Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Understanding River

IN THE BEGINNING (Setting the Stage)



From what I’ve been able to ascertain, River’s life started out rough. I believe that he was trained to be either a guard dog or a fight dog. I believe that as part of that training, he was hit in the head by hand and with a stick-like object (perhaps a broom) by a large white man.
My instinct also tells me that because of the dog’s inherited poorly-aligned knees, he experienced a lot of pain when he fully bent them to sit or lie down or even to use his weight equally on all fours. So he was probably considered a ‘bad’ dog for being hesitant to sit and lie down. In an effort to relieve himself of the pain in his back end, he pitched his body weight forward, which resulted in a constant forward momentum which made him seem like a ‘hyperactive’ dog because he couldn’t sit or be still.

He was finally abandoned at about eight months of age. He was tied to an outdoor staircase railing near the waterfront in Seattle in the middle of August. No one knows how long he was there before someone finally called, but by the time the local animal shelter picked him up, his ribs, hipbones and vertebrae were clearly visible.

He was in the stressful environment of being locked up in the animal shelter for about five days, during which time he simultaneously caught a respiratory infection and was discovered by me. 

When I saw him, he stared at me and those beautiful eyes won me over. He was exotically striped like a Bengal tiger and was one of the more beautiful dogs I had seen; especially amongst the ones available from the shelter.

I approached him and he growled at me, but I trusted that I could win him over with patience. 
I had been reading a lot of Cesar Milan so I knew how to approach and to be patient, quiet and calm. Since he had been picked up rather than surrendered, the shelter’s policy was to hold him for five days to give the original owner the opportunity to claim him. Each of those days, I came back to see the dog I had named River. They wouldn’t let me take him out of the cage, but I went to his cage and squatted down so we could socialize through the bars. His feeding toy had rolled under the gate, out of his reach, so I made sure he saw me pick it up and toss it back inside. He cautiously came over to chew on it some more but it slipped out of his mouth and rolled under the cage door again. This happened about four or five times during my visit with him, and I think that was the beginning of his trust for me.

THE PARADE OF REGIMES

Having gone into this with the utmost confidence that Cesar had taught me how to “Be the Pack Leader”,  I was quickly disavowed of that notion. River didn’t like being told to “Shht!” and would bite the finger that I held up as a sign of my disapproval. For all the reasons I’ve previously stated, I soon discovered that I had what I’d call a hyperactive, or ‘exuberant’ dog. He wasn’t keen on being submissive to a pack leader and immediately tore holes in Cesar Milan’s philosophies, much to my chagrin. The impression I got was that my dog was different than most and couldn’t be helped by Cesar’s Way. It was a difficult thing to accept, but was the only way I could explain River’s non-compliance.

So I sought out help through a different avenue. I found a school that used only Positive Reinforcement and food. I learned from them about drives and was advised that his hyperactivity was due to his boredom. So my task was to stimulate his mind with obedience ‘party tricks’. In all fairness, most of the tricks had practical purposes; for example, I taught River to “Spin” on command, which he took to with gusto. Now, if he gets tangled up in his leash or the seatbelt in the car, I’m grateful for his knowing what I mean by “spin”.
In order to address the dog’s other drives, I was advised to make him work for all of his food and to give up the notion of a ‘food bowl’. So I got him lots of puzzle toys that I could hide food in and make him work to get it out. I also made sure that he had plenty of expensive toys for chewing on, tugging on and tearing apart. I believed that making sure the dog’s drives were satisfied was the key to our happiness. It didn’t really do much to address River’s growing tendency to lunge at dogs in a way that wasn’t conducive to healthy play and to express fear for that certain profile of man I described above.  The trainers couldn’t really offer me any real solutions to those problems but just kept insisting that the more I satisfied his drive, the better he would be. It wasn’t working.  I was playing all the right games, but again, the impression I was left with by this system was that River was broken.

I tried outfitting him with a nose-lead harness to keep him at bay while we went on our walks. And like the other methods, it worked to a degree and didn’t really seem to be changing the problem, but more keeping it under control. There was never a time during any of these training sessions, or in my experiments with different walking protocols and apparatuses, that I felt like River was getting better. They offered a certain level of distraction and/or a harnessing him in, but nothing felt transformative.  I knew as soon as I let go of him, he’d revert to his old self.

I finally searched specifically for help for aggressive dogs and found a guy who specialized in the “killer breeds” and especially in curbing aggressive behavior. I was intrigued and desperate so I adopted a third philosophy that I later learned to call the European Method. This was a very heavy-handed approach using strict commands and lots of severe corrections. We switched River’s neckwear once again and this time he was in metal prongs. The trainer assured me that when River was walking calmly that the collar felt like a neck massage, but that when he walked out of formation, the correction I gave him mimicked a bite-like correction he’d get from his own mother.

River took to this regime remarkably quickly and it seemed to be straightening him out. I thought I had finally found the answer. Part of me felt bad that it had to be such a violent solution, but by this time, I was happy just to have my desired outcome; a dog that wasn’t dangerous.

In retrospect, I can see that much of my fear was imagined. I was worried a great deal about what could possibly happen, even though the reality was that 90% of the time, he was a perfect (albeit high-strung and exuberant) dog.

While initially, it seemed like this European technique was going to work on River, it was clear that he was still not transformed. His interest in other dogs was still as intense and maybe even growing. But I had the tools to keep everything under control. All I had to do was repeatedly ‘bite’ him on the neck and reprimand him until he obeyed me by ignoring his impulses. Sounds really healthy, right?

Even his desire to walk calmly at my side wasn’t growing. This technique became a constant battle including at least four corrections on every city block. It was no kind of relationship for us, even if it was effective. It didn’t feel like a good long-term solution, so I was still searching for another answer.

I hired more experts. I read book after book and talked to so many people. But it never seemed like anyone’s advice worked for us. It felt like all of the dog books were talking about normal dogs and my River was a special case. I was feeling more and more isolated and desperate because I had a feeling that River wasn’t broken even though all evidence pointed to that.

Many times, I reached the end of my rope and wanted to give up, but my pride and a nagging feeling that there was nothing wrong with River kept me going, despite bleak prospects.

In the meantime, River and I had developed some games together. He would growl and snarl and make horrible guttural sounds while wrestling with me and simultaneously tugging, pushing and chewing on a rope. We’d also tear apart stuffed animals and he’d pull all the insides out. I usually played these games in my studio, often before I exercised so he’d be worn out and leave me alone, or sometimes on rainy days when I didn’t feel like going on a walk. And then, there were days that were perfectly sunny and nice but that I didn’t feel like girding myself for the battle of wills that our walks had become.


One day, after some particularly vexing River moment inspired a new search for help, I came across an online course called “How to Speak So Your Dog Will Listen”. This intrigued me and eventually led to introducing me to our fourth regime; Natural Dog Training (NDT).

NATURAL DOG TRAINING
I went through the course and read some books by Kevin Behan, the creator of NDT, and was brought to tears over and over again as it finally felt like someone was talking about River! This new technique fully explains every quirky behavior that River exhibited and offers a way to address not only his frenetic energy, but his aggressiveness. He wasn’t broken or crazy at all. He was perfectly normal and responding to his lifelong imprinting as any dog would do.

River responded immediately to the techniques employed and I loved them too. Every one of them seemed clearly satisfying to River. I didn’t have to tell him to do anything once I showed him what I was after; he was eager to do everything because it was based on understanding his basic animal instinct and learning how to channel it.

The NDT protocols required a shift in my understanding of dogs. So it took me quite a number of months to fully step into it. But once I let go of my old beliefs and fully embraced the new, it felt so right. Not only was every nuance of River’s behavior suddenly perfectly normal and explainable, but there was a simple way of helping him make better choices.

Simple is not always easy. The hardest part of the technique for me was to wrap my head around what a dog really does and doesn’t need. Most of what we’re taught in America about loving our dogs is not actually good for the dog, but only designed to satisfy the human. Dogs are emotional, which is why we connect to them, but unlike humans, dogs are not intellectual. Since they are so intellectually blank it is very easy for us to project all manner of human-like qualities upon them. But, as I had discovered, any time we apply human thinking processes to the behavior of a dog, we’ll run into problems and inconsistencies. 

I stepped into loving the animal in my dog with NDT about a month ago and have already been delighted to see not only immediate shifts in his general demeanor and some positive meetings with other dogs and strange men, but I can also finally actually see that this is having a positive effect on the dog. For the first time, I feel like we’re getting to the problem at its source and not just sloppily going after behaviors and hoping for the best.

And a large part of the problem is from me. River has been stimulated and challenged his whole life. Most dogs would be able to handle it, but I feel like in his case, until recently, he was never allowed to just “be” a dog. He was always being ‘trained’ for one thing or another, and when he wasn’t being trained, was being stimulated by excited humans drawn to what we could easily project as an exuberant life expression. The games that I had developed with him were clearly frying him out, and he was never, ever left alone. In short, I took a nervous, fearful dog and piled three years of stimulation and stress on top of that. 

Had we continued on the path, his behavior would have gotten worse and worse until … Well luckily, we don’t have to go there.

OUR FUTURE TOGETHER
I have put River on a rehabilitation program that includes a refiguring of what sort of games we play, and a lot of quiet down time in his crate. Locking him in his crate for long periods of the day will teach him that he can remain motionless and that he doesn’t have to react to every shift in the room. We can be together through the bars. Both of us have to come to terms with that in the next several months. I envision that at some point, I won’t need to lock him in, but by that time he will be choosing to remain in the crate as it is the most relaxing way to enjoy the happenings of the family. Letting him roam free is effectively increasing his energetic charge, which is the opposite of what I want. I want him less charged, more relaxed, grounded and in touch with his body. 

His anxiety is evidenced by the sounds he makes and the way he attempts to push himself out of the crate. It may seem to be cruel, or it may resemble punishment, but it is out of my love for him that I give him the opportunity to finally face those demons and express them, rather than continue to thrust reflexively, escaping and not dealing with them. He’ll eventually express all of that bottled up emotion and come to terms with the reality that it is a much better choice to be calm in the crate.

Simply the act of crating him most of the day had a far-reaching effect. Within 48 hours, I was walking him and was surprised to pass right by another dog with barely a reaction from River. Usually, I’d brace for a battle or have to call all of my high-tech training techniques into action, but never before had the issue just not presented itself in this way.

We’ve also adjusted our ‘game time’ to incorporate skills that he lacks. He has never had the opportunity to learn to absorb and soften his energy. So my games now all involve rewarding him for choosing to stay put, to lie down and collect himself, and to roll over and present his belly to me. And not in a submissive fearful way but in a confident, sensual, receptive way. Once he’s comfortable enough with these new games (better stated, once these new games have forged a neurological groove deeper than the old games) he’ll be able to use these skills in his interactions with other dogs and humans.

Any rehab program is going to require a bit of discomfort. And this is no exception. I’m asking my friends to ignore him until I can better articulate the intricacies of how to best interact with him. And the longer we remain on our new spartan regime, the better he’ll be able to handle the energy people bring to him.

Kevin seems to think that River will respond quickly and within six to nine months, I’ll forget I ever even had the problems with him I thought I was having. And for the first time since I’ve started working with River, I actually believe it. 




HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Things to keep in mind regarding River (and all dogs):

—Nothing is thought. Everything is an emotional reaction.



—Prolonged eye contact is a direct challenge and not polite. 



—Touching and affection is how humans show love; not dogs. Dogs socialize by doing work together, not by making each other the center of attention.

—Be quiet. Imagine if you were trying to pet a dog and it was continually barking at you. Wouldn’t it put you on edge a little bit?  This is what it’s like when you talk to your animal. The animal kingdom is largely silent. Dogs communicate more by gesture and body language than by sound.

—A wagging tail means excited stimulation. It is not correct to assume it means ‘happy’.

—Growling means “I’m unsure!” It is not a threat; it is a request to stop what you’re doing.

—If you want to express affection to a dog, then stand side-by-side with it and let it smell you. If the tail wags, or if they press their side against you, they’ve invited a bit of petting, but a few strokes is good. After that, it becomes more than casual affection and can be confusing to a dog.

—If you are afraid of a dog, do not run away; that will attract it to you. Fear and motion are like magnets to an animal’s natural predatory instincts. Instead ignore the dog, stand still and tall or try to appear confident as you walk away. If you need the dog to run away, stare into its eyes as you stomp your feet, raise your arms up and yell “BOO!” Your appearing big and menacing will trigger their prey instinct and they will scurry away.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Quantum Canine Downloads

The following are snippets of text conversations I had with Zeke back at home each night after a full day of Quantum Canine Natural Dog Training with Kevin Behan.

sustained Eye contact builds stress and gives him an easy way out of his problems.

I have devoted our time together to strengthening his comfort level with me. I have trained him very well to give me his energy. My thinking was that I didn’t want his unbridled energy going off on strangers. Since I was familiar with him, and I knew his intentions weren’t violent, I could let him come at with me with his full intensity. And have developed a groove for him. He gets a charge from something in the outside world, and instead of bolting away, or toward the object of attention, he would turn around and give all of his energy to me in the form of a snarling, growling, tooth gnashing, frenzied pushing into my hands. So if we stop participating in it and don’t encourage it, it will help him solve his own problems.

    Kevin says in one year, if we keep doing our work with him, that he will approach a stranger and expect a Rubadub from him.

    Rivers snout is red and swollen. He was in his crate all day today from 9 AM until 6 PM with two breaks (one to do the work and the other for just some brief playtime. And I guess he was pushing the door of the crate with his nose the whole time so now it's very irritated
    The work ahead of us is simply being consistent with the five core exercises,
emphasizing the ones that teach him how to collect himself and absorb energy, and a few other select exercises that will help build his ability to stay grounded and connected despite any distraction or outside stimulation. 

The core exercises we need to focus on are:
RUBADUB - sensualizing his body, softening his tension and connecting his front to his rear. No resp;onse is required from him. Ideally, he will relax and soften. Eventually, he will roll onto his back and present his belly in a ‘sensual opening’.   This trains him to be soft and to take in the energy of another.

COLLECT - whenever giving him food, we use body language to get him into a ‘down’ position. And vibrate an open hand full of food in front of his face. If he reached for the food it flies away like a bird. When he settles down, and ‘collects’ himself, the food flies into his mouth. This trains him not to chase his food but that if he does nothing, it comes to him and he gets what he wants.

BITE AND CARRY - Ideally, we stimulate him with a toy and trigger his deepest anger and internal stress. Then he’ll put the energy of that emotion into a strong bite of the toy. At that moment, we run, side by side, with the chew toy an object of attention between us. I”m holding one end, and he the other. River currently has a short attention span and drops the toy after a few feet. The longer we can get him to carry it, the more he builds up his ability to remain driven and composed during high energy moments.

BARK - a bark takes the place of a bite. It also feels in their bodies like running would, so it is very satisfying to release a low, metered bark. Encouraging River to do so will give him an outlet for stress as it builds up, and will give him a safe alternative to needed to bite, when those feelings come up. We’ve spent so much energy stifling his bark that we’ll have to have patience as we retrain him that now we do want him to release it. His emotional well-being is reliant on his ability to communicate those inner feelings in a safe and grounded way. Since River doesn’t feel safe nor grounded, at this time, he cannot access the confident bark.


    Kevin says "you're in the army now!”
Zen Walking:
    We use a high-collar. This is a cinch chain way up close to his jaw. He will have about a foot of lead with the human end held directly above his head. Anytime he strays even a little bit from formation, a sharp upward tug will remind him. It feels to him like he makes himself uncomfortable when he breaks formation. So he learns really quickly to stay at our side. 
My work is to slow down and walk with a grounded purpose. My tendency is to rush, and to mentally be a block ahead of myself. When I walk zen; in the moment, measured, centered and grounded. I am like a post that he feels the stability of and can relax and ground into. 
Kevin suggested finding a long flight of stairs and practicing walking up them slowly and in “heel:. I don't think Kevin knows that we live in a townhouse so we might be able to just do it at home but I think it might be fun to go out and find a nice big staircase and practice outside too, eventually.

Rivers not supposed to get excited when I come home.  When he's well-adjusted he should just barely lift his head as if to say "oh you're home?” Being in the crate while he’s alone will help a great deal with that. If he’s not contained in this safe den, he’ll vibrate all over the house, building up a charge that we see as excitement when we get home.
           
   

    No more feeding inside.
I'll feed him only on outings. And only for doing his exercises.

    Kevin says we are frying his circuits by not treating him like an animal
    I also have a new response to when River gets worked up by a dog out the window, instead of pushing to relieve his stress. (We’ve already successfully established a very strong groove for him to give me his energy.) which isn’t solving his issue. It’s just directing the symptom. The new response now is “Stop that. We don’t do that here!”     Technically, whenever he is at home he should be in his crate. That and  the ‘attention diet’ will likely address the window and balcony problem by reducing the level to which his is stimulated in the home environment.
If needed, we can set up a box near the window or on the balcony. It will give him a sense of grounding and security so he won’t need to project fear into passing dogs. He should be able to lie and watch the world pass by without getting reactive.

    One of the healthiest things that we can do for the dog is to “take him for granted.” We are either taking him for granted or spoiling him and obviously spoiling him isn't working.
        Now that River’s gotten really good at pushing and he knows that he can give his energy to me it doesn't have to be immediately after the trigger, in fact we can give him a release every few days or only once a week and it will release all of the charges that he has built up over the week. And the longer we consistently do this work, the better he builds his capacity to handle more and more charge before needing a release.
Zeke:
    Funny, I remember looking forward to a time when we wouldn't constantly have him as the center of attention. That time has come :)


    JAG: Yes, Ignore him and take him for granted.
        Like, you know, a dog.

    BOX:
    A box is something he sits on top of. Like a perch or a precipice. Remember the video we sent from Mosier Oregon wherein River was sitting on a rock as I panned the camera past him. That rock was his BOX. Did you notice how calm he was. He was looking around, relaxed, taking it all in. Think of a lion tamer and how the lions are all sitting on top of the boxes. It gives them a base to ground into. And the elevation and the sense of accomplishment required to get up, make it a good feeling place.

All of the "affection" and "attention" are really just for US and do nothing for him but upset and confuse him

Dogs are social. But socialization for them means to ‘do work together’, or to enjoy a ‘common thing” together. It isn’t to enjoy each other. This is why affection doesn’t mean the same thing to them as it does to us.


    His poor Little snout is completely raw now. I hope he figures out in the next three days that pressing on the bars is not going to get him out of that crate
    But you know what? He's drawn blood on me so many times in the past that I do not feel sorry for him one bit
    As Kevin would say "sometimes life on this earth includes a little bleeding"
        Unfortunately I think it's a matter of river weighing the pain of being confined and immobilized in the crate with the pain on his nose and I think the pain in his nose will always be less
    Kevin says he may eventually figure out that he's wasting his energy and he may not
Zeke:
    Nah I think he'll figure it out.
   
JAG:
    The dogs place in the life of the human is to reconnect the human with their internal animal brain. So not only are we spoiling and confusing river by treating him like our son but we're also blocking ourselves from receiving his gift
    I've noticed (and Kevin mentioned this today) that, in general, the most well behaved and  adjusted dogs are the ones that are not "trained" but just left alone, literally and figuratively.
Zeke:
    I believe that. River definitely has been spoiled.
JAG:
    And I need to spend more time out of the house away from him.
   

    Well I was definitely at a breaking point today where I was once again seriously considering finding river another home
2066191366:
    Oh no, really?
fit420warrior@aol.com:
    the whole ordeal didn't seem worth it anymore it's not what I signed on for it's not what I wanted it's not what I'm into and I was ready to give up
During the Q&A session I asked "are there instances where a dog and an owner are just not a match?"
        He answered that sometimes a person is not prepared to do what it takes to handle a dog but that definitely there is no such thing as a match for a dog and a person nor a bad dog
I need to remember that if I was willing to have him killed for his behavior, why am I not willing to isolate him or cause him a little bit of constructive pain?

    Sounds like we have a lot of work, even if it's largely pulling back affections. and having much more clear boundaries for him
    I hope it isn't a lot of work as much as it is a lot of consistency to little bits of work
    And also shifting our perspective of the dog human relationship
Zeke:
    Yeah, I think that'll be my biggest challenge ... To pull back on babying him. I don't think the lap on the floor is such a good idea.
JAG: exactly   
    I think once we get the crate upstairs it can substitute for his need for your lap


JAG:
    The sore on Rivers nose doesn't seem to be any worse today. In fact, it looks like it is healing. So maybe he's learning not to push on the bars a little?
    hes still howling and barking but less than yesterday and the day before
    So it's not like he's not panicking he's just not pressing on the bars anymore
   

    Dogs are all Id
pure energy and flow,
    All attraction and momentum.
    Everything comes down to the drive to connect and the equilibrium between Hunger and Balance.
   
All dogs want is to flow with us.
    River’s definitely been damaged before we met him and Kevin's guess was (exactly what we thought) that someone hit him in the head with their hands
    It's maybe sad for you, but he doesn't "care". He just feels the association. When he sees a hand coming toward his head, he feels the imprinted memory of the pain and reacts to it. So touching him in the head, even softly, could be causing him pain. He has no reasoning for his actions. His energy is following the deepest imprints
   

    Park Play (getting under the charge)
        Today, Kevin was teaching me how to play in the park in a way that doesn’t overstimulate River or further exacerbate his tension. The way I had been playing with him in the past was feeding him more and more of what he already has, tense, ungrounded excitement. So today, we were playing keep away with River to build up his desire for the toy. and then every once in a while I was asking river to jump up on me, to ensure he was staying grounded in me as we upped his intensity level.
   
    Then I would say good boy and I'd feed him
    And that wasn't an exercise to fix him but Kevin was trying to find out more about Rivers tolerance threshold.
I asked about the crate and he suggested getting a box but he also said that sometimes you can get crates that make good boxes as well and I was thinking if you wouldn't mind him getting on top we could even put him on top of the crate

no-nonsense high collar Zen walking
We march, or stroll, our pace. We take him to his special little place and then we decide how much leash to give him and then become a post. and then we “Army” it back home and he lives inside the house.


He only gets food by doing the exercises. And that's always outside

    If i didn't stop doing what I had been doing river would just get more and more aggressive and fearful
    (God, when I think back about all of the wrestling and all of the snarling and all of the indoor tugging)
Zeke:
    Yeah, something wasn't right about that. I'm sure I have my bad habits too. fit420warrior@aol.com:
    No greetings at the door
    Zeke:    Yeah I remember hearing about not greeting at the door before ... That's a HARD one.
JAG:
    I think that one's more important even then the lap sitting
       
    Rivers paws are getting red and sore and he has a raw spot on one if his ears from the pinch chain. He spends his evenings licking his wounds. Its a rough week for him, but he’s basically in detox/rehab. He’ll have to go through the wall of fire before he comes out on the other side.


JAG:
    We get so dirty i on that farm. yesterday when we got back to the motel I took a shower and then I took him in the bathtub and dumped some soapy water on him
    Today when I took my shower he peaked in the door and then ran to the other side of the room so I got the message that he didn't want to be doused with soapy water again
    Instead, after my shower and drying off I used my towel to give him a little sponge bath and he loved it! it was like mawing and Rubadub and getting clean all at the same time and making a smacking sound to replicate the experience of being licked clean by his mother. He was in a little bit of bliss and his tail was wagging. His tail was wagging by the time we were done.        

Oh you'll love this: the best bite and carry execution would be for river to CALMLY carry a toy back from his little area all the way home and not let go
    But that only happens because the toy begins as an object in common.
    So it must be used in a push and tug of war
    It is point of tension between you as you flow together. A piece of work that you can do together.
    And then, in a continued flow together, walking all the way home (he carries it). To him it feels exactly like going on a hunt, killing a prey and taking it back home. It satisfies him immensely.
        in order to build the excitement of the object in common, show him that you want it by playing with it and then he’ll want it.
    Play a little tug-of-war let him win
Switch the collar real fast (if needed) and walk home with it in his jaws. Good boy!
   

    Today I learned the wall technique. Which they call "panic down"
    It was horrible to watch.
    River was gasping and choking
    And struggling and panicking, which is the point
    It was all good in the end, because he "solved a balance problem" and attributed his salvation to lying down on the top of the platform. And since I congratulate him when it’s all over, he credits me for the success. He is always so chilled out after that struggle. It “took the fight out of him” enough so that Kevin could clip his nails with no protests.
    After that, he was mellow enough that he got to play with another pitbull.
    He was so chilled. She couldn't even get hjm to play. He seemed a little bit paralyzed with fear, but was handling it pretty well.
    He was avoiding her without getting upset
        She was sniffing his butt
    Jumping up and humping him
    And bouncing up and pushing him with her front paws. Which is what a dog should do when they want to play.

    River didn’t revert to his old habit of biting growling and attacking, but instead sort of hung out, letting her do her thing, without much a response at all. He is completely stunted in his development and doesn’t remember how to properly play with other dogs. All of the exercises we’re going to be doing with him are specifically designed to give him capacity and resources for playing with dog. So we socialize him to other dogs before he even meets them. Dogs won’t socialize him. At this point, they’ll only strengthen the groove he knows. So we help him build a different groove, until our new groove is deeper than his old one. He will always follow the deeper groove. But this new way will be easy for him to adjust to because ultimately it feels much better to him. It will satisfy him, rather than leave him frustrated and charged. 

    As they played, there was a moment when they both stood motionless for a while. Kevin stomped on the ground to startle them. He calls it a ‘collapse’ and it was a way of gauging where they were at. If they were close to breaking, or holding back aggression, the collapse could have brought it to the surface in the form of a reactive collision. But they were both nonreactive, so he said it was great. They weren’t revved up.
    River sniffed her genitals while she was humping him and Kevin said that was a great sign that he was going along with the game. He looked a bit wild-eyed and confused, but was still going along with it all. It was all so new to him, even though it felt really good, he was unsure.
    Mostly River was playing in the pool. Looking around.
    And he'd look into my eyes to escape the situation. He looked wild eyed and locked onto me, but I’d look away so he would have to find his own solutions.
   
All of this work is cumulative.
    He's not "fixed" but he's getting better, and will continue to get better if we
    do the exercises and stop the coddling and stimulating behaviors that make him worse.

    I go through moments where I feel like I don't know anything and then have moments where I feel like I'm on top of it. But Kevin says to trust the confusion and use it as a reminder to be in the present moment and in flow with River.
       
    He says that dog behavior follows the exact same rules as thermodynamics
    So we’re talking about conductivity, reaction, absorption, thrust, charges, sparks,
    Negative to positive, grounding, magnetic, electric….
    But all behavior is energetically based. None of it is thought. None of it is cognitive. Kevin even says dogs don't realize that they're killing an animal when they're killing it. they only respond to the balance of energy in a way that nature has established for them.  Following that drive is what feeds them. 

most commonly held behavioral beliefs about dogs leave a lot of behavior unexplained and mysterious
    So if a theory is wrong 1% of the time then the theory is wrong we need a new theory. For a theory to be right it has to be right in 100% of situations that should explain everything fully
    Kevin's explanation of things is the only thing I've come across that actually does explain everything completely and fully. Unfortunately it is a bit deep and heavy.
    With Kevin's theory river is not insane he's just reacting to his early imprinting
    They don't even have cognitive memory they have an emotional battery. So they can react to things that they have sense memory of


    Anytime you try to attribute a human thought process to dog behavior you're going to run into problems
    We do the core exercises to prime him with behavior that he can use with other dogs and people
    We train him how to act with other dogs we don't socialize him by introducing him to other dogs
    We need to get him to the point where he can trust us enough to flop over when he feels a Rubadub upcoming. It’ll take a lot of reprograming because he’s so used to being ‘Taken Down by JAG’ :(
Zeke:
    Sounds like a lot of work and patience
JAG:
It's no more work than just living with him now!! Lol but it's definitely a different kind of work and should become less and less necessary

    We played hide and seek today —that was so much fun. That's something the three of us can do together. 

    Toy in a Tree (ready…)
    I go out and hide one of his toys in a tree and then come back and get him and then we go for a walk and then when we come up to the tree I say ready which makes him very attentive to me because that means I know where the prey is and then I tap on a tree and grab the toy out of it we tug with it a little bit, he wins and he carries it all the way home.
    And all of this stuff takes the place of his “need to run free”
    All of his hunting instinct is satisfied there. And it’s something we accomplish together So he doesn't need to root around every bush and sniff every tree and run around in fields, and it builds the strength of our relationship by doing work together.
    Currently, River doesn't have a long attention span so he tends to drop the toy but we will build his drive up to where he can bring it all the way home. So it's probably best to start with trees that are closer to home.
        Every drive comes from their stomach (hunger) trying to overcome their shoulders to find balance with their brain (balance). River often doesn't feel the back half of his body, which is why he is so often moving forward and doesn’t seem to stop or settle at all. 
The GOOD NEWS:
this means we need to sensualize the back half of his body. In particular his belly and groin. He can benefit from a lot of sensual rubbing and massaging in his loins. So all of the need that we have to physically connect with him can go into practicing the Rub a Dub and the Sensualizing of his Hindquarters.
   

    Also. Sorry. No more lap time.   

    The hellacious death defying thing on the wall… (PANIC DOWN)
    It stuck! So he didn’t need it again today. Now it's only necessary occasionally. Like maybe every couple of months. If he builds up a lot of charge and seems to get out of his body, we’ll give him a Balance Problem to Overcome, and it will instantly put him back into his body on the ground.


    I learned another good exercise that's very mellow. River likes it and it can be done for hours with no ill effect.
    It's called ORBIT.
With him on a pedestal, I slowly walk around him, reminding him to ‘stay’. He’ll follow me with his eyes, but not move. Then, when I’m directly in front of him, I might walk away, thirty feet, or even more. And I’’ll show him that I have a handful of food. He stays put. I call out “Reaadddyyy???” And he goes into alert, focused on me, but remains calmly grounded. At that point, I will either call out “STAY” Or call his name. If I do the former, he must stay put and I run the food to him and in response to the latter, he jumps off the pedestal and runs to me to get his food.


    The biggest hardest thing I think is going to be putting him on an attention diet when he's at home
Think of what Cesar always used to say "no touch, no talk, no Eye contact "
    I witnessed how powerful the sound of my voice is in stimulating river. It's surprising
    If I simply ask Kevin a question while River is doing some work it will totally throw a wrench into the works
    And also all of that training that I did with River to make eye contact with me is now backfiring. River uses eye contact with me as a way to avoid dealing with real stress in the real world. So it's sort of helping him avoid full development. So I will be avoiding eye contact with him. It's okay to look at him it's okay to make eye contact but definitely not sustain it
    Kevin says in nine months we won't be able to remember that he was ever like this
        Assuming we do all the work and take away all of the leaks
    What we are expecting ourselves to do is really not that much. It's just a matter of relearning a couple of different routines and sticking to them
   

    Oh I forgot to mention he hardly barked at all in the crate today and he was in the same amount of time as before. The difference today: I covered it entirely with a blanket so it was dark inside!

    River pissed on the floor last night.
        I practiced one of the moves that he showed us. I practiced it three times. By the third time he crouched down, was quivering and I noticed a spreading puddle forming underneath him
    Kevin says some of the work that we're doing is reaching down into his deepest inner stress. He also said that we may expect some puppy behavior to temporarily return as he rehabilitates. At some very young age he was crippled and his development was stunted. So he will be reverting to that age occasionally as we get into it. So while it was sort of horrible to watch it was indeed a good thing to have happen
    With River the only time I think we will need to give him a BITE or get him angry is when he gets restless. You know when he's in that mood that we don't know what to do with him? I can just hear Kevin saying "I'm going to give him a bite"
    In other words when he's pissing us off we get to smack him. In the controlled natural dog training manner, of course.
Zeke:
    You'll have to show me that, cuz I have a hard time  imagining it.
JAG:
    The idea is to rile up his pent-up anger and directed at the toy so he can release it. The anger is already there it's all backed up so it's a good thing to smack him so he can get angry and release it safely. He does a great job bottling it up but he can only do it for so long.
    Imagine a heavy burlap pillow at the end of a rope. River is chained up to a post. I stand facing him and start slowly swinging it toward his feet. Gradually I’ll start getting more and more aggressive with it until I might be smacking him on the side with it with a loud thump. But at some point he's going to reach a point and get so angry that he's going to bite down hard on that pillow and try to kill it. that's when we run together and hopefully, he carries the pillow with us.
    Then we tug a  little— we push-- I give him a little massage— give him some food —say good boy and we come home happy as clams.
    Then he doesn't have the pent-up stress anymore, so he can be relaxed.
   
What's going to help make him better with dogs is to let him return to being a dog and not be so fried from his home life.

    Kevin relates everything to physics so he says that Rivers circuits are fried
    He also says that dogs are amazingly tolerant
    Resilient
    Especially his breed type
    I'm sure you've seen pictures of dogs that have been tortured or starved or dehydrated and they're just near death and then turn around six months later they're happy go lucky dogs.
    So keeping it in perspective, River can honestly go a day without eating if need be. He can be cold for a while if need be. We have to remain diligent about holding the proper perspective about River and decisions regarding him. He will be fine. In fact, he’ll be better off for this period of what might seem to us like suffering. He just needs to go through it so we can help him reach his balance.
Zeke:
    Think of him as a dog, basically.
JAG:
    Yes.  Exactly. For HIS sake if not for our own.
By the way that scenario that I described above, ’giving him a bite’, Kevin says is all the exercise he needs all day!
    Not that that would be something we do every day. But if we do it, it’s all he needs that day. For daily exercise, about 10 to 15 minutes working on the core skills is all he needs.
Zeke:
    That can be managed!
JAG:
    Easily
    Doing too much is easy too. That’s what I’ve been doing for three years. Now he gets a break from me.
    Kevin also prescribed alone walks for me. He says two or three times a day I need to get out and take a walk without river. :(
   
    Kevin says the purpose of a human and dog relationship is not companionship the purpose is to do work together.
   
    I'm pretty sure the worst of it is over. Which is good because I don't think I can manage to hold as much pressure on him as he's had on him over the last five days. And poor guy he's completely knockered.  he deserves a break.
    He's gonna be very glad to be on a long drive tomorrow.
    Kevin says dogs love riding in the car because it gives them a sense of flow which is the bottom line for them. Flow is everything to them    The only reason the puppies throw up is because they're receiving more stimulation then they can digest
    Had an epiphany about rivers last human bite.
    I had just told him to Say Hi, a command meaning to tap the palm of his hand with his nose, as the guy approached with his hand out to shake mine. (so it was a bit higher than a “Say Hi” hand placement). The guy was vibrating energetically (like prey) due to a heated skirmish he’d just been in before arriving. River didn't intend to bite. He simply obeyed me, but couldn't handle the guy’s charge. The connection to his hand was precise but too much for him. The bite was an attempt to bring the relationship to the ground.
    The guy later told me that River’s bite was actually successful. Because It brought him back to the ground and back into his own body. He was thankful for it!
Zeke:
    Huh ...    Amazing that he could acknowledge that.
JAG:
    And I think it's significant that the guy who passed by us on the day River and I got home was walking away from us when River went to him, also to pull him down. I think River was just experiencing the human leaving and wanted us all to stay together.
    He didn't charge at all as the guy was walking toward us only when he was leaving us. And it was a big charged moment going on for all of us. If you’ll remember the guy seemed to be having a heated conversation in his cell phone. Big reaction. Again not a violent intent, but the intent was to bring the energy back to balance on the ground.
    All three interactions River has had with a human have been with big stocky white men exhibiting a lot of energy and movement.
Zeke:
    So you think you can recognize avoid and redirect this sort if thing in the future?
    JAG:
    Well the better I get at understanding how Rivers energy works the more I can predict how he's feeling in each moment and the better I will be at avoiding inflammatory situations
Zeke:
    It sounds like you have the knowledge and the tools ... Now just keep up the practice :)
JAG:
    Yup. and if I slip, River will remind me.
    And you know what's great? He's never wrong. The dog cannot do wrong in this model. He’s always doing the exact right thing. We never again EVER have to say that he’s bad.  This model of dog behavior explains it all with perfect logic. We just need to keep the model in mind and focus on how River’s feeling. That’s more important than what he’s doing. To him, what he’s feeling is all that matters. What he’s doing is almost not even under his control. He flows, non cognitively through nature.
    We just rubadub'd
Zeke:
    Aw nice.