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Puppies and Emotions

All puppy experiences (and most, if not all, behaviour modification) should emphasise emotional development/ management. With puppies, resilience and optimism are key. (Thanks to Absolute Dogs for the optimism concept). Bolder/ higher arousal puppies, will also need to learn self control. For extremely timid puppies, courage and confidence will be more important than self control.

You aren't finished once the puppy reaches 4 months old. You've laid some foundations. That's all.

Dogs, like humans, have a level of emotional and physical hard wiring (their genetics). We (dogs and people) can all feel a wide range of emotions but we all tend to have some that occur more often.

We don't tend to worry about the so called 'positive' emotions, but I think we're a bit quick to label the others as 'negative'/ shadow emotions. Anxiety, fear and anger exist for very valid reasons (survival). The problem occurs when they show up too much/ too often/ in unnecessary situations etc.

Looking at emotional behaviour which causes concern, there are lots of angles to consider :

1. How big the feelings get. (Is there an explosion? If so, how big is it?)

2. Is the explosion underground or above ground? ( Less behaviour or more?)

3. How quickly does the explosion occur? (How long is the fuse?)

4. How long the explosion lasts. ( How long is the dog very high or very low?)

5. The effects in the aftermath. (How long does it take for the dog to fully recover? )

Constantly trying to 'fix' a dog's problems can lead to constantly stressing the dog, with no allowance for recovery time. This might lead to overwhelm so that your dog 'shuts down' and does very little (you see this a lot on Cesar Millan episodes.)

I bet you're familiar with this yourself. It's that 'There's no point in even trying.' thought which often leads to feelings of isolation, worthlessness and detachment in us. If you can relate to this you'll understand that 'shut down' is not the same as calm. In fact, an explosion may still occur further down the track because nothing has gone away, it's just got a lid on it.

Genetics contribute to what the common feelings are and how they're expressed. The environment (this includes you and the experiences you provide) is also very important. It can have a positive/ negative or neutral effect.

Original post here.


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