What exactly is calm assertive energy? How do you stay in that state at all times? What’s more important, the calm part or the assertive part? These are a few of the many questions that I get asked all the time when working with dogs.
Calm assertive energy is the most balanced energy and only energy that dogs will follow. Dogs will not listen to or follow frustration, anger, fear, insecurity, weakness, excitement or anxiety amongst other energies and emotions that I label as unbalanced.
One of the most common things I see during training sessions are owners who exhibit one or more of the above unbalanced energies and emotions resulting in a dog that doesn’t have a pack leader to follow and often results in unwanted behaviors.
I can’t tell you how many times the behavior of a dog instantly changes once I take the leash from the owner or once I address the dog instead of the owner. What’s different? My energy! I’m not emotional about my approach like many owners are, I’m instinctual which is what the dog understands. Whether the dog is fearful, aggressive, unsure, dominant, nervous, anxious, etc. my state of mind does not change. Now that’s not to stay that I don’t adjust my level of calmness and assertiveness depending on the behavior and sensitivity of the dog. For example, recently I dealt with a dominant shepard mix with a bite history on both humans and dogs who wasn’t sensitive at all. There I stayed at a normal level of calmness but had to be at a pretty high level of assertiveness. A few days ago I dealt with a 95 lbs. pit bull who was fearful and extremely sensitive. In that case I had to take a deep breath and get as calm as possible while also bringing my assertive level as low as possible so I could help her.
How do I stay in that state? A lot of practice and repetitions. Just like anything else, it’s a process. Don’t give up if you start feeling those unbalanced emotions and energies. They’re going to happen but the key is to learn how to become aware of them and then grab control of them.
The bottom line? No matter what your dog throws at you, stay calm and assertive! Remove all of those unbalanced emotions and energies and give your dog the balanced energy that they need. Be honest with yourself. If you are starting to feel those unbalanced emotions, pause, take a deep breath, re-balance yourself and then continue.
Remember, humans are the only species on earth that will follow and unbalanced leader! Are you projecting calm assertive energy and being the balanced pack leader your dog needs? If not, the good news is dogs don’t live in the past or future so there’s no better time to start projecting calm assertive energy than today!