« Back

Surviving Overwhelm

11/12/2023 - Mindset and motivation

We all have those moments when life gets on top of us ...

You're working hard to keep life together. Juggle kids, work, home life, friends.

And then your puppy, rescue or older dog's behaviour feels like the final straw, it feels like they are out to break you.

It happens to me too.

Last week I chatted to various clients at the end of their tether about barking, puppy toileting, adolescence, coming back when called, multi-dog household tensions and more.

Life can be a bit of a rollercoaster, especially when we are going through challenging life stages or changes with our dogs, behaviour is escalating and you don't know what to do. Things don't seem to be going the way that you hoped, and it can be tricky to navigate a way out.

I thought it would be useful to let you know some of the practical tips that help me when things get a bit overwhelming and my energy levels are low. Hopefully you can take some inspiration from these.


Step away from the problem

There is absolutely nothing wrong with stepping away and taking a break … I do it all the time.

That could take many forms, but often when people first contact me, we will discuss how they can ensure that their dog, and they, are not practicing behaviours that they don’t want to happen. For example, if walking from the house is hard work for you and your dog, or letting your dog off the lead causes you to stress out, can you take your dog for a walk in a hired field rather than worrying about them running off or barking at other dogs?

Step away from those habits that cause you and your dog stress and do something that gives you joy. For me that could be as simple as snuggling with my dog, or taking a long walk away from other people and dogs or in a secure space.

Focus on what you have to be grateful for

Just about every appointment I have, we talk about what is great about a client’s dog, and their lives with their dog.

There are always so many positives, but sometimes that one overwhelming negative takes over. Take some time to really think about what is great about your dog. Maybe he gives good snuggles, he is great at home with the grandchildren, he sleeps amazingly well at night and never disturbs you, his recall is amazing, he travels well in the car, or settles well in the evenings.

I have lived with dogs with various behavioural issues, but they had some fantastic qualities which I cherish.


Write down the problem

So often when I have had an initial conversation with a new client they feel better already.

Part of that is about getting things off your chest and verbalising what is going on.  I don’t know about you, but I am rubbish about keeping a diary, but I do have a journal. Writing in it can be sporadic, but when I need to reason out a problem, I will write it down and I always feel much better for doing so.

I feel I have downloaded the problem, put it in to words, and consolidated what the problem is. You don't even need to write it down, maybe just have a chat to a trusted friend to work through your thoughts. 

Make a plan

We all can lose focus and then things can stall. For me, feeling a bit confused about what my next steps are can bring my energy down. It makes things seem much harder than they should be.

At that point I make sure I create a plan. That could be writing down what needs to be done, pros and cons of a situation, writing down exactly what the problem is or simply the steps that you need to get were you want to be. Personally I tend to work back from the end solution that I want to get to and plan back from there, but whatever works for you is good as long as it gives you the gift of clarity.

And then ... take one tiny action

And suitably this is the tiniest section … if you have no motivation, commit to one tiny little thing so that you can feel some achievement (pic is of the postbox that we put on our own gate to solve any possibility of being disturbed when we are out).  See how you feel after that. Maybe you want to do a little bit more now.


Reach out for help

Be okay about asking for advice from a qualified person who can give you professional help. Don’t leave it too long. Don’t struggle along on your own. Find people that can lift you up and give you some good advice. I do that with my dog, my business and day to day work … it’s great for me, great for my dog and great for my clients.

I do hope you can take some of these ideas and use them for yourself

But just know this...

It's OK if you're not OK today.

It's OK to take a break.

And it's okay to ask for help.

Find someone who works with you, helps you understand what is happening and why, and helps you with simple strategies to help you and your dog that are achievable. And when you find them, stick with them 💖