Fight or Flight is not your friend

One of the biggest hurdles to entering pupspace easily is stress. It is the way your body reacts, with you consciously or subconsciously feeling under threat, that will transform an easy mental transition to the pupzone into a very arduous task. It is stress that you have in common with a canine, as the human body responds to a situation it perceives as threatening by giving priority to fight or flight to what you think is happening. 

The stress response was useful when human lives were often in danger. It is unlikely as a pup you are ever going to need that stress response to protect yourself. You shouldn't be needing to give priority to either running away or fighting something. However, when you are upset, try telling your body that!

The real problem for you pup is that whenever you feel threatened your body makes the decision to get stressed whether you like it or not. And feeling threatened is easy to experience. You are going to have some anxiety, most likely some apprehension like stage fright. 

When you are under that stress your sense become more acute, as you pay attention to the immediate environment for your own safety. Things that are simple and immediate become easier to do. However, harder more complicated tasks become much harder to accomplish. Your creativity takes a nose dive as you become more focused on a desire to move or simply do something to resolve your threatening situation. The important thing to note here is that your perception of the world changes, and that affects how you behave as a pup and interact with others. 

There will be situations you might find scary

Overcoming the stress hurdle can be done in three ways. Firstly, eat well, get some sleep, do some exercise, and don't obsess and overly focus on pup play as the most important thing in your life. You don't have to do all that in order, but the more of those things you do pup the less stress you will have. Looking after yourself is very important, and the efforts you make to rest and be healthy pay off as your body and mind cope with surprise and distress better. 

Secondly, deal with episodes of stress when they occur rather than ignoring them or trying to soldier on through it. When you experience the stress pup, take a time out from what you are doing to break the momentum of that physical stress response. You can distract yourself by doing an unrelated task to what you were just doing, something totally not connected to pup play. If you are hooded and afraid of breaking the scene for all involved, let your trainer know you need a moment - and then you slowly and silently count to ten. It gives you a breath so you can think. Take slow deep breaths and relax. 

Thirdly, consider your thinking. Your are unlikely to be thinking clearly as you are probably reacting to something you feel is threatening or distressing. Are you making dangerous assumptions? You have to make a mental effort to recognise that your big reaction to something is based on what you think is going on, not necessarily what is actually going on.

It is possible and all too common to start reacting to something inappropriately. You can avoid this by not focusing on what has happened and the stress of the situation. Ask yourself pup, what does the situation mean to you? Really - what is the true significance of what is happening. Once again, you can check your assumptions. Knowing and understanding the personal meaning of what is happening, use your imagination to consider other possible meanings. It's common when you're tense to come up with terrible and negative interpretations of actions and events. Think of other possibilities  By questioning your interpretation, and considering other possible reasons for things, you reduce your stress level. 

Sometimes it ain't easy to engage in pup play, and things will happen to throw you out of your relaxed pupzone. Your responding to anything stressfully will ruin your fun and play so it's worth taking the time to follow those three practices to a more relaxed pup experience