was under a leg of the very heavy coffee table and asked Luke to stay put. Just in case I put a dog bed in the way so he could not follow me, so that Elsa wouldn't be upset.
I ran upstairs for about a minute and came back down. Luke is a follower, my constant shadow so I knew he would have wanted to come upstairs with me had I not put the bed on the stairs. Well, there he stood in the middle of the family room staring at the bed. "Why was this bed here?" Now he couldn't go upstairs after Mom. "What if the bed fell down the stairs?" This was most definitely distressing for Luke. I smiled as I lifted the bed and went to sit down. He turned his head sideways, opened his mouth wide and started to huff. He did a huge stress yawn and dropped his head upside down into my lap. I tousled his hair and lay on the floor trying to diffuse the moment.
Our reactions to stress or fear are the most important factor in helping our dogs. Elsa does not stress like Luke does but she is more fearful of things that she does not recognize. This is common in young dogs; the older they get the more they learn not to worry about things like this. I am constantly on "chill" ready with Elsa. Our reaction to a fearful situation can make or break a moment. I am also always on the look out for things that might cause a fearful response.
Whether our dog is fearful of a stranger, responding to an unrecognizable object or stressing about a situation, we need to chill. Our dogs are constantly watching us, aware of our every response. So we need to keep our response in check, chill even. We need to go above and beyond to stay cool. Sometimes it is difficult to be relaxed when we ourselves are startled or frightened, but you gotta do your best. Your dog is watching you. The more you ignore a situation the better. Sure you need to react and act but it needs to be in a way that emits calm, cool and relaxed.
Our dogs are watching our every move.