Emotional contagion – where the prevailing emotion affects all those present – can occur among a group of people and between different species. Research studies have produced evidence of pupils experiencing a higher level of stress if they are around stressed teachers. Stress synchronisation, or mirroring of emotional states, also occurs between dogs and owners. The stressed owner can cause an increased in cortisol levels and this impacts the dog’s cognitive performance. But, rather than labelling the dog as being uncooperative and blaming them for your discomfort, you need to turn the tables and look at how you are behaving. Are your muscles tense? Is your heart racing? Are you stressed, angry or upset?
Sometimes we are so focused on meeting lesson objectives we don’t even realise that we are anxious and stressed. However, a degree of self-awareness will significantly help you when training your dog.
Source: Jane Ardern.