Arousal. Good, Bad or ?

Arousal. Good, Bad or ?
Pamela Dennison (c) September 2015

I’ve been talking about arousal for years. There is “good” arousal and “bad” arousal. However, they’re not different coins – they’re really just opposite sides of the same one.

There are times in everyone’s life that “bad” arousal takes hold and manifests itself into an oftentime painful physical reaction. However, “good” arousal can also display in the same way.

I had first hand experience with it yesterday. I was high as a kite with excitement that my new book will have many homes in different countries. Just the fact that after a year and a half, it’s finally coming to fruition as my first self published book, was enough to send me to the moon.

I couldn’t sleep last night, couldn’t calm my mind and woke up to a mild bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I could barely stand up and in fact, I had to take a nap before I could actually function – both mentally and physically.


A few years ago, I was presenting my R.E.W.A.R .D. Zone seminar for aggressive & reactive dogs and someone asked me how I kept my Border collie Shadow* exercised. “Don’t you have to play with him all day long to keep him calm?”

Rather than try to explain why I didn’t play with him that often, (that I did more mental stimulation than the typical “must tug and throw the ball 24/7 for Border collies” mindset) I brought him out of the van to demonstrate. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I had the entire group look at his face; smooth and calm, eyes were serene, and ears and body were completely relaxed.

Then I threw the frisbee for him about 10 times.

I asked the group to look at him again. His face was tight and wrinkled, eyes wild, ears back, body stiff. I asked, “Is this the face and body of a calm dog?” It was not.

“Good” arousal is as exhausting and physically stressful as “bad” arousal. It put Shadow (and me) into the same state as “bad” arousal would have done.

Interesting, isn’t it? ☺

*Shadow was my human aggressive dog. FMI on Shadow, click here.