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What your stress level does to your dog

Sonja Vargas Entspannter Spaziergang mit Hund in den Bergen


Do you know the feeling of getting up in the morning and already feel stressed when you think of all the tasks you have to do that day? Then you feel like you're running from A to B and are glad when you finally finish your dog walk in the evening. You briefly wonder about the increased number of unrelaxed dog encounters. But you don't really have the energy to think about it. Maybe it was just a stressful day. You go to bed exhausted and already thinking about the to-do's of the next day.

Your stress level has a big influence on the behavior of your furry friend.
If you are more relaxed, it will also be transmitted to your dog!

In this article you will learn how you can become more mindful and thus more relaxed in everyday life. What this has to do with your dog. And how you can avoid falling into bed completely exhausted in the evening. Instead, you will think back with joy to the beautiful moments of the day.


What does mindfulness mean?

"Being mindful" means being in the present, in the here and now.

Not thinking about the past or the future, but consciously perceiving the moment without judging it.

So when you consciously experience the here and now, you cannot be stuck in thoughts about the past or the future at the same time. Thus, you react more relaxed to challenging situations in everyday life.


The autopilot

Have you ever found yourself unable to remember how you got from A to B?

It's because you were in the "autopilot mode" and deep in thought you couldn't perceive that very moment.


Often our brain is continuously busy with many thoughts.

This is also completely normal, because it is programmed to react to situations and to learn from previous experiences in order to be able to apply them in the future. In the past, this also made a lot of sense in order to be able to react to dangers as quickly as possible. Today, however, we no longer have to hunt for our food and our dangers are no longer predators.
Rather, our days are characterised by hectic and sensory overload in everyday life.
It is also often negative rather than positive thoughts that occupy us throughout the day and we hardly notice what is happening around us.

You are missing out on the beautiful.

Above all, you can't really perceive the beautiful and positive moments being on autopilot.


The good news are:

You can train your brain to get out of autopilot and back into the here and now. It helps you to experience the beautiful moments of the day more consciously.


And what do you get out of it?

When you consciously perceive your everyday life, you automatically slow down, which relaxes you.
You become calmer inside and out.
You use less energy for the same tasks.
It gives you a higher level of self-confidence and self-acceptance.
You develop more compassion for yourself and others at the same time.
You can cope better with stress.


It also allows you to consciously experience the beautiful moments. This can be, for example, a smile from another dog owner on the dog walk. Or a beautiful flower on your dog walk that you have been walking past, lost in thought. Wouldn't you like to go through your everyday life more relaxed and mindful again?
Do you want to consciously notice and enjoy the beautiful moments?


Interaction between you and your dog

Our furry friends are constantly watching us when they are around us. So you can imagine, that they notice immediately when you feel stressed. Unconsciously, you tense your muscles or stop breathing easily and deeply. It's only much later that you notice that your shoulders or jaw hurt.
Of course, your dog notices this directly.


Let me show you this in more detail with an example from everyday life.

Tensed dog encounter

You know what it's like: even before a probably not so pleasant dog encounter, you worry about how it will go. To be on the safe side, you take your dog on a shorter leash or call him to you to put him on a leash? The tension you feel before the encounter is transferred to your furry friend, who then encounters the other dog with greater caution and tension. This can often be one of the reasons why dog encounters are not relaxed and friendly.


What can help now?

  • Observe yourself before and in such encounters.
  • Breathe in and out slowly and deeply. This activates the calm pole of your nervous system (the parasympathetic nervous system).
  • Walk upright. Let your arms hang loosely on your body.
  • Walk with your dog in a wide bow past the other dog without restricting your pet further with a shortened leash.


And please do not pull or jerk on the leash. Your dog's cervical spine is very sensitive and could be injured. In addition, the jerk only increases your dog's tension and brings more aggression into the situation. You should avoid this at all costs!


So relaxation is transferred from you to your dog - and vice versa.
The more relaxed you both are, the easier previously challenging situations, such as daily dog encounters, become.


More relaxation and mindfulness exercises for you and your dog can be found here.

Are you faced with daily challenging situations with your four-legged friend and have the feeling that you can't manage it alone (any more)?
Your greatest wish is to be able to spend your everyday life with your four-legged friend in a more relaxed and enjoyable way?
I am happy to support you. In a preliminary talk we get to know each other and discuss which of my offers best suits your situation.

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