There’s always a particle of me in all of my dogs. There’s always a particle of each of my dog in me, too.
My way is slow. I care more about Brian to trust and understand me than about the results to be fast and impressive. So when I want him to stop doing something I get in his way, I just stand there like an idiot-between him and whatever I don’t want him to approach (another dog when he plays too rough, a kid with a ball that he wants to chase, the nice German bloke wearing fascinating fluorescent trousers who he wanted to nip at). Most often I just look like a lousy goalkeeper.
Every time he gets too excited and pulls on the lead I just stop and wait. There’s no talking or eye contact, just waiting. It’s not comfortable for either of us. Withdrawal of the reward is the punishment, lack of attention is the response to anything negative, blocking is the only physical action. I don’t ‘grab’ him when he’s near and people tell me to. What they forget is: he’d never trust me again if I did.
And swearing to myself is the sign I’m only a frustrated human.
Brian looks at me most of the time now, checks my facial expression, looks for a confirmation and signals. He’s learning how to live with me, how to be my dog. He’s trying hard to behave, to do what he thinks I want. It will take time and patience, but our bond is strong even now and I want love not fear. I’m proud of him. I’m in love with him. I respect him.
I don’t think most people who see us understand or appreciate what we do. But I want my dogs not people I don’t know to trust and love me. So I keep doing it my way.