If you enjoy this article, learn more by signing up for a clinic with Cindy Brody! Click here for more information!
Does My Dog Love Me: The Happy Dog Therapy
There are 3 Massive Mistakes that rescue dog owners make that keep them stressed out by their dog’s constant anxieties and insecurities, and can lead to their dogs barking and nipping at people. The Happy Dog Therapy builds confidence for all dogs and their people.
In my work as an Animal Communicator and CinergE practitioner one of my favorite groups of dogs to work with is the shy and nervous dogs. So many rescue dogs come through the shelter system not knowing which way is up and because of this their fears can create behaviors that can make them hard to place. They have been through so much that they can be terrified by things that are completely normal for other dogs.
As a child I volunteered in our local shelter. I was appalled by the way dogs were handled. The fearful dogs didn’t stand a chance. They died. I made a promise then that I would do something to help change the world for them. Here is a gift for your dog, from my heart to yours and from your heart to their amazing hearts.
What is the problem with nervous dogs?
- Dogs had no early socialization and little to no basic obedience.
Dogs that are worried, frightened and anxious can often become fear nippers and can bark so much that you think you are losing your mind. They never learned their self-confidence with people ABC’s as a puppy. Often people were mean.
These poor dogs were never successfully taught basic obedience. They are actually self-comforting themselves with their nervous energy lifestyle. Their default behavior is to control their environments with their insecurities. It is what they know.
What are the ramifications?
Dogs that have been insecure, sometimes for many years, get themselves into big trouble. This is what they are comfortable with. When we get so frustrated with their behavior that we lose it and yell at them we are feeding into their symptoms. People with anxiety are considered ill. They are put on medications or taught to learn to control their symptoms with cognitive therapy. Sometimes it’s a combination of both.
Lots of nervous dogs are medicated, but they are not taught to be brave or to trust people. The anti-anxiety medicines prescribed for them help, but they do not cure the illness. They mask it. When the medications don’t seem to be working they are increased. I feel for these dogs as they walk around sometimes feeling like zombies. Sometimes I call it the “Eeyore syndrome” from Winnie the Pooh. They walk through life saying, “That’s okay, my tail doesn’t need to wag. I’m nervous, it’s just who I am.” These dogs don’t act out as much, but their anxiety isn’t the only thing being leveled.
You can help these dogs to feel better, to let go of their fears by talking with them. Through my hands on approach, CinergE for Dogs, you can help to physically and emotionally heal them.
…like in this STORY: Jesse’s Challenges
How does implementing basic obedience help immediately?
When dogs learn basic obedience it builds up their self-esteem. Basic obedience is truly animal communication. We are communicating confidence and they are begging for us to help them build their confidence.
When we teach them the simple confidence building exercises to sit, stay and look at me, we are teaching them a new healthy lifestyle. We are teaching them to trust us. Once they begin to trust us, they begin to have healthier self-esteem.
When we ask them to control their own behavior through simple ego building exercises they learn to control their anxiety. They can let down their guard and from there they can learn to trust people. I call it stuffing their scared personalities back into their bodies, by teaching them to self-calm with simple positive commands.
When a dog is in the red zone with fear he is no longer aware of himself, he is out of control. It’s as if he has left his body. This poor dog is ready to get himself into big trouble. His people are frustrated. They are becoming fearful of what their dog might do and are feeding right back into the problem with their own fear, now that he feels he has to protect them when people come to the door.
He needs your help and you can change his life. By putting him through ten minute basic obedience drills at least four times a day, you can change your dog’s life. Make the training a fun game! You can help your dog heal! We all know dogs just want to have fun.
When people bring me their fearful dogs they are amazed that within a few minutes their dogs are working with me. The dogs are waiting for me to tell them what to do. It is a huge relief for them. I always have amazing treats that are very hard for them to refuse. Fearful dogs may be to afraid to take a treat so make sure you’ve got the tastiest treat you can get your hands on. Dogs like food and it can help them to learn to be brave.
I start out by having the dog sit. If I get no response at my request and the dog is cowering I will start out tossing food at him with little to no eye contact. Once they start taking the food, I will get up and move around the room tossing food to them.
As they start to relax I will engage them in conversation. I will tell them they are good dogs, brave dogs, the best dogs, every time they take the treat. This is energy work. Words are energy workers, bad dog makes them feel bad, good dog makes them feel good. I will keep telling them that I love them and that I am proud of them.
When you do this exercise with your dogs you’re really communicating! When your dogs respond by wagging their tails or looking happy they are talking back to you in a positive way, they then get a treat. I also have other types of conversations with dogs and they are intuitive. I do this by listening to their inner voices. It is a skill we all have, but some of us need a little help learning to listen carefully. I also communicate by watching the dog’s posture. Every dog tells their story by the way they walk and the look in their eye. The more you study these obvious signs, the easier it will be to learn intuitive communication.
Every time a shy dog’s ears perk up in interest or their eye gets soft while I’m working with them, I say in a soft firm voice “good boy.” Once they start to trust me I will ask questions intuitively. With this information coming directly from the dog I can develop a program for his people family to continue at home. Everyone gets homework. As much as I would love to wave my magic wand, it’s not going to work that way.
Sometimes once a dog has told me his story, he will simply relax and the changes are swift and permanent.
In their fearful little hearts they want to please their people… they just don’t know how. Many have never learned how to trust people. Many were never socialized as puppies. Puppy mill dogs also known as “Pet Store Dogs” are often generations of dogs that have been neglected, unsocialized and abused. They have not learned their healthy emotional ABC’s.
When a dog’s self-esteem improves through learning basic obedience and playing doggy games, they are happier and less worried. They start to listen to you differently when you speak with them. When you call them they know something good is going to happen, because learning to feel brave makes you feel good! The dogs develop a positive recall when you call them and they come. When they come running with ears up and tails a wagging, excited for the next lesson, you will know that your dog is healing. They are not as submissive, frightened, and anxious. They are becoming proud and brave.
When I work with dogs I find out what they are feeling physically and mentally. As an animal communicator I can find out what the family dynamic is that feeds into the behavior. They will often tell me that they are yelled at, or forced into a bedroom when visitors come. They tell me that they want to be good dogs but they just don’t know how. They tell me that they are called names. The tone of your voice when you are calling a dog sends many messages. Practicing CinergE, I can help the dog to release physical pain that has a huge effect on the poor dog’s nervousness.
One of the best thing you can do to help heal your nervous dog is to find a great dog trainer, one that is experienced in reward based training. As your dog learns how to have great boundaries, he has less to worry about, because you become the pack leader. When you leave it up to him to pick and choose how to behave you create a nervous nipping dog. He needs direction. When you are the kind and benevolent leader, your dog doesn’t have to hold the weight of the world on his shoulders. He does not have the life experience to help him be calm, cool and collected. He needs to learn that from us by playing training games.
- Dogs get no exercise.
What is a couch potato dog?
For a nervous dog that lives a sheltered life inside the house, finding the comfort of the couch sometimes is it’s only refuge. These dogs may become very possessive of the couch. You may believe that the couch builds self-security, but it doesn’t because the dog is now resource guarding it and possibly you as well.
I’m not saying throw Muffy off the couch. I am saying Muffy’s world needs to grow and that Muffy needs to be asked to get on the couch. It’s also good when Muffy learns to sit next to you, not on you. This teaches her self-confidence. She doesn’t need you to help her to be calm, she must learn to self-calm. There is a time to sit on your lap and a time to sit next to you.
When a dog’s life is sedentary you may think it is being protected from the world, but this not teaching your dog stress management. It adds to the lack of socialization your dogs are already suffering from.
A nervous dog needs lots of exercise, it helps to burn off tension and helps them to trust that you are in charge. A nervous dog is filled with nervous tension. This energy, it if is not dealt with, will continue to grow. Dogs that nip or bite are filled with stress and anxiety.
Why is leash walking so important?
When a dog is walked on a leash, the leash becomes his lifeline to you. The leash connects from your heart to your dogs. It helps you to become a team and you are the team leader.
When you combine the basic obedience techniques with long walks your dog’s anxiety will melt away. We all have excuses why we don’t walk our dogs. Walking your dog is key to your dog relaxing and is great for your own health.
When I take the leash of a nervous dog I make sure that they know that I will protect them. I do this by the way that I walk. I walk in a take charge pace, the contact I have on the leash is firm, but gentle. I don’t yank or tug. I slip my left hand through the loop of the leash and then hold the leash firmly. This protects the dog from yanking the leash out of my hand. I let the leash drape across the front of my body, my right hand holds the leash giving the dog about 3 feet of lead.
As we walk, the dog learns that if he is calm he gets a little slack in the leash. If he is nervous, I take up the slack and ask the dog to walk at my side. This gives him confidence that he doesn’t have to do it alone. I am there for him every step of the way.
Every time the dog relaxes I release the leash and allow a little slack. If the dog stops to sniff he gets to wander forward on the leash. He is exhibiting regular dog behavior and his reward is a big sniff. By working with your dog on the leash you are teaching him to self-calm.
I also do lots of sit stays and look at me’s while we are walking. Every time the dog responds in a positive way, with a brave eye and alert ears, I give them a high value training treat. It’s the dog equivalent to a high five. I do not reward fearful behavior. I do not say oh it’s okay in a soft comforting voice, that feeds into the dogs behavior that something is wrong.
If the dog is nervous I take up slack on the leash and walk on. If the dog stops I may walk backwards and then forward. I may walk a serpentine until the dog is back walking in harmony with me. If the dog is frozen I will wait it out and go back to a look at me game.
How do I get started?
Having the right gear is a must! Harnesses are the best way to help your dog learn to walk on a leash. I love the harnesses that have a loop in the front to connect your leash to. When your dog pulls forward on the leash, the leash wraps around their shoulder and pulls back at them. They are braking themselves. I strongly suggest that you buy a 6 foot nylon or leather leash. Extendable leashes do not offer the control and soft touch that you need when redirecting your dog, whether your dog is nervous or pulling, the front attaching harness is the kindest approach.
If your dog is fearful of the great outdoors start with short walks. If you have a fenced in yard you can start there, get your dog familiar with the harness and leash. Practice your dogs basic obedience having them sit, stay and then ask him to give you his full attention.
- People are unaware their dogs are in mental and physical pain.
People are often unaware that their dog’s anxiety causes their sweet dogs to be in physical pain too. They hunch up their shoulders, hold their breath, they tuck their butts under them, their tails tucked tightly between the legs. They are hurting and a lot of them have tension headaches.
That pain feeds right back into their insecurities. By utilizing CinergE for Dogs I teach people to help ease the physical discomfort. I have seen dogs change right in front of me! Dogs that suffer from stress, that are fearful of objects and noises are truly suffering through and through. They are not happy being fearful, but it is all they know.
Their lives are very limited and when they charge the front door, barking and nipping at people’s legs. It puts them into danger of being considered biters. Biters have many limitations and sometimes are euthanized. By recognizing your dogs behavior as an illness that can be cured you can begin to help them.
Honoring my promise to shelter dogs, I teach people how to hear their dog’s inner voices and teach CinergE for dogs all over the country. When you combine the tips I gave you above with CinergE, your dogs will heal quickly!
Together we can make the world a better place for all animals, but I need your help! Sign up for one of my CinergE, Reiki or Animal Communication clinics and together we can reach so many more animals and people in need.