Optimism is an important quality in people and dogs alike.
Take last night for example, I arrived at Woof2019 (The National Behaviour Conference in Nottingham) for the pre conference get together & registration, my friend Jean decided she was too tired and stayed at her hotel so she would be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the morning and I couldn’t find Tamsin anywhere.
Always optimistic that I will find someone to talk to I went in on my own to register and mingle.
After a potter round I sat on my own like a billy no mates to look through my goodie bag and a nice lady beckoned me over to join the crowd she was sitting with, which was very lovely of her. Once sat down and chatting I realised that the crowd of people I was now drinking with were all speakers at the conference (the name tags round their necks gave it away).
I had a very enjoyable couple of hours sat with amazing people, all experts in their fields including Dr Lore Haug DVM (the nice lady who called me over), Dr Julie Vargas Ph.D (B.F Skinner’s daughter), Eduardo J Fernandez Ph.D, Steve White, Joe Layng Ph.D . Ilkka Hormila, Kay Lawrence & Ken McCort.
I felt very privileged to be invited to join them and had a lovely evening and it was a great start to the conference.
Had I been a pessimist I would have stayed in my hotel room with my book and bottle of wine – and not had nearly as much fun.
Building optimism in your dog is hugely important.
When presented with something your dog hasn’t seen before or slightly unusual, does your dog respond positively, presuming it to be a good thing (optimism), or does he respond negatively, presuming it to be a bad thing (pessimism)?
An optimistic dog is not reactive, he is confident and a great learner. If your dog is reactive he is seeing something and expecting it to be a bad thing, (sometimes it is based on a previous bad previous experience but not always). If you have a reactive dog (by reactive I mean barking, lunging, growling at stuff like people, other dogs or even wheelie bins) then building his confidence and if necessary changing his associations with training I can help with, along with lots of positive training will make a huge difference to their life and they can start to enjoy being out and about. This will also make walks so more enjoyable for you too as rather than making you anxious, worried, frustrated and even embarrassed by your dog’s behaviour. you can relax and enjoy the company of your dog.
Having an optimistic dog affects all aspects of training your dog, as researchers at The University of Sydney in Australia discovered. “Pessimistic dogs appeared to be much more stressed by failing a task than optimistic dogs,” Dr. Starling said in the statement.”They would whine and pace and avoid repeating the task while the optimistic dogs would appear unfazed and continue.”
An optimistic dog will keep trying because they think something good will ultimately happen, they will also try new things and be more confident in new situations.