Dancing Hearts Blog

How to Reframe Your “Difficult” Dog’s Behavior

How to reframe your “difficult” dog’s behavior


When we have negative thoughts about how our dog behaves, it often leads to trust leaks in our partnership. We definitely don’t want this.

But there are ways to turn your thinking around and reframe your dog’s behavior so that it doesn’t damage your bond. I truly believe we all have the capacity and capability to start unconditionally loving our difficult dogs, even when they are displaying challenging behaviors.

If your dog is displaying difficult behavior and not cooperating, it may make you feel like your dog is deliberately giving you a hard time. But the truth is, your dog is having a hard time!

Reframing your thoughts according to your dog’s personality type

One of the biggest misconceptions that cause these trust leaks is that every dog is alike, and the same training is effective for all dogs. So, when your dog is resisting or being uncooperative, it can lead to anxieties that there’s something wrong with you or your dog.

Recognizing that your dog has a unique personality is the first step to stop your partnership from leaking trust. When you have greater clarity and a deeper understanding of what your dog does, why they do it, and how they respond to you, it helps plant seeds of trust – and all it takes is a perspective shift.

Reframing how you think about your dog’s behavior can lead you to trust rather than leak it. The idea is to replace “negative thoughts” with partnership-building thoughts. So, I’m going to share some common thoughts you might have about your dog, based on their personality type, and give you an idea of how you can reframe these.


Quote: “Our dogs are having a hard time not giving us a hard time”


Fire-type personality, “The Magician”

Here are some pretty common thoughts you might have about your dog if they’re a fire personality-type:

  • Why can’t you just calm down?
  • Will you ever slow down and take things a little easier?
  • Can you just relax?
  • Why are you demanding attention all the time?
  • Can you stop barking?

You might get these a lot if your dog is imbalanced! So, how can you reframe your thinking? Well, let’s think about calming down. Instead, you could reframe this as “I love how filled with joy you are right now, and I think I’m going to join you!”.

If your dog is demanding attention, instead of getting stressed and feeling pressured by this, consider this as their way of communicating their feelings. Perhaps they feel lonely, and they’re trying to let you know that they want companionship.

As you start to think about your dog’s behaviors in this new way, you open up doors for connection – rather than close them.


Earth-type personality, “The Nurturer”

Some “negative” thoughts you may have about your Earth-type dog might sound like this:

  • Why are you so slow?
  • Hurry up, will you?
  • Why don’t you stand up for yourself?
  • Why are you so stubborn?

Earth-types have a very slow stimulus-response. They don’t get fussed about things and may choose not to do what we ask of them. It’s easy to fall into believing that your Earth-type dog is simply just stubborn! But if you reframe these thoughts, it can give you a new appreciation for their attitude.

If you’re finding your dog slow, try thinking about how steady and grounded they are instead. Earth-type dogs really know how to enjoy the moment and communicate how they feel about something. They’re not choosing to be “stubborn,” they’re stopping when something doesn’t feel right for them, and it’s up to you to honor and respect that.


Metal-type personality, “The Organizer”

If your dog has a metal personality type, you may have some thoughts such as:

  • Why won’t you snuggle with me?
  • Why are you so independent?
  • Can’t we do something different today without you freaking out?
  • Why do you have to try to boss everyone around?

Metal personality types need to analyze and keep things in order – even people and other dogs. This can be frustrating if you’re impulsive and your dog prefers routine. But consider this, your dog values their schedule and notices the smallest details in their environment. So, you can honor your dog’s personality by reframing this thought about doing something different as an appreciation for their attentiveness.

When it comes to snuggling, think about how your dog is confidently communicating that they prefer space right now. Respecting their choice at that moment could mean that they’ll come to you later when they are ready for affection.


“One of the misconceptions we have is that all dogs are alike and that the same training will be effective for all dogs.”


Water-type personality, “The Sage”

With water personality-types our “negative thoughts” may sound like:

  • Why can’t you trust me?
  • Why don’t you just take my word for it?
  • Are you ever going to accept that person or dog?
  • Can’t you do it because I asked you to?

Water-types need lots of convincing that a person or situation is safe, and it may feel like they don’t trust your choices for them. Let’s take a look at the thought, “why can’t you trust when I tell you something is fine?”. You can honor your dog’s agency by reframing this as something like, “I appreciate that you need to come to your own conclusions after some consideration.”

It’s also common to experience negative thoughts about your water-type dog’s perceived unwillingness to accept others. It’s possible to reframe this thought from a place of understanding. Recognize that your dog needs time to assess others before they build trust. Water-type dogs don’t respond well under pressure, so the more you can relax and let them process their feelings in their own time, the quicker it will be!


Wood-type personality, “The Explorer”

Some of the most common negative thoughts about wood personality-type dogs are:

  • Why can’t you just relax?
  • Why are you so impatient and bossy?
  • How hard is it to tolerate that person or dog?
  • Will you ever forgive me?

Explorer, wood-type dogs, are often strong and reactive. They’re driven, competitive, and want to take charge. Often, this personality is misunderstood as impatient and intolerant, especially when they’re imbalanced. In this situation, we can reframe these thoughts through understanding. Perhaps your dog is feeling stressed, and you’re expecting more from them than they can give right now. When you think about it this way, you make space for trust and communication.

The last question, “will you ever forgive me,” is one that you might not say out loud but may cross your mind if you have a wood-type dog because they can often trigger us to behave in ways that are not who we want to be…

Instead, consider reframing this thought as, “I know that we’ll forgive one another when we remember how strong our love is.” If you can open that door to deeper trust, then you can turn things around and build on your partnership foundation.


“What we want to do is to shift our perspective with intention and reframe that ‘negative thought’ into a trust and partnership building thought instead.”


Reframing your thoughts about your dog’s behavior

I want to share some journal prompts that you can use to reframe your dog’s behavior.

  1. The first is: What is your old thought about your dog’s behavior? You can write down several and then pick one thought to work with.
  2. The second is: What is your new reframed thought? Take your old thought and shape it into a new, reframed one.
  3. The third is: Contemplate your insights about better understanding your dog’s behavior. Think about what this means for you and how this might change the things that you do together with your dog.

Let me know your insights about your dog, their personality types, and how you’re reframing your thoughts! As always, I love to hear from you. I may not be able to respond to every email, message, comment or post, because there’s a lot of them, but I love reading them and I love to read as many as I can.


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 enrollment!

You can listen to everything I talked about in this blog post over on my podcast – Enlightened By Dogs. It’s episode 150, which you can listen to here.

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