Dog News

The Polyvagal Theory: Know It And Know Your Dog, With Sue Mimm

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Today’s Guest

Sue Mimm – Reactive Dog Expert

I’m so excited to introduce to you today’s guest, dog trainer and behavior therapist, Sue Mimm. For someone who describes herself as “not very sciencey” she sure has a great understanding of what’s going on when our dogs are reacting! Sue is a fellow dog behaviorist, and we found a great deal of common ground when it comes to our ways of working with reactive dogs. We both understand that dogs who’ve had some sort of trauma, or even just a lack of socialization, can be reactive to other dogs, strangers and a variety of other stimuli. We know that we need to help these dogs learn that the things they think are dangerous, actually aren’t… and we know that our barking, lunging dog is not just doing this for the fun of it. Our dog is actually distressed.

Now what Sue brings to us today is a scientific explanation of what’s going on in our dog’s brain and body while they are reacting to things they think might be dangerous. Driven by her own desire to understand and help our distressed dogs, Sue’s research led her to the Polyvagal Theory, developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, Ph.D. This has enabled Sue to understand and to pinpoint the times when we can work on desensitization with our dogs versus the times when we need to just allow our dogs to feel safe and happy, and highlights the importance of the Social Engagement System.

When we understand what’s really going on inside our dogs, and we understand the science behind what makes our training methods so successful, then we are far better equipped to help our reactive dogs.

I just loved having this chat with Sue because it helped me to understand WHY we aim to work with our dogs when they’re in the Green Zone. I knew that our dogs learn best when they’re calm, and that trying to work with a dog who has spiked up into the Red Zone is simply not helpful, but it was such a buzz for me to learn the science behind why this is the case!

If you’re trying to help your reactive dog then you absolutely MUST tune into today’s podcast with Sue Mimm. You’ll be seeing things in a whole new light!


You’ll Hear About

  • [02:15] The Honeymoon Period
  • [04:30] When things start to go wrong
  • [05:30] The Polyvagal Theory
  • [09:00] … and how it operates in our dogs
  • [12:10] Why dogs “don’t listen”
  • [15:00] The incredible benefits of being in the “Green Zone”
  • [17:45] Why many types of “Desensitisation Training” don’t work
  • [21:15] Keys things we can do to calm down our Nervous System
  • [25:00] Co-regulation: How OUR moods and feelings can affect our dogs – and the role of the Vagus Nerve
  • [33:00] The importance of helping our dogs to feel safe
  • [36:40] How to do “desensitisation” the right way
  • [40:30] Where to learn more from Sue

How You Can Get Involved:

Contact Sue for a chat about helping your REACTIVE dog. Sue is based in Tirol, Austria, where she runs her business called Heart Connection Dogs. She offers both online services and in-person coaching in English and German.

What are YOU doing to help your own energetic state? Remember how important this is for helping YOUR reactive dog. Consider meditation, yoga, and being in nature. Perhaps make a list of things you ALREADY do that help you to be in your Green Zone, and give yourself a pat on the back!

Links & Resources

Learn more by tuning into the podcast!

Thanks for listening—and again, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on TODT App / iTunes / Spotify to get automatic updates.




~Doggy Dan 🙂

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