When you come to think about it, being nervous isn’t really a bad thing. It is a natural and somewhat subconscious process of our body telling us that something may be wrong. At that specific moment, we may not know what it is, but our body puts us “on warning” to be on the lookout. When asked “Why are you nervous”, we often can’t provide a definitive answer. Because of this, we often downplay or even belittle people around us who are nervous.
Our dogs can become nervous too. Because of our preconceived bias towards that function, we downplay and often try to stop our dogs from having that emotion. We think we can stop our dogs from being nervous because when we are nervous, we just keep repeating in our heads “I feel fine, I feel fine, I feel fine”.
This does not work with our dogs. They are extremely focused on the environment around them. They have built up a pattern that specific sights, sounds, and locations can result in specific actions. We commonly see this in their “fight or flight” reflex. When they are placed into a specific location, normally confined with single or no exits”, they feel the immediate need to defend or retreat.
Because we often think we can have them “work through it”, we only make “the fight” option available. This often happens in elevators.
Our dog is either in the enclosed space with the possibility of danger or we are specifically taking him into the enclosed space with the possibility of danger. Since elevators are a major part of many urban dogs’ lives, we need to resolve this.
Robin and I have a great dog training article that explains how to make the elevator safe for your dog. Please take a moment to read our dog training article titled” What Do I Do When My Dog is Nervous Riding in the Elevator”.