7 tips to successful self-management with dog difficulties

Can you be a confident, controlled, and calm dog owner coping with whatever your canine companion throws at you? Yes, you can!

When you consider that dogs can sense what their owners are feeling and how they learn to recognise the patterns that trigger any changes, you can understand the importance of controlling your own behaviour to support them.

Trying to remain calm when your dog challenges your sanity is often easier said than done, but with the art of consciously controlling your emotions and actions you can help limit the subsequent influences these have on your dog.

When you master the art of self-controlled responses you will be in a position to be able to take on any challenges that come your way and stand by a dog that you may otherwise have questioned was beyond you.

What I personally love most about this is gaining the confidence and ability to take on rescue dogs that are being overlooked in kennels due to their need for continued training. You instantly start feeling the rewards and develop an amazing bond with your dog. I have done this several times now and will continue to as and when I have the space. I was once asked if you needed special skills to take on a rescue dog that needed extra help and my answer was simply no, just kindness, patience and understanding.
Don’t worry about other people
One thing I often hear from people is how embarrassed or ashamed they feel when their dog acts up in public and attracts unwanted attention from onlookers and, quite honestly, unless your dog is affecting them personally or you are paying or asking for advice, it’s not their concern.
Other dog walkers may appear to have perfectly behaved pooches, but you don’t know what they are like behind closed doors, you don’t know what they have been through to achieve such behaviour.
  • It’s not about anyone else, it’s about you and your dog.
  • Don’t let anyone upset you, influencing your feelings or actions.
  • If people pass judgement, ignore them, just focus on you and your dog.
  • You know your dog and can act according to its individual needs.
  • Don’t be worried about what you think others may be thinking, there’s no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. You should be admired for your commitment to your dog.
Remain calm
The owner’s influence on a dog is massive and dogs are rarely given the credit they deserve for picking up on this. Sometimes it doesn’t even enter someone’s head that they are feeding their dog vibes, which are impacting their behaviour.
  • Consciously monitor your emotions and learn to recognise when you need to make changes.
  • Use a calming/coping strategy to keep your sanity in check and don’t get stressed.
  • Practice calming methods in different situations and controlled environments.
  • If you find yourself getting stressed, stop and compose yourself.
  • Chatting away to your dog can help with calming you both. When you’re out walking talk to your dog, and praise them for good behaviour even when it’s not something you have requested. This will also help with engagement and bonding. I get the strangest looks when I’m out with Tyler, I’m always nattering and have several times been asked whom I’m talking to!
Be confident, believe in yourself and your dog
With confidence and belief in yourself, you will be able to master the art of achieving goals with your dog.
  • Stay confident with what you are doing.
  • You know you can successfully get through any dramas.
  • Take things slowly, plan small steps at a time.
  • Do not apply pressure or judge yourself or your dog.
  • Reflect on previous achievements and remember how you reached them.
  • Don’t set unrealistic goals that will mean you don’t succeed.
  • The more you do something, the easier it will become and your confidence will improve.
  • If one idea doesn’t work, don’t panic, just try something else until you figure out what works for your dog.
  • Dogs are intelligent beings, consistency, patience and kindness will bring results.
Remind yourself of the positives
When a dog has issues to overcome, as a dedicated dog parent you are helping them to lead a better life.
  • This is a blip and it will come good.
  • Your dog has a billion positive qualities to outweigh any negatives.
  • The journey will have countless benefits for you both, throughout the process and on reaching your objective.
  • Remember how much you love your dog and why you are doing what you are doing.
Stay focussed
Choose your environments and timing carefully to ensure you are not side tracked – don’t go for traffic training 200 yards from a school at emptying time.
  • Don’t allow yourself to get distracted, concentrate purely on the matter at hand.
  • If at home and you want to do some training, it may be worth waiting until everyone else is out.
  • Don’t watch tele, listen to music, podcasts etc when out, all your attention should be on your dog.
  • Leave social media until you are finished.
  • Put your phone in your pocket and don’t be tempted to multi-task.
Develop your instinctive awareness skills
Building an innate awareness of your surroundings can be crucial in a number of settings. It is very easy to become complacent with your dog, you relax and let your guard down a little too much.
With fearful and reactive dogs I speak from experience and have had to drum into myself the importance of constantly remaining alert and responsive, ready to be one step ahead at all times. This doesn’t mean relaxing is out of the question, but there is a happy medium.
  • Knowing what’s going on around you will help you to think ahead and support your dog, avoiding any negative triggers that may be imminent.
  • Keep at it and over time it becomes easier with practice until it is second nature to you.
Act responsibly
See the bigger picture and think outside the box i.e. not everyone likes dogs and may not appreciate yours approaching them without an invitation.
  • Demonstrate common decency and etiquette when out or you have visitors.
  • Remember safety is important for you, your dog and those around you.
  • Ensure your actions are appropriate and do not make problems worse.
  • Gain knowledge regarding any dog problems you have. Make use of free resources and consult with professionals where necessary.