The other day I was taking a walk with my two dogs and went to a coffee shop to get a bag of beans. I’ve seen dogs in this coffee shop before so I knew it would probably be ok to take them in with me especially since I was just picking up a bag of beans. I walked in and saw two people being helped at the counter so I told my dogs to sit. Admittedly, they were sniffing curious and needed a little extra attention to get them to sit but they were calm and close to me. While I’m settling them, a gal at the counter said loudly “Actually, we don’t allow dogs in here.” in kind of a snarky tone. I have issues with both the overuse of the word “actually” and the context in which it’s used but that’s another story. So I was thinking that I’d take them outside and said “ok”. But then she followed with “But what did you want to get?”
Now I'm confused as to what the rules are. Should I take the dogs outside or is she going to help me with a purchase? “I just want a bag of beans.” I said. “Oh they’re right over there” she pointed to the shelf right next to me. I grabbed a bag and waited for a second. The people in front of me were still at the counter and I felt pressure to obey the first rule but there was no follow through. So now I was confused and experiencing some low level anxiety. I am the type to go by the rules, generally. It saves a lot of stress. I decided to take my dogs outside, but remembered I had their product in my hand so I set it down at the doorway and tied my dogs to the bike rack 5 feet away. A customer that was sitting near the door picked up the bag “Did you leave this?” she asked, as if I was up to no good. “Yes, I’m going to buy it after I tie up my dogs.“ I replied and I went back in, grabbed the bag and waited in line again. Finally, the people ahead were through and I walked up to that same gal at the register. “Is that it for ya?” She asked. “Yes” Just like I stated earlier. “Yeah, we used to allow dogs in here but we got busted so now we can’t” she said. “Well, that’s why I brought them in. They were allowed last time” I replied. I paid. I left.
The whole interaction took less than 10 minutes but left me feeling a little anxious and unbalanced. I assume she told me I couldn’t do something and then immediately felt bad about it so she changed her tune and tried to help me. But it didn’t help me because she wasn’t clear. Sure I got coffee, but I also got confusion. The whole coffee shop got confusion. Had she just told me to leave the dogs outside, I respectfully would have done so. Instead, I got flustered and behaved in a way that caused a stir in the environment.
This is what a lot of people are doing to their dogs every day. When you’re unclear with your communication, your dog gets confused. Confusion creates anxiety, anxiety can create a myriad of unwanted behaviors like pulling on the leash, chewing, digging, barking, whining, etc.
When you want your dog to do something, give clear body language and direction with a calm and assertive energy. Don’t feel bad about giving your dog direction as they will usually, happily do as you ask. Your dog lives to please you so show him what pleases you. If he’s not getting it, follow through and teach him what your direction means. Your dog wants a calm, happy owner and to be included in your life. When a dog has good leadership, he makes good choices. When he makes good choices, he gains more trust. When you have trust you can give freedom. Discipline is what successful people embrace. It’s not a bad thing. It keeps you on track and moving forward. People who are disciplined are productive and balanced. Your dog needs discipline as part of being fulfilled and balanced too. Set an intention and follow through with it. You'll feel a sense of empowerment and you both will be peacefully content together.