Advice Blog

Emotional Regulation & Perceived Love

Posted on January 26, 2015 at 1:05 PM

Emotional regulation is the ability to focus attention to a task and the ability to supress inappropriate behaviour or emotional responses. It involves initiating, inhibiting, or modulating your mental state or behaviour in a situation. Emotional regulation is a highly significant function in human life.

Ok, so you may be wondering what does this have to do with dogs. It has everything to do with a human’s ability to clearly reflect, control, compose themselves and think rationally. It is imperative if we want to truly help a dog we must be able to do this first so our communication and judgement is not clouded by emotion but defined by the rationality.

Separation Anxiety is often one of the toughest things for dog owners to overcome. Often owners describe their dog as they love me or people. It is clear at this point in our need as humans to be emotional by perceiving love. If we are regulating our emotions and thinking about this rationally we have a dog with an unhealthy and irrational dependency nothing to do with love. The answer is not love it is structure, control, hard work, consistency, correctly timed interaction and rewards.

Love is one the most common phrases I hear from dog owners. My dog loves other dogs, my dog loves food, my dog loves people etc. In each case I bump my emotional translator on which equates to the dog is excited by dogs, food and people. The dog is likely to have an on sight reaction or predetermined energy release to each of these. If the dog cannot release its energy by getting closer you can start to see the dog stressed by these things we presume he loves. By always allowing the dog to move forward or obtain the reward on its own impulse we lose a reward that we could have controlled and harnessed.

Some dogs are stressed and do not have any preconceived happiness with people or other dogs. Often rescues dogs have attached stories which pull further into your heart strings, bringing out sympathy and feeling sorry for the dog. This often causes new owners to over compensate when introducing the dog to their new life, people, dogs and house. Becoming subject to their emotions some owners can even use this to excuse dangerous behaviour. These dogs need empathy and help not our sympathetic emotions.

If we are uncontrolled emotionally as owners we only reduce our dog’s potential in having a healthy, safe and better quality of life. Any stressed dog needs rational course of action over an emotional reaction.

The love I have for my dogs comes from my connection with them, seeing them blossom and fulfilling their potential. We are human, we are emotional but we can be intelligent with our emotions.

Derek Bryson

Paws for Walkies


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