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Scanning The Environment: Exploring Why Women Struggle More with Reactive Dog Walks

For those of you who have male partners or husbands, you may have noticed that they often seem to handle walking our dogs with more ease and confidence. They appear less concerned or stressed about it. While this isn’t true for everyone, it does seem to be a general trend. But why is this the case?

Physical Differences

Firstly, one of the most obvious reasons is physical strength. Men are generally larger and stronger than women, which can make a significant difference in handling a reactive dog during a stressful situation. This physical advantage naturally boosts their self-confidence. They might feel more capable of controlling the dog, separating it from other dogs if necessary, or even protecting themselves from potential bites. This confidence can reduce their stress levels compared to women, who might worry more about being overpowered by their dogs.

Biological and Vision Differences

Another fascinating factor is the difference in vision. Studies have shown that men typically have a wider peripheral vision than women. Historically, this makes sense because men were often the protectors and needed to be on the lookout for dangers in the environment. Women, on the other hand, evolved to focus more on the finer details, such as the mimicry of their babies' faces and, by extension, their pets’ body language. Women’s vision tends to be more tunnel-focused, enabling them to pick up on subtle cues and signals from their dogs. This skill is incredibly valuable for nurturing and bonding but can become overwhelming when combined with the need to scan the environment for potential threats as well.

Cognitive Load and Stress

This dual focus creates a significant cognitive load for women. They are naturally attuned to their dogs’ body language, constantly monitoring their facial expressions, tail movements, and muscle tension. When walking a reactive dog, women also need to scan the environment for possible triggers, which adds an extra layer of stress. This combination of detailed attention to the dog and the broader environmental scan is not what women are biologically wired for, leading to increased stress levels.

Self-Acceptance and Awareness

Understanding these differences can lead to greater self-acceptance. If you’ve ever been told that you’re overreacting or dramatizing the situation, know that your stress is valid. The additional cognitive load you experience is real and significant. Recognizing this can help you be kinder to yourself and less critical of your reactions.

Practical Strategies

So, how can we use this information to our advantage? One approach is to practice using our peripheral vision in a more relaxed state. During walks, instead of just scanning for dangers, take moments to appreciate the beauty around you. Notice the trees, the flowers, the architecture. This practice can help shift your brain from a state of high alert to one of appreciation and calm. Personally, I’ve started integrating this into my walks. While keeping an eye out for potential triggers, I also make a point to admire the scenery. I’ve noticed the beautiful mountains, the way the clouds sit just below their peaks, and the fresh, crisp air. These moments of mindfulness help remind me that I am safe and can enjoy the environment around me, even while staying vigilant.

Reflecting on Our Walks

I invite you to try this on your next walk. Pay attention to where your focus lies and observe how your stress levels change when you consciously look for beauty and joy in your surroundings. You might find that this practice not only reduces your stress but also enhances your overall walking experience with your dog. Conclusion The added stress women experience when walking sensitive, reactive dogs is rooted in both physical and biological differences. By understanding these factors and practicing mindfulness, we can better manage our stress and enjoy our time with our dogs. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic. How do you manage stress during walks? What techniques have you found helpful? *************************************************** My speciality is helping women with the emotional & mental stress of living with sensitive, easily triggered dogs. Visit my websites for more information on how I can support you: Shift, Align & Shine: Heart Connection Dogs:


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