Saturday, April 17, 2010

Creating a Calm Space for Two Terrified Dogs

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A couple of new dogs, a shitzu and a small black and white spotted Chihuahua, arrived in a very terrified state at Social Tees shelter the day before yesterday, and are in a room in the back as it is more quiet, and is otherwise inhabited by a few very mellow cats. I asked if I could go back there and just see what could happen.

As I opened the door, the dogs ran out barking at me. I crouched down on the floor with my back to them, making myself very small. I stayed very still, mostly silent, only once in a while said something calming in a very soft voice. I didn't make eye contact, only watched in my periphery. They continued to run around and bark for a while, and I continued to stay still.

I have to say here, that I was putting myself at risk putting myself in such a low position, as these dogs could so easily bite me if they wanted to. I was purely following my intuition and fortunately this approach turned out to be very successful and there was never at any point even a threat of a bite from them.

Very gradually, the Chihuahua began to check me out. First he came up and gave me a sniff, then ran away. Then he came back and rubbed his nose against me, agan ran away. He did this a few times, each time making more body contact with me. The Shitzu kept his distance but watched everything the Chihuahua was doing and began to come closer. The barking subsided. Then the Chihuahua began rubbing himself against me like a cat, walking back and forth, rubbing himself, nose first and then body, against me. Little by little I began to do a few strokes on him with the back of my hand, then some abalone touches on his body, and before long he was nuzzling into me and I was doing TTouches pretty much anywhere on his body. In the first clip above, you see him sitting w/his back against me, and I am still not looking at him but doing TTouch on him as he faces away from me.

In the second clip, you see me doing more TTouch on the Chihuahua, and the Shitzu is spread out on the floor, playing around and generally looking much more relaxed than when I entered! I say in the second clip that I think the Chihuahua has a little trouble walking - that's not exactly accurate, he definitely can run around like crazy, but he seems a little stiff in his legs. I'm not sure how old he is, I'll have to check that out. When he gets more comfortable with me, I'll have to try some work on his legs as well as his body.

I didn't want to overwhelm them so I left the room after a while, but I did come back a couple of times to check in and do some more TTouch on the Chihuahua. I didn't want to push the issue with the Shitzu, I feel he will come to me when he is ready. The shelter owner went into the room later, and said that the dogs seemed to be really turning around. I look forward to working with them more!

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