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Panic Hack: Powerful Objects Can Calm Dogs and People (Really)

Courage Pendant

As I’ve been writing more about anxiety and panic—for dogs and humans—I’ve been talking about it and thinking about it more, too.

Something has emerged from all those conversations and ponderings: a million little tactics we come up with to cope.

Ask anyone about this, whether they have a dog who’s scared of the vacuum or a tiny little tension headache issue themselves, and they probably have some ingenious way of dealing and getting back to Game of Thrones.

Meet Panic Hacks

We do it so naturally, we brave, anxious humans. I call them Panic Hacks. And I will seek them out and bring them to you, here.

This week’s Panic Hack comes from Lana Vitsup, author of the super cute and popular Tumblr blog on Shelties called Fuck Yeah Sheltie. For those who aren’t familiar, the F-word is a time-honored tradition on Tumblr blogs.

Building Dog Confidence

Her Sheltie, Shakespeare, is a timid guy, so she got him involved in agility training and trials to build up his confidence. It worked. What’s better, Lana put a special, red leash on him just for agility trials (so he’d look his best).

Trials would be held in different locations, outside of Shakespeare’s comfort zone.

Over time, a hack emerged.

“Shakespeare made an association between his agility leash and having positive new experiences. I started to put that leash on him anytime we were going somewhere he’d never been,” says Lana. “When he saw the leash, he knew it was time to be brave.”

For instance, before the leash, Shakespeare would refuse to walk along a certain pier, because he didn’t like the noise his paws made on the metal surface. But with the leash on, he’d do it.

It became his “Good Boy Leash,” and they’re still using it today.

Shakespeare Sheltie

Shakespeare Sheltie and his Good Boy Leash!

Shakespeare Sheltie

Shakespeare, the Sheltie looking handsome via

Building Human Confidence

Humans have our “Good Boy Leashes” too—objects with special meaning or associations that we create. We can harness their power. Maybe it’s a sort of talisman, like a pendant that symbolizes courage, or a T-shirt that looks great on you.

Whatever the case, why not think about all the little things make you feel confident and comfortable, and call on those objects when you need them?

Does anyone have a powerful object to share?


Courage Pendant via Etsy Seller BeadSoul

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Overtime, I noticed that Shakespeare is on his best behavior when wearing the RED leash.
    It’s the leash we used in agility class and trials. He just knows that he has to “work” when he wears it. It is wonderful when I take him to new places where he might be uncomfortable or events with lots of people and new things when I know he will be too high strung and anxious.

    When we are in those situations, there are obviously many treats for him to be had as well, in addition to the Good Boy Leash.

    I can’t stress enough that the Red Leash is ONLY for special occasions and training. Otherwise it would lose it’s magic.

    August 8, 2013
    • Thanks so much Lana! These are amazing tips. June and I going to try it and report back.

      August 8, 2013

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