Over and over again, a mantra goes through my head when I work with Blue:
"He feels what you feel and will respond that way."
I believe this theoretically and know that our emotions and thoughts communicate to others, whether they be human, animals or plants. Any life form has the ability to give and receive communication. We may not see it but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
I can stop a human in their tracks with one look. I effectively control those under my care at work quite easily.
So as I read more from Ceasar Millan and worked with Jimi (Blue's trainer) who subscribes to his philosophy, I began to look at what they said and compare it to what I know.
I struggled with the very light touch used in training Blue. By light touch, I don't mean a physical touch (though a firm and quick jab is used in his ribs to get his attention), but I mean the calmness and firmness of my voice and actions.
I have never successfully been able to stop a dog from jumping up on me when they are excited. No matter what I said or did, it did not matter. Jumping and barking would ensue and I learned to tolerate it.
I was told to ignore any of his "bad behavior" and only give him affection when he is calm.
Yesterday, I put that into play and decided to give it a try and see if it worked.
I got home and as is usual, Blue was waiting for me. Quietly and patiently, he was staring at the door. I can see him through the window.
I put my purse and keys down after unlocking the door. I took a deep breath and told myself I am happy and calm. I opened the door and looked down at him.
I said nothing.
I did nothing.
He looked at me. I said "Come" and he ran outside. He began to run around and circle me.
He then jumped up. I turned around and put my back to him and ignored him.
I kept my back to him. He ran out into the yard and peed and trotted back. He was grinning and his tail was wagging like crazy.
I looked down at him.
He started to jump up again.
I turned my back and ignored him.
Again he stopped.
I stood like that for a minute, gathered my purse and keys and walked inside. I closed the door in his face.
When I came back, he was still sitting. He was calm.
Only then did I acknowledge him. I petted his face and scratched his ears.
He now only gets affection if he is calm. Otherwise, he is ignored completely.
I ran him in the yard for 15 minutes. He is learning to let go of his toy for me to throw again. I tell him "Drop it" and repeat as necessary. I never pull on it - this can cause him to be aggressive and want to play rough - and if he doesn't drop it, I look away until he does.
I put his leash on and out the yard we go. I think about how I want to be towards him. What kind of a leader works for me?
I toss various ideas around as we walk. He behaves beautifully. I now am learning to control him with the way I look at him and not with my voice. Any and all distractions he has, I immediately put a treat up to my forehead and say "Look at me" and he does.
Suddenly it hits me. If I was with a child, I would be a certain way.
I would not be worried. I would be very aware of the child the entire time.
I would not put the child or myself in a dangerous situation. I would always make sure the child was safe.
I would not look at anyone approaching us with fear or worry that they would hurt us or steal the child but I would be willing to kick their ass if they tried.
I would keep myself cheerful and positive around the child no matter what else might be going on in my life. I would never subject a child to my worries or concerns. I would want the child to feel safe, secure and happy in my presence.
The child would trust me and learn to look to me if they needed or wanted anything. I wouldn't scold the child but would show them how to do things and then praise them when they did.
It all clicked as we were walking. I looked down at Blue and without me having to say a word, he looked up at me.
He got my thought.
I looked away and tried it again.
He again looked up at me.
We walked a bit further. We passed a yard and heard a loud and fierce bark from a dog behind the fence. It scared me and I felt my heart stop for a second.
I looked down at Blue. He was looking up at me, wanting to know how to respond.
I kept walking and acted as if I didn't give a rats ass about it.
He calmed down.
It was one of the best walks we had ever had. Every time his attention would wander, I would tell him to look at me and he did.
He is teaching me how much control I do have over my thoughts and emotions and actions. He is learning to trust me as I learn to trust myself more and more.
Last night was one of the calmest evenings we've had since he arrived.
He is learning who is in charge and because of that, his worries and concerns are falling away as he begins to trust me more and more.
He trusts me because I trust myself with him.