Sean O'Shea from The Good Dog LA has something to say

Today was a great swimming day, swimming is such a great overall exercise for dogs, it can prevent as well as repair so many injuries that a dog has. It is part of our holistic training program. It also works great integrating nervouse or aggressive dogs into a stable pack.

 

This is from one of my fellow trainers Sean O'Shea who trains dogs out in LA

    The Good Dog Training And Rehabilitation

Hey all, so in the last post I talked about the importance of maintaining harmony between your mental intention and your body language/physical conversation with your dog, in order to achieve a much higher and clearer communication and conn...ection with your dog. Today, we're going to talk about emotion and how it affects the relationship between us and our dogs.

Often when I walk into someone's home for the first time, and assess the dynamic and energy conversation between the humans and the dog(s), I find that the fundamental cause of the problem is due to the humans leaning too heavily on their dogs emotionally (which is almost always unconscious).

And just what does this mean? Our dogs are in the unenviable position of fulfilling (and filling) many emotional voids we have...even though they're not equipped nor able to do this for us. They become cute and furry stand-ins for our children, our friends, our family, our lovers, our husbands, our wives etc, etc.

And why do we put them in this role? For a million reasons. Many people struggle with hurt, loneliness, disconnect, and alienation...and for others its the simple need to care for, nurture and share love...to connect with something that is safe...that will not let you down, that cannot hurt you. And our dogs, who connect to us so easily and completely, are incredibly convenient sources to refocus this energy, affection, love, that many of us are unable, or don't have the opportunity to share within the human world.

Unfortunately, what happens when we get into this mode with our dogs is, we find it very difficult to share discipline, rules, structure, firmness, corrections and consequences. It can be difficult for many to share what they perceive as "heavy" or "mean" interactions with that which occupies the most special place in your heart.

Some people will say, "This is why I have a dog...so I can love it." Ok, fair enough, but here's the problem with that: Dogs don't know that they're acting as surrogate children, friends, lovers, family...they only know that the human or humans that they live with, who share affection before leadership, freedom before structure, and a primarily soft energy...are weak.

And this weakness freaks our dogs out. It causes our dogs that crave stability through leadership, discipline and structure, to become unstable, nervous, anxious, fearful, aggressive messes.

When our dogs feel that its human pack members are weak, due to the soft energy and the overly emotional environment that it lives in, our dogs feel compelled to take over...to fill the leadership vacuum that is glaringly obvious to them.

Imagine it this way, you sit a 10 year old child down and explain to them that from now on they are in charge of everything in the house. The making of all the money, paying the rent, paying the bills, buying the food, protecting the family, everything. And you make it clear to them that its all their responsibility, and that if they screw up, it will mean a family catastrophe of epic proportions.

Imagine the stress this would cause a child....sounds pretty scary to me.

Now I know that it's hard to imagine this scenario, because it sounds so ridiculous...no one would put this kind of pressure on a kid...but many of us do it every day to our dogs.

We unknowingly put them in this monumentally stressful position of being in charge. Now this example may sound dramatic, but stop for a moment, and think about it from your dogs standpoint. In his world, there's always clear leadership, clear rules...and whoever has the strongest energy will be the one who's in charge and the one making all the decisions.

But if you are sharing a primarily affection based relationship, with lots of freedom, few rules, and soft energy, you are recreating all the same stressors that that 10 year old child would be experiencing.

This is the major reason so many of our dogs are so unstable. We fulfill our own needs before we fulfill our dog's needs. We share primarily affection and soft energy, and we unknowingly place our dogs in charge. And yeah, it feels good to us to be in a constant love mode, a constant play mode, a constant babying mode...but we're damaging the very things we love so much.

And how do I know this? Because I did everything wrong. Because I was that terrible dog owner. I spoiled my first two dogs to the nth degree. I wouldn't conceive of using a crate, having any rules, using a prong collar, or even having my dog walk next to me...I wanted my dogs to have as much love, freedom, and fun as he could. I was fulfilling what I thought my dogs needs were...but boy was I mistaken. What did I get from having no rules, no structure, no leadership, and nothing but love energy? I created two extremely dangerous dogs. Both of them became highly dog aggressive, seriously dominant, and were truly menaces to my neighborhood.

After several very ugly situations I realized I had to fix my dogs, and fast. And guess what I found out along the way? Yep, that I was the problem...I was what needed fixing. There were many things occurring in my life that were out of balance, and I was using my dogs to compensate. I was leaning WAY too hard on my dogs emotionally. What they represented to me was seriously out of balance.

A serious change was needed, and so I buckled down, and created a major transformation...in every department. And now those same dogs that had animal control at my house for a dangerous dog situation, are the models of exceptional dog behavior.

This was my journey from fulfilling my emotional needs first, to putting my dogs needs first...and that's when my dogs magically transformed.

These dogs, and our journey together, is why I became a dog trainer.

If you follow my videos or pictures, you'll see the same two dogs that were once dangerous, dominant, and unpredictable, walking and playing with new dogs constantly. Same dogs, different mindset from the owner, totally different behavior.

To me, the highest form of love and affection I can share with my dog is the fulfillment of his needs...so he can be comfortable, secure, relaxed, peaceful, and balanced. And what are these needs? Strong leadership, challenging exercise, balanced energy, rules, structure, consequences, consistency, play, affection, and guidance of how to live in this human world of ours.

It's about balance. Balancing your inner leader and your inner lover. If you're having problems with behavior, ask yourself honestly what emotional role your dog plays in your life. Your dog will thank you for it.