POWER SAPPERS: Part II – Emotional Extremes

by Camilla Gray-Nelson


Have you ever been so frustrated with your dog that you yell at him? It’s what most people do when they are at a loss on how to control, command or even just get their dog’s attention. When your dog fails to respond, your anger and frustration escalate. Finally, you give up and walk away. Read on to learn the keys to becoming a leader.

Frustration and Anger

The reason anger and frustration fail to control a dog is that anger and frustration signal to your dog (and to others) that you have lost control.  This type of emotional extreme destroys your power base and puts you at a vulnerable, weakened position when it comes to negotiations of any sort, whether these are negotiations with business contacts, or with your dog (!)  In dog training, you can pretty much forget about getting your dog to obey when you yell.  Animals, in particular, are acutely aware of the signals that convey relative power or weakness, because their very survival depends on their ability to recognize these signals.  Even if you don’t yell, but your voice belies an inner frustration, you telegraph that you have lost your confidence, your nerve, and your power – and your dog will most likely not obey you, because dogs only follow confident leaders.

Remember – obedience is about who has POWER, and clearly you don’t have any if you’re frustrated and let it show.

Smothering Love

At the other end of the emotional spectrum is excessive, smothering love.  This is not as common a problem for dog owners as frustration and anger, but it does bear mentioning.

Don’t get me wrong – I like hugging and kissing my dogs as much as the next person, but some dog owners take it to the extreme, smothering their dogs with excessive displays of affection, with continual holding, hugging, kissing, etc.  When normal love and affection morph into this extreme form, the dog begins to see himself as superior to his fawning owner.  Smothering love can send a message of subordination, not love. Take a lesson from the successful kindergarten teacher  – or parent for that matter.  They do not fawn over their children; they keep love and discipline in perfect balance.  Nature loves balance, and so does your dog.

Beware of these two Power-Sappers:  Anger and Smothering Love.


About Camilla Gray-Nelson

When I started training dogs professionally, it was women who sought out my help. Responsibility for the family dog typically falls to them, after all. Their homes were in chaos; they were yelling at their dogs – and their kids – and couldn’t control either one. The life skills of personal power that I learned as a child (and assumed everyone else had, too), turned out to be rare among my clients. Since that time, it has been my personal goal to share Nature’s message of quiet power with women (and men) everywhere to help them become more effective not only with their dogs, but in their greater lives as well.

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