What My Reactive Dog Has Taught Me About Personal Growth

It was my sweet boy’s birthday yesterday!!
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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.
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Here’s three personal growth lessons he’s taught me:
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1. We search for our fears in new situations.
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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.
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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.
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2. Compassion always wins.
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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.
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I tell him that he’s safe, and that nothing will happen to him. I comfort him with pets and use a soft tone.
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He responds almost instantly, because compassion always wins.
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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.
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3. Communication is always key when working with your inner child.
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Theo gets anxiety in new places, which is why we try to limit overwhelming him or changing things up too frequently.
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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.

Published by Roshni

My name is Roshni. I am a Kenyan-born, American-raised, Indian woman. I studied education, psychology, and psychoanalysis in college and have been prioritizing healing in my recent years of post-grad life. I am passionate about breaking down mental health stigmas, especially in communities of color. My personal struggle with anxiety, depression, and panic disorder has led me to share my thoughts, experiences, and helpful exercises with you. I am here to share exercises for growth, insights into my own journey of mental health, and ways to stay productive and efficient without sacrificing your sanity - or your inner child! - Join me on this journey (Subscribing to Beti Grew Up, my YT channel & by following my Instagram @BetiGrewUp), - Share your story with me (by emailing me betigrewup@gmail.com) xoxo, Roshni

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