When things go south, our dogs look to us for guidance.
Every time a speeding truck zooms past, your dog is monitoring your reaction. Every time a stranger approaches the two of you, your dog looks to you to help them decide whether this person (or dog) can be trusted. Whether you realize it or not, you are role modeling for your dog.
So, what happens when drama erupts?
Maybe you’re walking your dog in the park and you spot a boisterous Great Dane heading towards you at full speed. How should you handle the situation? Should you frail your arms about in panic and disarray? Or, should you act calm and help settle your dog by showing them there’s nothing to worry about?
Surprises like this happen all the time and you need to be ready. After all, you are your dog’s leader. It’s up to YOU to be the calm role model that your dog needs you to be. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Inside the Brilliant Partners Academy, I teach something called the ‘Get Back to Grazing’ protocol to help you be a calm role model for your dog.
What is the ‘Get Back to Grazing’ Protocol?
Whenever our dog gets upset, over-aroused, or over-enthusiastic about something, it can be difficult to bring them back to a state of calmness. If the situation was particularly dramatic, you might even be the one having a mini meltdown or a reaction to a certain situation.
Maybe a kid flew past on their bike or another dog owner let their overly friendly dog get too close to yours and things went horribly wrong. Maybe your dog reacted to the trigger and now they’re freaking out and you’re having a hard time containing them. Sweat is beading on your forehead, your heart is beating twice as fast, and you’ve got a bunch of onlookers watching the drama unfold. You’re stressed, your dog is stressed, and neither of you knows what to do next.
This is where the Get Back to Grazing protocol comes into play. When something happens that knocks you out of balance, you tend to have an emotional surge of thoughts. But remember that when you’re upset, your dog is probably upset too.
“When we get off balance, our dog gets off balance.”
If you’re stressed out and mad at whoever (or whatever) triggered your dog’s reaction, your dog will pick up on your emotional turmoil. We are the ones that our dogs look to for answers. They look to us to figure out what we’re supposed to do next and how we are supposed to handle the situation.
If you remain in that state of emotional upheaval and upset, your dog will do the same because that’s what you’re guiding them to do.
We must ground ourselves and demonstrate calmness for our dogs. This is what I mean by the Get Back to Grazing protocol – we’ve got to show our dogs that there’s nothing to worry about. Whatever is going on is fine. It doesn’t affect us. We can go back to the walk, back to playing fetch, back to sniffing every tuft of grass. We can go back to grazing!
You implement this protocol with your own dog using some simple steps:
There are no failures, only opportunities to learn
When you want to defuse a situation when your dog is upset and you’re upset, you need to take a moment to regain your thoughts. Don’t let yourself immediately jump to the negatives.
Instead, remember that you’re both still learning how to navigate life together. It doesn’t have to be all sunshine and rainbows right away and it probably won’t be. Be mindful. Don’t let your thoughts run to the dark side right away. If you do that, you’ll start looping and doubt yourself as the trustworthy guide that your dog needs you to be.
“There’s no failures – there are only opportunities to learn.”
Physical movement can help defuse and reset
When your dog is going haywire, physical movement can help to defuse and reset the situation. After something dramatic happens, both you and your dog will experience an adrenaline rush. If you keep riding that high, you’ll both remain overly alert, on edge and anxious.
To help release all of that adrenaline and endorphins, get moving! Physical movement helps to defuse the situation while giving your dog the opportunity to reset.
Touch your dog
If your dog is too worked up and upset, it may be too soon to pet them. However, you know your dog well enough to know when the right time is to touch them. Petting your dog can help to soothe and relax them following a stressful situation.
Not only that but touching your dog helps to release some oxytocin, which again will help to calm things down.
Do a gratitude reset
This one is for you! When things aren’t going as well as you’d like, it’s time to do a gratitude reset. Think about things that you’re grateful for. Those positive thoughts will generate feelings of contentment and love within your heart which will help to regulate your thoughts. Your dog will also pick up on your good vibes and it’ll help them see that if you’re happy and relaxed, then they should be happy and relaxed too.
Smile and allow nature to do its magic
The final step is to smile and trust that nature is going to work its magic. You can use the Get Back to Grazing protocol anytime, anywhere.
“Connect with your dog, love your dog.”
We teach the full protocol in more detail inside the Brilliant Partners Academy, which is a membership coaching program with a strong community of dog moms who want to build a trusting, harmonious and deeply connected relationship with their dogs using the holistic, heart-to-heart partnership lifestyle framework.
You can listen to everything I talked about in this blog post over on my podcast – Enlightened By Dogs. It’s episode 95, which you can listen to here.
If you’d like to work with me and learn how to create a partnership lifestyle for you and your dog, you can request an invitation to join us in the Brilliant Partners Academy when the doors open for the next enrolment!
Watch a short video trailer of the episode below: