How sensitive is your dog to your emotions? Can your dog tell when you’re happy, sad, anxious or angry? Certainly some dogs are more sensitive than others.
I have several clients right now whose dogs are reactive toward other dogs on leash. While we are working on addressing the emotions and resulting behaviors of the dogs, we also are working on the emotions and behaviors of the humans holding the other end of the leash. Before I say anything, many of my clients tell me that they know their dogs are picking up on their anxiety. Part of my job is to help set up situations for my clients to feel in better control and less anxious so that they can better help their dogs.
My husband and I were talking not too long ago about how his emotions affect Romeo. If my husband gets upset about something (usually computer-related) he has noticed that Romeo will leave the room. At times, my husband has not even expressed his frustration out loud, he can just feel it boiling up inside him and Romeo departs the room. Certainly, dogs are excellent at picking up on tone of voice and body language that express our emotions, but they can even pick up on what we’re feeling before we realize we are giving any outward signs of it.
So here’s one more way to improve on your training and communication skills with your dog. Notice when your emotions are changing and note whether or not your dog reacts to it in some way. Then think about how that can impact your training if you get upset or frustrated with your dog, anxious about how your dog might react in certain situations, or in other contexts when working with your dog.