A far cry from yelling "Get back" or "No."
Brut is on the couch protecting Daddy and his space. Zappa walks in, Brut's snout starts to crinkle, Zappa won't retreat. A low growl forms and I walk calmly over to Brut. Face to face, I ask for eye contact and his attention. He lowers his head for ear scratches and cuddles. The tension in him breaks and life carries on. If for some reason he can not overcome his powerful emotions, I ask him to get off the couch and go to his crate for some time alone. He complies willingly. As he leaves the couch his body instantly relaxes and he seems happy to be saved from himself and an ugly situation.
So much better than calling or yelling his name to get his attention that still leaves him in a situation he obviously can not handle on his own, left with too many choices, only to have me react by jumping in to try to gain control.
I am learning.
I am enjoying this gentler technique. It never occurred to me to involve more physical and direct contact. It helps limiting their choices, because I've tried every other way to let the dogs work things out for themselves and it hasn't worked. It also helps nipping things in the bud because EVERYONE'S stress is at a much lower state, which makes it so much easier to respond in a much more positive way. Most importantly me. It also gives them a better choice when I am not in a panic, because I am not a threat. When sometimes it was a tough call if I was or wasn't because my fear or anger would add fuel to the fire.
And it is so much easier on my conscious.
Too many times I tried to use voice commands and too many times they were in angry, sharp authoritative tones. It wasn't intentional, but in the heat of the moment that's how they were directed. They eventually began to backfire on me and became signals of action for Brut. I have been slowly working my way back from an actual fight to the beginning warning signs to prevent fights or aggressive behaviors. Since this post when I asked for help, it just came to me to get off my butt and go over to Brut. With no fear, no anger, no panic. Sometimes touch alone can change his entire aggressive thought process. I didn't realize the responsibility I was putting on Brut knowing how he is and leaving the choice in his hands. Just taking these simple steps has lifted his burden tremendously. Not every dog can make a good decision by himself, Brut is one of those dogs. And so now we make them together. :)
And as far as Fiona "chatting" with Blaze at the door...well Fiona still likes to claim she is the pretty sister. :)
And for our friends, our hearts and prayers go out to K and her family. We are all with you.