I’ve been using touch more so than any other form of communication with Brut when he gets in his testy moods. It is by far his most sensitive receptor and one that that he responds to the quickest. Whether it is a calming touch or one that over stimulates him.
Today, while Brut was being protective of me the protective barrier line around him suddenly flared out to include Fiona was on the couch, which meant she became an instant threat. Fiona became trapped as Brut’s large body was blocking any escape for her. Brut immediately translated that she was not adhering to his warning and got low to the ground, ears back, emitting a warning growl.
I gently got him by the scruff of the neck, pulled him towards me and held him in a large bear hug. He continued his warning to Fiona, but did not fight me. I held him tight and let him continue to voice himself, allowing Fiona to exit and for Brut to know he is safe with me.
I have done this several times since the beginning of the year when I realized how overly sensitive and responsive Brut is to touch. One time he had Zappa backed into a corner when I got a hold of him and let him bark his warnings at Zappa while I held him tight to myself. Zappa who once again ignored and pushed past Brut’s protective line and the warnings had it coming. But instead Brut was safe to express himself while feeling protected in my arms.
I don’t correct him, soothe him, or try to stop him. I just hold him. Interesting concept, don’t you think? I also do something of the same nature when I am petting Brut and an intruder comes along; when he turns to snarl, I stop petting him, but I leave my hand on his body or head and just hold it there. When he turns back to me I will continue to pet him. There is something about the constant contact that gives him a security I believe he didn’t have as a young pup and dealing with his abandonment issues. The protection and safety he was suppose to get from his mother was taken away at such an early age where he was left to defend himself. And so I’ve become his surrogate mother.
It has helped in his overall demeanor and his comfort level. Brut is feeling less and less threatened and any instances with the other dogs has decreased ten fold. He will always be a moody dog with all his character defects, but if I can show him that he is safe with me without being reprimanded, then I’ve cut the battle in half. And that’s worth more than having the perfect dog. Every day Brut teaches me there is more to dogs than I could have ever thought. He has taught me to think way outside of the box for exactly what he needs to help himself.
Amazing, isn't it?