Like us, dogs have Coping Strategies. And like us, they either cope by doing something about it or by avoiding it.
What about your dog?
When your dog is upset, does he jump, lunge, bark, run, pace, spin, or even walk away? Maybe he tears at the grass or sniffs his privates. If you answered yes, your dog is an Active Coper. While the behavior he chooses may annoy you, it works for him, and the good news is change is often easy for him even if it doesn’t seem like it now. But that’s not the focus of this blogpost.
Does your dog tend to shut down around things that bother her? Maybe she hides at the first rumble of a storm, or slinks off when guests arrive. Maybe she lies down and stares off into space, or trembles with her head down, looking at nothing much of the time. She’s a Passive Coper. She’s quiet, nearly invisible, but it’s not a healthy coping strategy.
Passive Copers aren’t processing the stress hormones in their blood. She’s swimming in stress. Shutting down doesn’t make her feel better. She’s stuck, but don’t’ lose hope. She just needs your help to change.
Here’s the important part. We won’t ask her to do anything when she’s off hiding in her corner. We can’t reach her in that state, but we can help prepare her for the next time, and there will be a next time. That’s just life. This is a key difference between RosyDogs and other trainers.
We train for the situation, not in the situation.
At first, all we do is ask her to do is Something. Anything. Even tiny Movement Counts at this point. Just as importantly, she earns zero reward for doing nothing. We have the bigger brain and we know that she needs to Move!
Movement for dogs who shut down at the slightest indication of stress or change may not look like much to us, but for these dogs any movement is monumental. It might be as simple as chomping down on a Kong away from her corner or following you across the room. The trick is to actively help these dogs when they are feeling ok. RosyDogs has lots of Games designed to get her Moving. With the right GamePlan, real life solutions take root in 3 weeks.
For most dogs, it looks something like this.
I have a confession to make. I love helping these dogs, the ones who hide in the corner trembling. There’s something about their energy that blends perfectly with mine. If you have a shut-down dog trembling under the bed, please reach out. I can help you both find peace.
Rebecca Porter has been fascinated by dogs for decades, but it took a frantic mixed breed to send her on a journey into innovative and real life solutions in dog training.