What My Reactive Dog Has Taught Me About Personal Growth

It was my sweet boy’s birthday yesterday!!
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Theo is three 🥺🐾 and I’ve learned SO much about working with reactive dogs in the last 8 months – and he’s taught me just as much about healing.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Here’s three personal growth lessons he’s taught me:
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1. We search for our fears in new situations.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Theo will always stay by windows in new places, our home, and our car, even though he gets triggered by people and dogs that walk by.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Logically, you’d think that if something was making him bark, he’d want to avoid it. But just him, you may tend to look for exactly what you *don’t* want in new situations as a way to confirm your fears as valid in the first place.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
2. Compassion always wins.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When Theo works himself up by barking, I have to remind myself that he’s just reacting out of his own fear. Instead of yelling “NO!” or “STOP THAT!!” I wait for a break in his barks and remind him that he’s a good boy.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I tell him that he’s safe, and that nothing will happen to him. I comfort him with pets and use a soft tone.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
He responds almost instantly, because compassion always wins.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Stop beating yourself up for feeling scared, weak, angry, unfulfilled, or for any of your bad habits. Offer yourself warmth, compassion, and understanding instead. It will change EVERYTHING.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
3. Communication is always key when working with your inner child.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Theo gets anxiety in new places, which is why we try to limit overwhelming him or changing things up too frequently.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But when it does happen, I explain to him where we’re going, what we’re doing, and why we have to do that. I speak to him like a lil toddler, and even though he’s anxious, he slowly understands and begins to calm down.

This is EXACTLY how we need to talk to our inner child. Patiently, lovingly, and with understanding. You need to show up for your inner child the way that adults around you never did.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: