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.
A very insightful post! I think there is a lesson here for all of us.
Your pal, Pip
You've gained such good insights working with your dogs. You're addressing their potential conflicts the way dogs do--quietly and without lots of stress as long as other signals are picked up.
Being alert and heading off trouble early is just the way dogs do things. :)
I agree! We learn from each other each day.
It looks like you've achieved a much more peaceful household for all - especially yourself! Eye contact, a calm command, body language, body movement to physically block or move are all things that I am still learning to use appropriately. When I remember to approach the situation with these tools rather than my emotions and loud voice, I am so much more successful too! It's just remembering that in the heat of the moment that I sometimes fail.
Eloquently written as always!
Fred teaches me daily. sometimes the eye connection will work and there are times it doesnt. now everything has changed now that he is on phenob. I think you do a wonderful job keeping the peace. its scary at times but is so rewarding when you can sit back and look at your pack and see the progress you made. Hang in there sweetie!! Im alway shere to talk if you need anyone :)
Very informative. It's amazing how a dogs mood can be turned on and off like a light switch with the right coaching!
We have a dog here who challenges me to think differently all the time, too! I think it's good to keep challenging yourself to do better!
We "escort" Quinn past YoYoMa at night when Yo has claimed the bottom of the bed near the dog door as his sleeping turf. Everyone is calmer with that gentle intervention.
I read somewhere that shouting at your dog and speaking angrily is like adding your voice in confirmation to whatever he is upset about and that a soft firm reminder that "Everything is all right" actually soothes and refocuses, so you are right on target. I have found that saving that sharp tone only for matters of grave importance like when Siku sometimes forgets her recalls and rushes into the parking lot in her excitement to get back to the car. I guess it is the shock of hearing a tone not normally used that brings her to the realization that "THIS is serious!"
You must have so much patience and understanding to deal with all those dogs, I find it hard at times and I have half of what you do. But i agree with the 'lighter' touch- when my lot get a bit carried away play fighting I break them up by calmly walking over to them and putting my hand on each one of them- It never used to work when I would scream and shout at them!
I read you previous post and it seems like your coming along in leaps and bounds- keep it up! :)
So great that you understand what your dog needs, and what works for your dogs. And they are happy too, I betcha!
Whew, you certainly have your hands full. I admire your resolve to keep finding the best ways. Hang in there...
MAXMOM IN SOUTH AFRICA
I admire your ability to communicate with your dogs. So many people just blame it on the dogs...but it is not always their fault! They have ways of picking up what we are feeling too! You are doing an awesome job!!
Awesome! People just don't realize how much we feed our pet's actions by yelling at them. A good leader stays calm and shows their dog what they want with their own body language and understands what the dog is trying to say to them with his. That really is the best way to defuse a situation.
Your compassion and desire to learn how best to help Brut, and the other dogs, is a good reminder of how the right owner can help a dog who needs understanding and guidance to help him grow. Brut is definitely in the right place.
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