Monday, December 31, 2012

Walking with patience...

     There is a "walk" that I began to practice with Trooper when he was young, and still do now when he is being stubborn about coming back to me after being off leash for a while.  It is a walk of patience for me ... and a walk of "submission" for him. 

     I've learned that when he still wants to run and play off leash, the worst thing I can do is chase after him to try to re-leash him.  Instead, I will turn and walk the other direction, away from him.  He will run to get ahead of me, and as soon as he does, I will turn and walk in the opposite direction.  Again, he runs to get ahead of me, and again, I turn and walk in the other direction.  I will do it as many times as it takes for him to reach a point where he stops just a few feet in front of me and waits for me to approach him and clip the leash to his collar.

     When I was trying to rescue Annie from the woods, it became a talk of patience.  Sitting on the ground, where she could see and hear me, and eventually realize that I wasn't going to hurt her.  She came to me in open trust, submitting to the gentle words I sometimes whispered, and eventually, submitting to the gentle touch of my hands upon her head, neck and back.

     Beau has been far more traumatized than Annie, and often yelps in fear while he is approaching me, or when I approach him.  He wants so much to trust, but is so afraid.  Yesterday I began a patience walk with him that has already rewarded both of us.

     After letting him socialize and play with Annie and Trooper for a while, I put them [Annie and Trooper] back into the house and went back out to where Beau was waiting [and yelping] at the edge of the field, across the street.  As I approached, he walked away, and so I began talking to him and kept walking.

     He followed, sometimes so close his nose would bump the back of my legs, other times farther away or to my side.  Every time he got ahead of me, I would turn and walk the opposite direction, still talking to him, telling him what a brave dog he was, handsome and smart.  Occasionally I would stop and sit on the ground [tho more frequently on a sewer cover which is off the ground and easier on my back and bones].  Beau would circle, listening to me talk, then sit down in the weeds near me where he could see and hear me.  As soon as he became comfortable enough to lay down, I would get up and walk again.  He would get up and follow.

     We did this "dance" of sorts this morning for about an hour when suddenly, he walked directly to me and stood still.  I reached down and stroked his back and sides, talking to him softly.  He let me touch him for about two minutes before he went back into the field to consider the experience.  I went back to walking and talking, he continued to follow at a distance until he decided enough for now and went into the woods.

     I am getting closer to getting him out of the woods and into the house.  I've moved the food and water to my driveway since he has come to the door to sniff Annie through the screen.  He knows where she is ... where I am ... and he is wanting.

     Sometimes, when we approach our fears with patience ... we are rewarded with trust.

1 comment:

  1. Beau is being gentled by the hands of an expert. And, I thought as I was typing, how much LESS likely he will be to bite the hand that feeds him than some people...

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