Energy is the language of life, but it’s one of the most neglected ingredients in dog training and behavior. Ignoring the energetic piece of the behavioral puzzle can mean more stress, strain, and struggle on both ends of the leash.
With most dog parents, the focus is usually on the physical, performance-based aspects of training (e.g. obedience and agility training), as well as what the body is doing (e.g. pulling on the leash, destructiveness, etc.). But to really understand behavior, we also have to pay attention to the dog’s state of mind and look at discrepancies in energy between the dog and the human. Let’s delve into what this means!
What Kinds of Energy Are There?
To understand energy better, let’s start with the dominant energy on the human end of the leash.
All humans possess both feminine and masculine energy, though one is usually more dominant than the other:
- Feminine energy involves nurturing, tenderness, allowing, ease, and flow.
- Feminine energy is soft.
- Masculine energy involves discipline, assertiveness, responsibility, boundaries, and protection.
- Masculine energy is strong.
The Human-Dog Relationship
When we bring a dog into our heart and home, we’re entering into a relationship with them. The nature of this relationship, as well as the type of attachment, shapes the dog’s:
- Social development
- Mental, emotional, and physical health and development
- Self and world perceptions
- Confidence, trust, and self-esteem
- Feelings of safety, security, and comfort
- Confidence in looking to you about how to act and feel
How Energy Impacts the Human-Dog Relationship
When it comes to dogs, they have either soft (feminine) or strong (masculine) energy. Dog-human relationships usually have different energetic pairings (discrepancies). If there’s an imbalance, it can lead to behavioral issues.
When a soft-energy dog is paired with a strong-energy human, the discrepancy can lead to the dog feeling overwhelmed, fearful, insecure, anxious, stressed, and confused. Moreover, the dog may develop low self-esteem, struggle with self and world perception, have poor performance in training, have poor coping skills, and experience avoidant, anxious, or disorganized attachments.
Conversely, if a strong-energy dog is paired with a soft-energy human, you’ll often see the same outcome on the human end of the leash. You can also add to the list: shame, frustration, and feeling sequestered to the home. This is due to the strong-energy dog coming in and completely taking over: making up their own rules, setting their own boundaries, and calling all the shots.
A Real-Life Example of Energy Compatibility
I had a client who was a soft-energy woman and adopted a very strong-energy dog. He became highly reactive on walks and would challenge anyone who came to the door (let alone enter the house). She went through many trainers, but his behavior only intensified. When they found their way to me, part of my approach was to incorporate more rules, boundaries, structure, leadership, and follow-through. The other part of my approach was quite unconventional, but incredibly effective. She had to embrace and fully embody these things to raise her level of relevance in the eyes of her strong-energy dog.
Fast forward and their relationship has drastically improved. The dog feels safer, more secure, and more comfortable looking to her for what to do and how to feel about life. He’s a far different dog now, and their relationship is stronger than ever.