8.24.2011

Waterhole Rituals for Dogs

Kai and Buddha Water in Wheel barrow on hot summer day Ritual!
For those of you who don't know I am a Dog trainer as well as a Horseman. I may if fact have been working with dogs longer then horses.
I always saw the common ground between Horse and Dog Whispering from the beginning. Pack and Herd animals are not that far apart. So I easily applied the Dogmanship to horses and Horsemanship to dogs.

When I learned Carolyn Resnick's Waterhole Rituals, I immediately saw how to integrate them into my Dog Whispering approach.

First of all, We naturally Share our Territory with dogs because we share a house with them. With horses we have to go to the barn to Share Territory so it is not as easily done. This is why our Dogs bond to us so quickly.

Saying Hello is similar with dog as well with one exception. I don't put my hands out or my face toward a dog in greeting. I instead, read their body language and if they act like they would like to be approached I come closer. I am more likely to allow them to approach me first so I can see how to shape my Leadership with them(if they are not aggressive acting). Just like I would like a horse to initiate contact first in Sharing territory so I can shape my Leadership with them. If they are overly excited and jumping on me I set about making requests about how I would prefer them to be in my space and then praise them when they behave that way.

Now here's the interesting part which a lot of people don't teach their dogs which is so important in horses as well. In the WHR we learn that if we approach the horse, we should respect his wishes and feelings. And this is how I approach a dog as well, BUT dogs are not often taught this rule. They are allowed to go barreling up to or on anyone they meet and even any dog. This can start fights and can nurture unwanted aggression in dogs. This, to me is condoned and encouraged by a lot of people but I have the same rules with my dogs. If they are in my space they have to listen to my rules. Which means no jumping on me, no biting me (even if it's playful), and no growling or being possessive of territory I don't deem to be theirs. I feel also that is is respectful to always keep my dogs away from anyone and in a calm sit or stay until the person gives me permission to allow my dogs to approach. Sound like another WHR? What if the person is afraid of dogs or has allergies and can't touch them?

Taking territory is a useful exercise for dogs who are toy possessive or furniture possessive. Also if they run to the door of your house and bark you can claim the door area. I use claiming of areas quite often with my dogs.

Eye Contact seems to be important with all and every species. I know that if I can get and keep Eye Contact in my Dogs and horses, I can most likely Communicate with them and they will listen. When I lose Eye Contact I have a variety of ways to get it back.

Companion Movement is an easy one. In dogs we call in Heeling. If we have Magnetic connection, we will be able to work with our dogs well at Liberty or off leash!

Leading from behind works for moving reluctant dogs. I know that will sound familiar to anyone who has done this Ritual with their horse. It really helped me with my old Deaf and Blind dog to get him in and out of the house.

Liberty Dancing? Well that's a REALLY easy one with dogs! They are easy to Send and Draw! They love to run and play with us and I often dance with my dogs to music in my kitchen which I recently found out quite a few other people do too! So let's keep dancing with our dogs and try out the WHR's with your dog.
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