The most common mistake made by dog guardians is to assume their knowledge of the world on to the dog. The problem stems from an overfamiliarity of our environment knowing we are safe and so think the dog should know what we know. This assumption can be detrimental to the relationship if the dog does not fully understand you make the decisions relating to their needs.
We know the postman coming to the door is delivering mail, the dog on the other side of the street has no intention to come near us, the jogger is just jogging past, the vacuum cleaner is there to clean the floor, so we don’t get up and check the situation out.
The dog only has it’s guardian to look to for guidance when an unfamiliar and potentially dangerous situation presents itself. If at this moment the dog is fearful and we are not seen to act because we know the situation is not a problem. Then often the dog does not think we are doing anything about it. If a dog does not feel safe, it needs you the decision maker to be seen to be dealing with the problem. If you are not, they will have no choice but to do it themselves.
“A dog wants to feel safe or in control but will only give up control once they feel safe”
If a dog however sees the guardian acknowledging their concerns and dealing with the problem by using a convincing body language and a calm tonality each time no matter how trivial it appears to us, be it a leaflet coming through the door or a dog on the other side of the road, the dog will then assess our language, see that we acknowledge it and are doing something. In turn this will allow the dog to learn to trust the guardian in their role of protector and feel reassured of its environment.
In short, understand the world from your dog’s perspective. If your dog looks scared go and have a look or move away from the situation depending on the scenario. This is where a dialogue communication starts and demonstrates you understand their concerns and are providing for their needs, so they don’t have to do it themselves.