I have noticed recently that Decker has been going back and forth about growling.  I don't know exactly what is going on in his mind right now.  I had the plumber out for a repair, and Decker didn't growl at all.  I had the plumber feed Decker treats and a minute later, he was petting him.

Two days later, the plumber came over with his wife and a friend, to see all of my animals.  That must have been too much at once for Decker.  He was totally uncomfortable with having them here.  Every time that I heard a growl (3 of them), I submitted him, and he urinated.  I stayed outside with the guests in order to protect them, just in case.  After a couple of minutes, I handed the guests some treats for them to give to Decker.  

This was the most nervous that I have seen him since I got him.  Two days earlier, the plumber had petted him, and now he wasn't sure.  Treats were the icebreaker.  He started accepting them, and was a gentleman.  My guests were giving him commands for the treats.  I really liked this.  That is one strategy that I have used in the past with Kate.

When Kate was just about 6 months old, when she was recovering from her surgeries, a child frightened her.    She loved kids before that incident.  Sometimes it takes once and dogs can have trouble for a lifetime.  I have been working with her to not be afraid of kids for several years now.  I don't trust her, but I am now more relaxed with her around them.  I still seek the right kids to help her work through her fears.  Kids that are not afraid of dogs, and thus don't suck a dog in to wanting to defend themselves.  And throwing the ball for her and feeding her treats, was a break through for her.  Just recently, I saw her coming over several boys, to get attention from them.  

And at the same time, I work on me, needing to let go.  I can actually keep Kate in that fear state, by my own energy and lack of confidence in her.  So my dilemma, with both Kate and Decker,  I have to protect the human, first and foremost, then have to allow the dog to grow.  Now with Kate, she accepts older kids, but the toddlers, she is still leery of.  Decker still needs more work, exposure and discipline.  He needs lots of exposure to people, especially at the house, and corrected immediately when he growls.  I additionally think that sheepdog herding with him will raise his self-confidence, and allow him to be more accepting of other people.  

Sheepdog herding will actually do several things for Decker in addition to raising his confidence.  Sheepdog herding gives him a purpose, a job in life, what he was born to do, have a job.  It gives him structure and discipline in life, just what ALL dogs need.  And it gives him affection.  When he is out in the field sheepdog herding, and when he works nicely, he gets feedback from me.  That is affection.  A "good boy", "good job" or a smile and a pat are all affection.  When a dog's needs are met, their minds can't help but be balanced.  

That is my goal with Decker, to attain a balanced mind, and keep it there.

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