I know, I know, when you clicked on this post, you must have been thinking what on Earth does a frog have to do with dog training?
Well, dear readers, if you continue reading on all shall be revealed, as today I’m going to talking about a subject I don’t think is covered enough in the dog training world.
So, why the frog?
There is a fable, often mistaken for truth, that if you put a frog in boiling water it will immediately try to hop out but if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and slowly bring it to the boil, the frog will not perceive the danger and allow itself to be boiled to death.
What I like about this fable is how you can use it as an analogy when it comes to stress. It isn’t just the obviously stressful things in life we need to watch out for but for the subtle things that stress us out bit by bit until we are suddenly overwhelmed. Hell, some things we do not even recognise as being stressful, but they still effect our body the same. There are two types of stress; distress and eustress. Distress are all the horrid things that make us feel anxious and upset. Eustress on the other hand, is 'good' stress, like competing in a game, enjoying a concert or finally seeing a family again after so long.
Stress can be sneaky, and if you haven't noticed it creeping up, like the poor frog oblivious to the change in temperature, you will fast become chronically stressed. Chronic stress has a whole host of problems related to it, including immune response suppression, heart issues, depression and anxiety. How stress effects us is also how it effects our dogs. They might become prone to reacting more 'out of nowhere', have gut problems like IBS and runny poos or mentally shut down.
So, being mindful of all the things that can stress a dog out means we are monitoring the temperature of the pot and can see when it starts to rise. As the stress increases we can prevent it from boiling over and our dog having a negative reaction by calming them down or taking them out of the situation or have a quiet day to let the temperature drop back down.
I want you to write down what stressors are in your dog’s life, they can be negative things that cause distress, like something that spooks them. Or they can be positive things that cause eustress, like a favourite person coming to visit the house.
If you can keep aware of these subtle and non subtle stressors, you can better help your dog from being sat unaware in a pot that is about to boil.