Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009 - Introducing the feeding ritual.

It took a couple of days for all of the Acepromazine to wear off, but we stay on course. He’s been bathed and has a clean bill of health. Noah continues to be fed not only out of his food bowl, but also by hand to develop trust. All things come from the pack leader. He knows this instinctually. Time to take this rehab a step further. Noah fears almost everything that he experiences in his life, especially the leash and training collar. Today we begin to exchange that fear for comfort and confidence.

Today is day 22. The time has come to prepare Noah for his adventures outside of his comfort zone, outside of this kennel. The moment I enter the kennel run with a leash and chain training collar our dear friend begins to shake, submissively urinate and flee into his crate. My thoughts briefly entertain what this dog might have gone through to fear the mere site of these training tools so deeply. Back to the present moment. I sit and wait patiently. With Noah, all we have is time.

It takes nearly 35 minutes for him to leave the safety of his crate and find his way to me. He stares at me, and waits. I practice a little deep breathing and meditation, confident that when the time is right he will find his way next to me as usual.

Meditating on the vision of him laying down next to me as he does everyday, it takes only a few minutes for this vision to become a reality. I feel him curl up against my leg, and as I exhale slowly and open my eyes it is clear that Noah is ready for a massage with the training tools in my hand. He shakes and trembles at the touch of the chain collar and leash, but allows me to continue. This massage is kept short, and very non-emotional on my behalf so as not to “nurture” this weakness in him.

It is important to remember: you get what you pet. If you pet a nervous fearful dog, you nurture, and get a nervous fearful dog. Massage can be used to bring about relaxation, just keep in mind that it is important to be able to read a dog correctly, and keep your human emotions out of rehabilitation. As I work on Noah I do not feel sorry for him, and I have no desire to “save” him, or “rescue” him. The moment he arrived on my property he was saved and rescued. That job is done. My job is to remove the fear, and the aggression. My job is to rehabilitate him, and help him move beyond his deepest fears.

This week my goal will be to bring his state of mind to a place where I can put the collar around his neck, and take him on a leash outside of his kennel. Now, keep in mind, I can walk up to him, grab him and quickly put the collar around his neck and drag him out of here, but will that really help him? Or will that reinforce all of his fears, and aggression. This is a dog that does not hesitate to bite. I clearly remember that.

Video (Thanks go to Craig Cirelli!): Here you will see the process it took to get Noah to eat around a pack of dogs. This instinctual and primitive ritual is actually fascinating to watch. Watch Noah’s body language,.. watch his tail, watch him try to find his place, and discover his way with the pack. There is so much about this dog that is so primal and very close to wolf nature. I am grateful for his teachings, and I am grateful to all that I have learned from Cesar Millan. Without his teachings rehabilitating this dog would not be possible for me.

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