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Blog — polyvagal theory

Nervous Systems and Somatic Resonance

Nervous Systems and Somatic Resonance

"Dogs are very sensitive to body language, so the least little tense movement--a change of gait, a slight hunching of the shoulders--can be observed and interpreted as something being amiss. When we're upset, our voices can go up slightly in frequency as well. Dogs get these nuances in ways most people don't.  Masking strong feelings by acting like things are OK may not always work, either: It's quite likely that dogs can smell fear, anxiety, even sadness... The flight-or-fight hormone, adrenaline, is undetectable by our noses, but dogs can apparently smell it. In addition, fear or anxiety is often accompanied...


Compression of Space

Compression of Space

  Physical compression of space = Emotional compression, which can lead to fight/flight response if your dog feels trapped Trigger points: front door and other doorways/thresholds, car, bed, crate, fence, barrier, leash, tie-out, etc (all create physical compression of space)   Why this concept is important: Your dog’s threshold (emotional capacity) will go DOWN according to the amount of compression he feels. This can lead to “unexpected” events where your dog acts more aggressive or fearful than he does when not under compression. It’s also important to recognize when your dog is “denning” himself because he’s seeking safety. If you...


Handler Self-Care Part One: Your Oxygen Mask

Handler Self-Care Part One: Your Oxygen Mask

We all know the drill: you put on your own oxygen mask first, THEN you help others. But this doesn't just hold true in emergencies, we need to make this a practice in every day life! I've noticed that when I let myself get super stressed and run down, I'm not a very good caretaker to my animals. I end up walking around like a zombie and don't have energy to give them the time, attention, and exercise they deserve. So let's do something about that! Taking time for yourself should be a daily practice. Today I took time for...


How to Tell if Your Dog is Socially Engaged

How to Tell if Your Dog is Socially Engaged

Dogs are like humans in many ways, including their biology. An important biological element that we share is the 10th cranial nerve, also known as the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve connects the brain to the body and helps regulate the autonomic nervous system in both humans and dogs. When all is going well our ventral vagus is in charge, and we have feelings of safety and comfort. Our breathing and movements are easy and joyful. We are in a state of flow, showing playful behavior while interacting with others. When we start to sense fear or perceive danger, this system also helps...