Shanti, a staffy rescue dog

My gorgeous Shanti dog

This beautiful girl is my rescue dog, who came rather unexpectedly into my life on Mother’s Day this year. We named her Shanti, which means Peace.

She has, where other dogs have been concerned, been anything but peaceful.

After an incident with another dog a couple of months ago, she became very aggressive with all other dogs, including those that she has previously sort of got on with.

A couple of these incidents have led to me getting hurt through trying to restrain her and almost failing.

I have been in quite a dilemma over whether I should keep her – she is a big dog, and if I can’t control her, then would I have to get rid of her. Fortunately, before I did anything drastic, I took my friend’s advice and contacted Petsitters Rct for their expert help.

After our first full training session yesterday, I have had quite a revelation. Not only about Shanti, but about the relationship between stress and fear, and myself!

It turns out that Shanti isn’t the problem. I AM!

Since the first incident, and, to some extent before that, I have been on edge as to how Shanti would respond to seeing other dogs, men and people on bikes. So I have always got anxious, with stress hormones racing through my body. My muscles tense and my grip on her lead tightens.

This sends a signal to her that there is something to fear nearby. She sees another dog, thinks I am scared of it, and reacts to protect me from it.

My fear that she will attack the dog makes her think that she needs to protect me, so she tries to attack.

A tense human at the end of a lead will result in a tense dog, and tense dogs know only one way to behave.

My thoughts, my fears, my stress have created this situation!

Isn’t it amazing how powerful our thoughts are? Now that I understand what is really happening with Shanti, I can manage far better. Our walk today was a far more relaxed affair. When we came to the place where there is a dog that usually drives her potty, we just calmly walked along, with no barks and no stress.

I had thought that there was a cruel irony in the fact that I named her Shanti, and she was the exact opposite of peaceful, but I was wrong. It is the perfect name for her, to remind me of this lesson! It is not possible to have peace, whether international, interpersonal or in yourself, where there is stress and fear.

And much of the stress, and the fear, is simply the result of misunderstanding, miscommunication and listening to the wrong stories about a situation. If we just breathe, relax, and look at what is really happening in a situation, rather than what we think is the problem, then sometimes the problem isn’t even really there in the first place!

I hope that you are feeling calm and peaceful today! If you’re not, take a few deep breaths, and see what thoughts are creating the stress. You may be surprised!

Have a great day

Esther

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