Are you and your dog resilient? Building resilience is so important to create a strong partnership with your dog. Yet, not many people talk about the power of resilience within the dog community. Being resilient gives you the ability to adapt quickly and come back stronger when things don’t go as planned. However, it’s important that both you and your dog are resilient, which you can work on together.
Resilient partners don’t give up when life gets hard. But, what does it mean to have resiliency? And, how can you and your dog build your resilience together?
In this post, I’m re-visiting some key lessons from inside my Brilliant Partners Academy about resiliency. You’ll discover why you need to be resilient if you want to build a strong, successful partnership with your dog. You’ll also learn how resilient partners never give up, even when life gets really tough.
So, let’s get into the sources of resiliency and how you and your dog can build a resilient partnership!
Create social support for your dog
One of the most vital steps to help your dog become more resilient is to make sure that you create and provide social support whenever it is needed. Dogs are socially intelligent beings. From your perspective as a dog mom, you can provide social support by being a good role model for your dog and a loving leader.
Some dogs feel socially supported by other dogs. A dog who loves being around other dogs will enjoy social meet-ups with other friendly dogs outside of the home. Of course, you also have dogs on the other side of the spectrum and feel supported and comforted by humans. Some dogs might even feel supported by both humans and dogs.
Dogs with low resilience often come from troubled backgrounds. They might be street dogs or experienced trauma in the past, which has left them with very low resilience. If your dog is like this, you’ll need to move slowly with them and be patient. They’ll need lots of space in their new environment and time to adjust to the routine. If you have a nervous dog, I suggest keeping stimuli low such as sights and sounds, especially in the early stages of bringing the dog home with you.
Create a sense of autonomy
Like us, our dogs need to feel that they have some form of control over their own life. You cannot take full control of your dog’s life, and you shouldn’t want to. Giving your dog choices is essential for a balanced mind.
Think of ways you can create opportunities to give your dog the freedom to choose. It could be as simple as choosing what they want to do. What toy do they want to play with today? What direction do they want to take on the walk? Obviously, you don’t have to agree with your dog’s choices all the time. If your dog wants to pull you into a swamp and chase the ducks, it’s okay to say no!
My point is that it is healthy for dogs to have a choice and a say in what happens to them. If your dog is outside sniffing the perimeter of the fence, give them a choice. Ask them if they want to come inside or stay out for a little longer.
Let your dog initiate things like cuddling, playtime, or general love and attention. Dogs are sentient beings, and they have needs, wants, and desires like the rest of us. By giving your dog choices and allowing them the chance to initiate things goes a long way towards building a brilliant partnership.
Of course, sometimes our dog’s needs, desires, and wants don’t align with ours. When that happens, you need to communicate that with your dog. You can even say, “sorry buddy, not right now,” etc.
Resilience comes from the inside. To build resilience, you need to maintain balance, and this includes mental, emotional, and physical balance. Getting outside with your dog helps to create that physical balance. Exploring nature and letting your dog have unstructured play is so important because it fuels mental and physical exercise.
If you ask me, there is nothing as healing and renewing as being connected to nature. Both you and your dog can build resilience out in nature, which helps to build the bond between you. Endorphins (otherwise known as the “happy hormone”) are released in the body whenever you exercise. Endorphins help reduce stress and restore physical and mental balance – not just for you, but also for your dog.
Building resilience takes time and patience. You can’t speed up time or try to manipulate how fast your dog’s resilience builds. You need to stay present and take baby steps.
How to build resilience
Whenever something unplanned happens and you and your dog struggle to bounce back from the experience, here’s what you can do to try and improve resilience:
- Remember that there are no failures, only opportunities to learn – don’t obsess over what happened. Instead, think about what you can learn from the experience.
- Remember to stay in the solution-seeking mindset. Use dialogue to communicate with your dog and listen to your dog. Do not ignore the tell-tale signs they’re trying to communicate with you!
- Physical movement helps to diffuse and reset. If you and your dog had an incident, get moving!
- Touch can help to calm your dog. Comfort your dog by petting them, hugging them, and letting them know that you are there for them.
- Do a gratitude reset. Don’t let your mind replay the scenario in your head or loop negative thoughts like a broken record. Think about three things that you are grateful for and focus on those things!
- Smile! Yes, just smile (or laugh) because life is too short to frown!
Sources of resiliency
The main resources of resiliency are the following:
- Early development
- The current environment
Obviously, there isn’t much you can do about your dog’s genetics or early development, unless you are present for those early days, weeks, and months. You can have the most effect on your dog’s current environment.
When you think about your dog’s environment, is it safe? Does it provide your dog with a sense of security and social support?
You can use the BPA core philosophies and methods to help build resilience for you and your dog. These include good communication, being a good leader, and using positive dialogue. You must make sure your dog feels like they belong, they are heard, and they are contributing to the family.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, remember to focus on building a heart connection with your dog. You are a keeper of the light, which means your dog needs you to be open-minded, resilient, and able to bounce back when life gets hard.
Click here to watch a trailer of the episode:
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!
You can listen to everything I talked about in this blog post over on my podcast – Enlightened By Dogs. It’s episode 128, which you can listen to here.