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Discussion Starter #1
I embarrassingly admit that I suffer from anxiety. It was bad enough at one point that even my own family members caused attacks in me. I've been working on it, of course, but I'm not fully past it yet. My question is, will my anxiety when meeting new people make my dog nervous too?

In October, I'll be getting a Jack Chi puppy, who I plan to fully socialize for her benefit. I'd like to take her to a dog park for that, as well as walks around a lake where there are lots of joggers all year round. I'm worried that, when the time comes for socialization (after all important vaccinations), the fairly consistent changes in my body language and voice will teach my dog to be afraid of people, maybe even protective or aggressive. Am I worrying over nothing, or are there things I should/can do? I'm going to work with my mother's dog, who is a little too under-socialized, but she's 5 years old and already seems to have her own thoughts about new people.
 

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Yes, dogs can definitely pick up anxiety and tension in their owners (or anyone, for that matter... but especially their owners) and feel vulnerable or defensive because of this.

Sorry, I'm not sure what your other question is.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for replying so quickly! My other question is, can I do anything about it? There's a good chance I'll still have some visible anxiety by, say around December-January or so when the puppy is ready to socialize. Is there anything I can do to show her that meeting new people is good, even if I tense up a little sometimes?

I am working with my doctor and making good progress, but I just want to be prepared and have solutions for potentially bad situations before they have the chance to become problems. I couldn't forgive myself if I caused an innocent puppy to experience what I do when meeting new people.
 

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Some dogs are far more sensitive to our emotional and/or physical state than others. My male Rotty would get extremely clingy when a family member's recurring illness would come out of dormancy. He'd begin being very watchful and protective several days before the onset of symptoms. What he was picking up on remains a mystery, but it was 100% for real.

Certain breeds are somewhat known for being keyed in to their humans, but individual dogs of any breed or mix have shown this trait. I'd recommend looking at adult dogs rather than getting a puppy. I believe all dogs can detect our emotional state to some degree, but they don't all react the same way. Some will take the cue from you and become fearful and apprehensive. Some will become protective (not always in a bad way). Others (like my Golden) will see that you are in a delicate state and decide that throwing a tennis ball will cure whatever ails you. That seems to be his prescription for everything, BTW.

My point is that the right dog may actually help you be more at ease, and get you outside your box. I think a JRT/Chi mix might not be the best choice--it will of course depend on the individual. An extremely outgoing, friendly, and naturally fearless dog (like a Bernese Mountain Dog) may be a better choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I would have liked to adopt a dog from a shelter, but I haven't been able to. A while back, I went to check the two places in my area, but I only found one older dog that seemed like a good fit. He was about 4 years old. When I told them that I have two cats, they made me bring them in to see the reaction between the dog and my cats. Obviously my cats were scared, but the dog was fine until my more outspoken kitty hissed. That made the dog whimper and retract.

That was all that happened, but they said I couldn't have the dog because they weren't sure it was a right fit. I explained to them that my cats are initially scared of everything, but always warm up given just a little time and they never, ever attack. I had a kitten a year ago that they both hissed at, but after about three days, all three cats were lounging around on top of each other. They didn't want to hear it. The same thing happened to my mother's co-worker at a different shelter. They made him bring his current dog in to see the dog he wanted. The dog in the shelter growled and they wouldn't let him adopt it.

Outside of my anxiety, the JRT and Chihuahua breeds truly are perfect for me, so any combination should be fulfilling for me and the dog. While I know there are mixed views on mixes on this forum (no joke intended), I've done as much research as possible to make sure I'm making the right decision. I actually started out wanting some dogs just because I thought they were cute! I guess this will be extra motivation to better myself. Maybe I can start early and socialize myself! :p

EDIT: That last bit was a joke, but it just hit me that it might be a good idea. Just to begin with, if I can meet with some of the people and their dogs beforehand, so that I'm comfortable the next time around, it can be a workable temporary solution until I have the anxiety fully under control. It can also let me know beforehand if any owners have created troublesome dogs and what to keep an eye out for.
 

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I would say that dogs can smell the stress hormones that our bodies produce right through our skin. Their sense of smell is so strong, that I am sure that they react to the pheromones that are expressed during stressfull times and events.

A family that yells and screams no doubt can make a dog anxious and unhappy, also.
 

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I would say that dogs can smell the stress hormones that our bodies produce right through our skin. Their sense of smell is so strong, that I am sure that they react to the pheromones that are expressed during stressfull times and events.

A family that yells and screams no doubt can make a dog anxious and unhappy, also.
I'm not sure I buy into that theory. I think they can read body language the same as we can. I don't have a heightened sense of smell, broader hearing range, etc...., but I can tell if someone is uneasy or not just by picking up minor tics in their behavior.
 

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Outside of my anxiety, the JRT and Chihuahua breeds truly are perfect for me, so any combination should be fulfilling for me and the dog. While I know there are mixed views on mixes on this forum (no joke intended), I've done as much research as possible to make sure I'm making the right decision. I actually started out wanting some dogs just because I thought they were cute! I guess this will be extra motivation to better myself. Maybe I can start early and socialize myself! :p
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder myself and I can tell you I think it has rubbed off on Max to a certain extent. If he sees me get nervous about a person or thing then he gets nervous about the person or thing. So it really is a matter of working on yourself. Of course I'm also a veteran of years (and years) of therapy and different medications and from my point of view anxiety is something that is managed but doesn't neccesarily go away. As in, it is my belief through therapy, behavioral modification and/or medicine if needed it is certainly manageable and may have times when it doesn't impact your life as greatly, but because I believe there is a genetic component to it it also never really leaves you, you know? I don't mean this in a defeatist you'll never be better way. I think you will, but from my own experience relapses happen and my normal anxiety days are still a little more intense than the average joes maybe.

It sounds like your problem is fairly severe at least at this moment which is why I wonder a little bit why you would want a dog like a Parson's terrier or Chi which require A LOT of socialization in my opinion. Especially if you are getting a puppy. You know yourself better than I could ever presume to, but you need to ask yourself if this is really the right choice. I mean you are saying "other than the anxiety" but that's a huge component.

I know you know mixes are controversial on this board but one reason is there are very very few ethical mix breeders. So this mix puppy is coming to you with an untested background or rather the two parents may not be ideal specimens of their breed which means a higher chance of getitng a dog with temperment problems. With Chis especially being overbred as they are this is a risk you face. Why the unpredictable mix anyway, what is it about them that appeals to you? What is it about each individual breed that appeals to you? I mean at the very least I would suggest picking one of those breeds and going through a reputable breeder if you are dead set on a puppy and those particular breeds.

I guess that's neither here nor there. The bottom line answer to your original question is yes it can taint a dog's disposition. And your tongue in cheek idea of socializing yourself isn't too far off. You just need to be aware of your own triggers and what triggers your dog to make sure you learn how to manage them. I think you can definitely still be a great dog owner though you just need to have a fair degree of self-awareness (as any dog owner should really).

Sorry that was so long.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It sounds like your problem is fairly severe at least at this moment which is why I wonder a little bit why you would want a dog like a Parson's terrier or Chi which require A LOT of socialization in my opinion. Especially if you are getting a puppy. You know yourself better than I could ever presume to, but you need to ask yourself if this is really the right choice. I mean you are saying "other than the anxiety" but that's a huge component.
That was a poor choice of words on my part. When mentioning the severity, I meant that as a reference to how far along I've come. I've also been working on my problem for years, and it is a special case where the anxiety is caused by another condition. That condition is very treatable and will eventually go away. My concern was mostly about the times where there are large groups of people, like in the dog park, when I'm most likely to have a lapse. Admittedly, I haven't ventured into the park, because I had no reason to before, but that's my first step ASAP. I'd like to see if it actually will be a problem at all. Animals do, for the most part, put me at ease, even ones I don't know, so having a big mix of people and pets can make a huge difference.

I know you know mixes are controversial on this board but one reason is there are very very few ethical mix breeders. So this mix puppy is coming to you with an untested background or rather the two parents may not be ideal specimens of their breed which means a higher chance of getitng a dog with temperment problems. With Chis especially being overbred as they are this is a risk you face.
I do realize this and have spoken with the woman about her parent dogs. She claims they are pure-bred and came from reputable breeders. I've asked her for contact info for those breeders and for others who have adopted her litters, and I'm still in the process of checking everything out. Obviously if something doesn't sit right, I'll cancel my agreement to adopt, as I still have until October before the litter is ready. Though she does have a clause that says she'll take her dogs back at any time at any age. I will, however, try talk to the other breeders to see what they think regarding their dogs in my situation.

Why the unpredictable mix anyway, what is it about them that appeals to you? What is it about each individual breed that appeals to you? I mean at the very least I would suggest picking one of those breeds and going through a reputable breeder if you are dead set on a puppy and those particular breeds.
I like the energy and exercise requirements of the JRT, which would be a great jogging companion for me. I also have a good amount of work for the hunter to do, as the cats have given up on the rodent problem entirely. Having cats at all can be a problem, but raising them from puppyhood with cats can help. While long jogs might not be a Chis cup of tea, having a dog to lounge around with is good too. I'm looking for a companion that's a good watchdog and will be loyal to me and wary of strangers (at least initially). I live in a neighborhood where it pays to be cautious, and having a dog that thinks that way is good for me. I also want a dog that needs a lot of time, attention, and affection, because I have an abundance of those to give. Both breeds have those things. They also can both have outgoing, fearless personalities, which, as Marsh Muppet mentioned, is a plus.

You just need to be aware of your own triggers and what triggers your dog to make sure you learn how to manage them. I think you can definitely still be a great dog owner though you just need to have a fair degree of self-awareness (as any dog owner should really).
I've actually been keeping a health journal for many years and part of it includes my triggers for anxiety. One of them is groups of people approaching me when I'm alone. In a dog park (as it only occurred to me earlier today, hence the creation of this topic), I'd only considered that there would be dogs, not people. But I will be testing the situation soon and seeing just what sort of reaction it causes. Having the dog with me would mean I'm not "alone" and the attention, including mine, would be on my cute furry friend, so it could end up not being an issue at all. I'd just like to be prepared in any case.

Sorry that was so long.
No problem. As you can see, I'm guilty of that too (in just about every post!) :D
 

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You sure have your stuff together (anxiety issues or no) :) Sounds like you have really thought things through. Good luck, I hope you'll stick around on the forum and talk to us all about your new puppy when you get him/her.
 

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I believe a dog can read/feel a person's emotional state. They have been bred to be tuned into us.
Do you think it is possible to go to the dog park at "off" hours when it is not so busy? When I go in the early afternoon during the work week there is only a few dogs and handlers, so this might be easier for you to get used to the crowd.
Also, you could invite friends with dogs over (or vice versa) to have a small play date.
I would also like to add that mice/rats carry a lot of diseases so please be careful...

Good luck with everything and remember to take lots of pics/videos because they grow up so quickly!
 

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Grumblesnort no need to be embarrassed about suffering from Anxiety issues. It is a fairly common thing that many people suffer from. It is my understanding that many people who have issues with anxiety are actually calmed by the presence of their dogs. If this works for you, you might look into having your dog trained as a service dog and then you will be allowed to take your "calming effect" with you to many places. This is assuming your condition is documented by doctors and the dog you chose has the physical/mental ability to do this task.

You asked what you can do to help prevent it. The biggest thing that you can do is to get you and your dog into some socialization classes and then continue on in obedience. Obedience helps dogs build confidence in their relationship with their people. It also helps people to feel confident in not only their dog but in controlling that part of their environment. I have worked with people with anxiety and dogs. It is a win win situation in most cases. Do you have any exercises you practice? Regulating your breathing, counting in your head or naming things? Can I ask why you chose a Jack/Chi puppy? I am thinking those are both rather "wired" breeds as it is. You may want to rethink breed choice and maybe look into dogs that are of calmer mind sets to start with. just a thought. :)
 

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EDIT: That last bit was a joke, but it just hit me that it might be a good idea. Just to begin with, if I can meet with some of the people and their dogs beforehand, so that I'm comfortable the next time around, it can be a workable temporary solution until I have the anxiety fully under control. It can also let me know beforehand if any owners have created troublesome dogs and what to keep an eye out for.

Have you tried going to a dog park by yourself?. You do not need to own a dog to go to one. If anyone asks where your dog is just tell them that you are there because you are thinking of adopting a dog and want to see a few different breeds for there temperament etc. That way you can socialize yourself at the same time. I am sure a lot of people would be willing to show you their dog and tell you all about what makes them so wonderful.
 

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Taint :confused: I suppose that depends on how a dog reacts to a person's anxiety. I've lived with anxiety issues for about a decade and I am incredibly lucky to have adopted Ilya (my siberian husky) last year and noticed that he tends to get very clingy when I'm experiencing anxiety. He will even lean into me or stay with a paw on my foot. My terrier mix doesn't react this way. I don't think she notices at all or bothered by it.

Have you looked into therapy dogs? I hear there are some that are trained to keep someone with a panic attack from harm, remind them to take meds, and to preward upcoming attacks.

Ilya has his own anxiety issues so I have learned to be sensitive to his and try to coax him into whatever it is that stresses him.

I like Lola's Dad's idea. We had looked at a variety of dogs before we adopted ours. Visiting the shelter is also a good idea because some of these dogs are already housetrained and may have even gone through some formal training.
 

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Under stress, among other things, the body releases copious quantities of Cortisol. If the dog smells the Cortisol and also notices that the owner or resident of the home is behaving in a stressed out fashion, there can be no surprise that the dog makes the connection that the affected person(s) are upset, anxious, worried, et al., therefore, when the autonomic nervous system takes over, even if a person acts as though they are fine, the odors coming from the person's endocrine system will surely give them away, in any event.
 

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Thanks for clarifying. You've already received some really excellent advice... Inga and Max's Human made exceptionally great posts.

As others have told you, how your dog reacts to your tensing up depends a lot on the individual dog. I know Honey is completely sensitive to my feelings -- when she used to be leash reactive, she would sense my anxiety when I saw a dog coming (pre-empting her reaction) and that often made the problem worse. She is quite attuned to people's emotions; it's part of what makes her a great therapy dog. Spunky probably couldn't care less. Both are the same breed. If you're getting a puppy, it's pretty much the luck of the draw as to whether your dog will be the kind that becomes defensive, comforting or indifferent.

I would certainly go to the dog park and see whether that makes you anxious. Perhaps you can bring Eclipse if you feel too wary of going alone. If it does, not to worry... bear in mind that dog parks are not ideal places to socialise a young puppy. Save for strictly regulated dog parks, many an accident has occurred in a dog park that has ruined a pup's socialisation process. It only takes one obnoxious dog/owner to set you back months of training and resocialisation, so please be careful about socialising your pup in an uncontrolled environment. I would also look into puppy classes around your area -- those make ideal places for socialisation, and you may feel less anxious when socialising your pup with people "in the same boat" as you are, also facing the early months of puppy-raising...learning and teaching together, sharing in each other's accomplishments. Many puppy classes will let you go in and watch a couple of classes by yourself to see if you want to join, which may be another useful way to "socialise" yourself.

Socialising your pup with strangers is also very important... however, if that unnerves you, you can always do it with friends. Bring your puppy over to a gathering at a friend's house, or let her meet some of your friends' dogs (provided those friends and dogs are well-behaved!) Obedience training is also a great way to build confidence, both in dogs and in humans. If you get the hang of that and enjoy it, you may also want to look into dog sports. No need to compete... just some fun agility classes, rally or search and rescue.
 

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Although I know that dogs "take their cue' from us and may become anxious when we do, etc., I also think that you have thought this through and I say "good for you". Having a puppy gives you something to focus on--and my opinion only-will most likely be a very positive thing for you. Just having a dog I find to be very calming. You have gotten some good advice here- do for yourself what you would for your puppy- go out of your comfort zones slowly-build your confidence together and enjoy your companion.
I have what many people consider a "hyer" breed (miniature schnauzers) and they are anything but. I am a very laid back person and they have learned to be, too. If this is the puppy you like and you are going in with your eyes wide open (regarding breed characteristics) --go for it and have fun.I would also suggest getting into a group obedience class as early as possible. Puppy classes are a lot of fun and you will be very glad you did it. Best of luck and we want pictures and regular updates.
 
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