Learning How To Be Assertive From A Dog That Barks!

I don't know about you , but when I hear the word assertive I cringe a little bit. It's something I aspire to, and yet, also something I have a weird association with.

To get an idea of the "assertive" I want to talk about here I am going to define it as-

"Creating clear and distinct boundaries understood between opposite parties that are consistent, fair, and without emotion. "

You are more than welcome to point out anything you would like to add or subtract to this definition, but this is how I see the word.

Google dictionary however, defines it as-

"Having or showing a confident and forceful personality."

The latter feels pretty icky to me, but I think it's also something I have come to associate this word with since it does make me cringe a little ( I guess it's the word forceful in that definition)

However you see this word, my intention is to speak of it in terms of my own definition as it applies to animals and training.

So how did my dog teach me more about this word?

As the owner of a loud mouth (a very cute loud mouth barky cattle dog....haha) I have done a lot of training to help my dog regulate his emotional state since barking is something he typically does when he is in a state of eustress or distress (happy or not so happy stress).

The less stressed he is (in a happy or not happy way) the less he barks-

so I have worked tons with him on slowly helping him through situations at his own pace to help him learn how to cope with stress, and how to let go of stress and frustration.

There is a lot you can pick apart when an animal is stressed.

For example, a dog who is dog reactive may already be starting to go into fight or flight when they hear the jingle of a collar. Breaking these situations apart can really help your dog understand each part of a situation and feel more relaxed through it.

The same is absolutely true for myself, and hopefully some of you out there to!

However, in any kind of animal training people have this idea of a perfectly trained animal, or a "finished" animal. This has always been odd terminology for me since training lasts for life and our animals are not machines we can program and forget about.