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Old 08-15-2013, 10:38 AM
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Default When dogs feed of handler's emotions

I don't know if there's a word for it, but you know how dogs can feed off their owners anxiety and become anxious? (This is sort of spurned by a topic on PSD and how they have to not be influenced by their human's panic attack, etc)

Is how "influenced" a dog gets varied among individual dogs, or entire breeds, or entire types? Are certain breeds more likely not to be influenced by their handler's feelings? Or are you better off just guaging individual dogs?
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:48 AM
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I would imagine all of those influence it.

For example herding breeds seem prone to being more twitchy and sensitive so I would be surprised if they weren't more prone to it. But then within that I'm sure you'll find that maybe some of the harder breeds are less effected, followed by sex and personality.

I also imagine that a lot of the more handler sensitive Molosser feed easily off of people while at the same time some of the Northern/Spitz breeds couldn't care less what you're thinking or feeling.

I think just a ton of factors would come into it and while you could probably get an idea of what type of dog might be more prone to it it will still come down to individual dog.

With my own dogs I notice Traveler much more in tune with what I'm feeling, thinking, and doing. Didgie might notice but she cares way less.
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:07 AM
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I was sort of wondering about Spitz breeds because many of them maintain a sense of independence and were meant to work independent of their handlers.

Your thing about Traveler and Didgie brings up another point because in quite a few spitz breeds males tend to stay closer to their handler and are more handler focused than females (this could be true of many breeds though- it's just that most of my knowledge is on spitz).
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:13 AM
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I've heard many times that your emotions travel down the leash like a telegraph and it's something I believe whole heartedly.

I know that many handlers chew gum because they believe that dogs can smell the nervousness in their breaths.

ETA- I don't know much about spitzes and males vs females.

I know several keeshonden very well and they can be VERY stubborn, although they are beautiful dogs. Some are also somewhat handler sharp, but I don't know if it's just the one breeder I know and maybe it's just their dogs that are that way.
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:48 PM
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I'm sure it varies between breeds and between individuals within breeds.

Elsie is VERY sensitive to my moods. If I'm upset, we can't train. She can't handle it. Zoey is a lot more independent. She doesn't care as much how her person is feeling, unless they're happy. If they're happy, she's overjoyed.

Zobby, who's a different breed, cares when his person is upset only as far as it directly affects him; I'm certain that if he weren't abused as a puppy, he wouldn't care if people were mad. As it stands, if you're out with him and get mad, he doesn't care. In the home, he hides.
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:30 PM
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I think breed and type can play a big role, but so do individual dogs.

If I'm upset, I try to stay away from my Dobermans. They are ultra sensitive. Last week I was having a really bad night, and I wasn't even angry or anything, but both Keira and Ripley were trembling and worried. And if I'm training with them, I have to be careful of my emotions then too. If I'm frustrated, I know we aren't going to get anywhere. They're too sensitive to emotion around them. I'd say while my dogs seem a little extreme this way sometimes, most of the Dobermans I know are super sensitive and intune to their person's emotional state. More so than other dogs it seems. So in this case, I'd say it's a breed thing to be almost hyper aware of handler emotion.

Herding breeds are another general type that seem often sensitive to their person's emotions. Journey isn't as extreme as the Dobermans, but she does act differently (quieter, calmer, sucky) depending on how I'm feeling and is very aware of whether I'm happy/sad/frustrated/etc. My Border Collie mix was similar.

Dance is somewhat sensitive to my emotions as most dogs would be, but not overly. Unless it's in direct relation to her, she can be pretty oblivious, which is sometimes nice. They only thing I have to watch with her is that if I'm stressed, she's probably going to feel a bit off and those are the days she's horrible with her people-barking. But otherwise she is very resilient and most times couldn't seem to care less about what I'm feeling. The other Toller I had for a while though was super, super sensitive. Kind of like the Dobermans, except she'd shut down at even a hint of frustration. Very soft and sensitive. So I think that's a good example of individual dogs being very different despite being the same breed.
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:52 PM
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I agree that all those things play a factor as well as individual dog. I don't necessarily think it's sex related either. Auggie is very very closely linked to my emotions. I had to do a orientation demo with him the night I found out his grandma had been put down and was incredibly upset. Trying to get my dog to do a "stay?" A joke. He didn't want to stay. He wanted to be right up next to me the whole time. Stay? No way. It was embarrassing.

Payton OTOH doesn't care. If I'm upset he's throwing a toy around across the room while Auggie is leaning up against me. =P
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:32 PM
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I think it is pretty individualize, and until I had both my dogs, I never would have realized the nuances to the type of caring.

Meg is my "sensitive", soft dog. She will shut down if you are upset with her (or if she thinks you are). She's peed when people yelled at her. She will slink away. I absolutely can not train her if I'm not willing and able to at least act happy. She's made me a remarkable actress! HOWEVER...she couldn't care less if I'm upset, as long as it isn't with her. If I'm on the bed crying, she will be sound asleep in her usual spot at the foot of the bed, or if she's in the other room won't even come in to investigate. Doesn't involve her, so no worries.

Gusto is the opposite. If I get really frustrated in training, he might check out a bit ("I don't know what your issue is, but I'm just going to go over here and sniff"), but he doesn't shut down. He forgives quickly - if I fix my attitude, he's back in the game. But he's much, much more resilient than Meg to my emotions in training. But if I'm upset otherwise? He's on my lap, on my face, trying to get close and cuddle and figure out what is going on.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:10 PM
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Kaia is SUPER sensitive to me... annoyingly so sometimes. Gunnar will stay away from me if I'm pissy, but he's nowhere near as sensitive as she is. She will shut down if I raise my voice, even if it's not directed towards her.

Zellie is also pretty sensitive to me, but not as much as Kaia. She'll stick close by if she knows I'm upset, but not get annoying. Nat & StiXxX give no cares whatsoever how I feel and are not the least bit bothered by me.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:07 PM
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To me this is all very complicated.... I would say my shelties in general have been much more affected by people fighting with each other or something like that. They'd hide. My paps will follow you around and kind of look concerned but they don't hide. On the other hand, I find the paps are more sticky and velcro around the house. Weird.

Summer is sort of soft but also very oblivious most the time. lol Everything is happy to Summer all the time. Summer's life is a party, I am pretty sure. I can't remember if it was Jess or Ashley last weekend that commented that Summer is in her own little happy world all the time. My vet said Summer's approach to everything is 'This is awesome!'

Mia is weird... I don't know if I can describe it. She's the most doting and affectionate dog I've ever owned. But sometimes she's a butt and seems to not give a crap what I think. When I'm sick or something she will snuggle with me and be very concerned acting... for a time then she seems to get annoyed and just want me to DO SOMETHING. If I'm upset she will come comfort me while Summer is just being happy like usual. But I can't mope long because Mia just doesn't have the patience.

In training she frustrates a lot more and will 'check out' if I'm stressed. If I have a bad day and try to train Mia, it doesn't go smoothly. Summer NEVER changes, she's always raring to go and is happy to work. But then she's sensitive about some things... like she's very worried about being kicked accidentally and she hates things being thrown (toys).

Mia's also apt to notice other people and animals behaving 'off'. She was not liking the people in the obedience ring doing a 3 min stay and staring at their dogs. Or when we're out walking and people are standing still (that is WRONG according to Mia). So in general she's just more sensitive to environment, me, and other people.

The most sensitive of the paps is Rose for sure. You have to be happy voice to her all the time. Nard is also pretty darn sensitive. But.... he's also less biddable than the others.

So yeah... complicated. I think it is mostly individual personality.
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