The Emotional Bucket
When we as humans wake up, some days we just might not be feeling it. Our Dogs are the same, but we don't always consider this.
Because the media presents dog body language so crudely, it becomes a part of the human brain to unconsciously think of our dog overly happy and boisterous, sad or guilty. Another blog on guilt another time.
There could have been an incident the night before such as fireworks, a bang, an argument a child crossing boundaries, pain or unwellness that begins your dogs day as low.
We consider our dog to have a metaphorical bucket, so if your dog wakes up feeling rubbish consider a cup of water filling your dogs bucket.
So dogs are really good at hiding pain and unwellness and can be good at hiding negative emotions.
So unknowingly the bucket has already begun to fill and we walk the dog, a HGV blares the horn right next to your dog, a cup fills the bucket. A dog is charging up and down behind their fence, growling, barking and yanking on the fence, another cup fills the bucket. Another dog with no manners comes and barrel rolls your dog, another cup fills the bucket.
As your walking home your dog barks at other dogs, pulls after a vehicle, stops and refuses to walk any further observing another dog.
Your embarrassed, mildly annoyed and scolding of their behaviour. Your dogs bucket is spilling over and they are super stressed, you may have heard this in another term, trigger stacked.
So most humans will then proceed to walk the dog, two more times that day or the next day and the dog now is really struggling and vocalising on their walk, the human embarrassed further.
It doesn't matter what TV says, or John's uncle's, cousin's friend's girlfriend who claimed to be an ex police dog handler says.
We don't walk the dog. Stop the guilt or worrying about the neighbours calling the Rspca because you're giving your dog the canine equivalent of self care.
Instead give your dog decompression time, give them enrichment, play with them, let them feel safe in their home with no pressure.
Decompression empties the bucket and allows our Dogs brain to rest and reset.
Lickimats are well known to soothe anxiety.
When you have allowed them to decompress and are ready for your next walk consider sniffy walks otherwise known as sniffafaris, let them chill on a walk and advocate for them to others.
Ask other people to keep their dog on a lead, if someone makes a negative or unsolicited comment, flip them off or if you have the spoons explain your dog is simply being a dog and needs space.
You don't need other people who aren't qualified, making you feel bad about your dog. Your dog is awesome!
If you want to understand further and geek out, fill your bucket (pardon the pun)!
Image description: the title reads: The Emotional Bucket, written and illustrated by Tasha Attwood of Miyagis Dog Training and Behaviourist Services.
The first window has a pink and purple gradient background, with a wooden window and yellow curtains at night with fireworks going off. A Wolfdog is thinking expletives due to the fireworks, there is a bucket in the right hand corner beginning to fill. The text box says "As soon as a Dog wakes up their bucket could already be filling
This Can be due to pain, a negative experience the night before or just generally feeling low how we do!"
The second top window on the right has a brown fence with a dog barking and growling behind it. There is a bucket filling with more water, there are two text boxes. One reads" As the bucket fills our dogs begin to feel worse, this is why they react at triggers such as dogs, traffic, people etc
They are struggling to process the environment and their brain has entered into fight or flight mode. If they cannot escape the situation it is flight or shut down!"
The second text box reads" If we don't realise our Dogs bucket is filling, take them for a walk and there is an incident such as a dog barking at them the bucket fills."
The third bottom left window has a blue background, a red hgv and a bucket over spilling, with three text boxes reading:" Your dog isn't trying to embarrass you, give you a hard time or be difficult. They are having a hard time, their brain is in overdrive."
"Once the Dogs bucket over fills it becomes very hard for them to come back down.
Unless they are allowed to decompress they remain in a perpetual state of stress."
"If your dog has a bad walk, a limp, sickness, experiences fireworks, an attack etc we don't walk them again for three days
Instead allowing them to sleep and only doing enrichment to soothe their anxiety and allow the brain to repair itself."
In the last right bottom window, it is a grey background with an empty upturned bucket, with OMG written underneath, a lower arm and hand holding a phone to a text box, a Wolfdog upside down on a green rug by an orange sofa chewing a Kong and a pink cloud reading Boom!
The four text boxes read: "If you take one thing from this... It is to remove the guilt. The guilt and ideology you must walk your dog daily. This is doing your dog more harm after a trauma."
"Ditch the walk, give them enrichment.
Trust the professionals not the tv."
"Dogs need and love decompression
Their Brain Relies on decompression
A part of their survival system."
"3 days rest,
To Sleep and enjoy safety of no triggers or frights."