Dogs live in the moment. They are instinctual, not intellectual... Dogs will "let it go". Unless, of course, their human doesn't let it go... Humans tend to "hold on to" everything... emotions... memories... Imagine: Your dog was interacting with another dog, and then all of a sudden one went "bark bark bark" and you saw teeth and fast movements. No one was hurt. You separate the two dogs and think "my dog is aggressive!" Your heart beats fast. Your hands shake. You're scared about what you just saw... Why did that even happen?!? You're unsure. "Oh my gosh, your dog is so bad"... "What's wrong with your dog?" You're embarrassed by what others may say. You hold on to this memory as if it was the norm, rather than an anomaly. And now... you're holding the leash a little tighter on walks, and pulling your dog away when another gets close. You decide not to take your dog to the family picnic because your cousin's labrador retriever might be there... You're fearful for what may happen? If so, you're telling your dog that there is something to fear. Dogs read energy, which is a combination of emotion and intent. That energy travels right down the leash. You're unsure of what may happen? Then your dog is unsure, too.
Become aware of your emotions.
Become aware of how they affect your dog.
Become aware that your fear and anxiety will cause your dog to become fearful and anxious.
When you improve, your dog will improve. Here are a few tips:
Staying inside, or "away" is a Catch-22.
Take a deep breath when you're feeling unsure.
Slow down everything that you do together with your dog.
Say "no" to on-leash dog-to-dog greetings.
Advocate for your dog; control the environment.
Utilize space to your advantage... cross the street if you need to.
Be patient... Change takes time.
All for now! Kate