To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted (Ecclesiastes 3 King James version of The Bible)
I admire the poetry of religious writing, thus the quotation.
I have started an early harvest, while still planting new good habits. Brian makes progress, even if the main issue (fear of people) makes his progress rather slow. He’s not hiding behind me every time he sees a human, if not approached, he ignores people. I see small changes every day and they make me happy.
When progress is slow it’s easy to forget that ‘to every thing there is a season’. It’s easy to get frustrated and that makes any training impossible. With Brian, the problem is: if he’s terrified of people (men and children of both sexes) he will bite. So it’s vital to teach him to ignore people.He needed to learn that as soon as possible. I had to remember at every stage that any form of fear experienced during training will make his issues worse.
The rules are: no force in any form or shape, no auditory violence (no, it’s not a proper term, but it serves the purpose). No pulling, no pushing, no poking-any contact between Brian and humans must create a pleasant sensation as the basis for future trust.
I always try to imagine how I’d feel ‘in the dog’s shoes’. I don’t pretend to be a dog, the point of the exercise is creating empathy so the accuracy of judgement is not vital. My own ‘trainability’ is low, but if someone can handle me, I will do anything. There are very few people who can be bothered to find a way to manipulate me, so I generally do whatever I want. And I’m also a good rebel. If anyone shouted at me or tried to physically force me into doing something I would not do it. So, I never underestimate the power of stubbornness. I try to find the reason why the dog doesn’t want to do something. And I never try to eradicate behaviours that are natural-just because I believe it causes unnecessary stress. So my dogs bark if they feel like it, dig if they feel like it, roll in fox wee if they fancy doing that. I do try to teach them that a few woofs to communicate the postman’s arrival is enough, that there’s a digging patch in the garden and that fresh grass is for rolling, fox wee rolling is always frowned upon (but I do not use any form of punishment-I just let Lily know I’m unhappy about this particular habit of hers).
There’s been a lot of small changes to make sure I have enough time for the dogs, that we can have enough space to learn, that we are happy. The phase of my life influenced by Brian is ‘work in progress’ but even now I know we’ll have perfect lives (all of us: two humans, eight pets)