Check Your Vibe:
How Your Energy and Body Language Affects Your Dog
Have you ever noticed the minute you walk in the door your spouse or partner can tell you had a crappy day at work? Can you sense when your Ride Or Die BFF is feeling stressed, anxious or angry — even if she or he doesn’t say a word? We all pick up on subtle unspoken changes in body language — ones we aren’t even consciously aware of and we “sense” something is wrong. It’s a pretty cool superpower; but guess what, your dog is even better at this than you are!
How your energy & body language affects your dog
Dogs primarily interpret the world through two senses — their eyes and their noses.
With their eyes, they are reading and interpreting visual changes in their environment. For dogs, body language is incredibly important. They communicate with each other, with the world around them and yes, even with us, through their body language.
This means they are extremely good at interpreting your body language immediately. Very skilled. Much better than you or me. If you had, or are having, a bad day your body language changes and will give you away every time.
While people may miss (or ignore) your non-verbal communication, your dog will not. He’ll know immediately something is different or wrong. Forget your poker face because you will never beat your dog at this game!
Then there’s the olfactory system, a dog’s nose. A dog’s sense of smell is the second most important way he understands and interprets the world.
It’s not an urban legend that a dog’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours; it’s estimated to be 100,000+ times stronger than humans! Why is this important?
Did you know your emotions: anger, fear, sadness and stress, among others cause changes in the levels of cortisol, adrenaline, glucose and other hormones in your body? Your dog can smell these, often even before you are aware of changes in your own emotional state.
I don’t care how close you are to your Ride Or Die, I promise she or he can’t smell an increase in cortisol when you’re frustrated with your boss! But your dog can.
When you come home, your dog picks up on your vibe by reading changes in your body language and smelling changes in your hormone levels and tries to make sense of it. Your dog reads your mood immediately and reacts.
- If you come home happy, your dog reads and smells that and responds with happiness, too.
- If you come home sad, dogs will usually react one of two ways:While some dogs will read and smell that you are sad and will come to you, check in and try to make you feel better, others may begin to protect you or the house. If you come home stressed or anxious, you dog will pick up on it and will begin to feel stressed and anxious too. And if you come home angry? Yup, your dog will know that immediately and will react accordingly.
The way your dog reacts to you and your negative vibe can lead to behavioral problems with aggression and fear sitting at the top of that list of unwanted behaviors.
If you then get frustrated or angry because of your dog’s behavior, it becomes a negative feedback cycle, where your dog reacts to your anger or frustration about his behavior that was caused by the anger, fear or frustration you brought into the home in the first place!
How do you get off this merry-go-round, or better yet, never get on it to begin with?
The answer is simple, but it does take practice. The best way to prevent bringing a negative vibe into your home and avoid that negative feedback cycle is to check your vibe before you come in the door!
There are many ways to achieve this, but it does take practice. Figure out what works best for you and build that into your routine before you and your crappy mood come home!
You want your home to be a safe and sacred place- for your own well being as well as your dogs. All dogs- and people-deserve a safe, happy home in the world!