Getting Comfortable with Feeling Discomfort

Sometimes, your client’s dog behavior is less about your client’s dog and more about how your client shows up!

They take on the judgments from others saying what should and shouldn’t be done with their dog and how they’re getting it all wrong, tearing at their insides.

When they allow themselves to take on what others say or do or what the outdated culture of dog training dictates, creates stress within your client

They are filled with self doubt and worry.

On top of navigating through these limited beliefs of what is possible, your clients are also challenged by how to help their dog who is barking and lunging at other people and dogs. A history is already established.

The weight of the world on your client’s shoulders even before they take a step outside.

When your client is feeling burdened, they are overwhelmed by feelings of worry and even fear.

A person’s fear response can vary from fight, flight, freeze or fiddle around just like their dogs!

When your client’s dog is startled or experiencing a frightening situation (real or perceived) and these limited beliefs are swirling around your client’s minds, they are already at a limited capacity to step in and respond.

In this situation, your client is startled too and their sense of fear will take over and they will want to move away while their dog may respond differently.

Your client’s dog may instead move towards the scary thing responding with a fight reaction. This will lead your client to jerk on the leash.

Your client and their dog may both freeze. This also leads them into danger as this continues to create a situation which your client and their dog feel unsafe most likely resulting in their dog barking and lunging.

At this point, your client may then pull on the leash because they are trying to move away.

There are a number of different scenarios can occur when your client is not grounded in the here and now.

When your client can stay present and remain in the pocket of a situation that is perceived to be scary, your clients are able to strategize in navigating through this surprising situation.

Guiding your clients to be comfortable with discomfort will allow them to expand their mindset and help them override their own fear response when they and their dog are confronted with a surprising situation.

How can you guide your clients in stopping their minds from taking over?

  1. I practiced saying to myself, “I got this” before I stepped out the door when I would walk Jack. As you may know, Jack was easily overwhelmed and I struggled with not knowing what to do at the time. Telling myself, “I got this”, put in an empowered mindset and better able to recognize and respond to situations I knew would create havoc for Jack.
  2. Deep breathing. Sometimes those scary situations happen in a blink of an eye (imagine coming around a corner and a dog charging a fence as you’re walking by with your dog). I learned to recognize yes this is scary, but we’re not in immediate danger. I take a deep breath to center myself and reconnect with Jack. As I become centered, my breath is calming my sympathetic nervous system. I’m now in my thinking brain and able to problem solve. This eases the burden of the experience on Jack and we can both move away being less emotionally charged.
  3. I guide others to do step 1 and 2 as well as take shorter walks. As your clients are successful with shorter distances, this builds their confidence to keep moving forward.
  4. Guide your clients to take a break from practice. In our culture, we are not accustomed to taking a break. A pause in practice will allow space for your client and their dog to decompress. Walks aren’t everything. There are ways your client can bond with their dogs that doesn’t require a structured walk.
  5. Teach your clients to celebrate their wins! Celebrate a win regardless of how big or small. This is a motivator for them to keep going.

If you’re curious how to create an embodied coaching relationship with your dog training clients, set up your Uniting Call with me!

Published by houndbiz

Katherine Porter is a force free, reward based dog behavior advisor and consultant serving clients and their companion dogs worldwide. Her calm and gentle approach in coaching clients in effectively communicating what they want to their dog blends her MSW background into her dog training and behavior practice. Katherine was a behavior consultant for Heeling Hounds after graduation. She opened Four Paws and You Dog Training LLC when the military relocated her family to Fort Sill, OK in 2015. During this time, she volunteered with Rainbow Bridge Can Wait where she provided post adoption consultations to new pet parents. She also developed and implemented tailored behavior modification plans for highly reactive dogs residing at the shelter. She also provided educational programs to military children through interactive workshops at the Fort Sill School Age Center. In 2017, Katherine relocated Four Paws and You Dog Training LLC to Germany. She served the Armed Forces communities in Bavaria. She continued coaching and advising her clients in addressing their companion dog’s fearful and reactive behavioral issues. Katherine takes a Do No Harm approach first and foremost in providing behavioral plans. She is committed in serving clients with gentle and modern science approaches in modifying behavioral concerns such as reactivity, aggression, separation anxiety and fear based responses. Katherine is a member of the Pet Professional Guild. She is focused on integrating a holistic and modern approach in addressing her client’s pet companion reactive behavior issues.

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