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Day 3 of Dudley's rehabilitation. We find that one of the most productive things you can do in the early stages with a fear aggressive dog is...nothing.
Far too often us humans give in to the urge to try to interact with the dog right away, to try to shape and mold their behavior, and to convince them to engage with us. In our society, our idea of productivity is push push push. But dogs don't care about our societal beliefs, their lives are regulated by nature and instinct. Sometimes to allow for productivity, you have to cultivate an emptiness that can be filled.
Although it may seem like nothing, quite a lot is happening during this time. The dog is given the space to explore and become acquainted with his new environment. He sees that we as humans have heard and understood his message that he is not comfortable. He sees that we are respectful, that is ok to be nervous, and that we are willing to take the time to learn about him, as an individual with a rich emotional life. He is given to sovereignty to decide on his own when he is ready to engage with us, and when he is, we will be there.
This may all sound overly romantic, but trust me. We didn't always do it this way. After 10 years, and over a thousand rehabilitation cases, I can tell you that when we give the dog this space in the beginning, rest of the training process is entirely different. Or relationship to the dog is formed on a foundation of bedrock, and we have the rapport and leverage to influence their behavior and their choices in a far more dynamic way.
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