Fang Shway

Many modern enthusiasts claim that feng shui is the practice of arranging objects (such as furniture) to help people achieve their goals — whatever they might be. To the traditional ones, feng shui is of great value in choosing a place to live and finding a burial site. To the green thumbers, it’s of value in agriculture.

I define Fang Shway as my own derivative:
(Fang)The part used to bite + (Shway)That is a Sure Way when dealing with dogs = Deeper Understanding Towards Developing The Dog(s) of Your Dreams.

In the world of figuring out dog behavior, which neatly combines both my vocation and avocation, I am playing around with my developing 6 Pillars of Dog Training Wisdom and today I’m working specifically with Pillar Number 5: Management. My sub-definition for that is tangibles — things you can touch. Thing that you can touch that help manage a dog in this case. While you’re training it. The obvious ones are those specifically made to manage dogs — collars, harnesses, head halters, leashes, gates, crates, tethers, etc. But I mean it to include things like doors, walls, rooms, cars, hedges, light poles, etc.

I noticed my 5 1/2 year old and youngest dog Bean developing an interesting dominance aggression around me with some of the regular visiting dogs to my home when they wanted to enter into an area of my living room where I was already seated. While there was no defined threshold like a doorway, there was definitely, upon observation, a particular place where the reactive growling would begin and it was usually at this invisible line of demarcation between a chair and couch of about 4 feet in width.

It didn’t escalate when the dog would enter the area, it never even escalated from one low and steady grrrrr when the dog was in that exact invisible spot and in fact would usually stop after the dog either left to go somewhere else in the house or fully entered the space to lay down and settle. Often the dog being growled AT would freeze in that location which is why the duration of the growl would go on for a bit. So it wasn’t about the dog BEING in the “inner” space, it was about the dog COMING INTO the space.

I started pairing treats (food or me petting him, both of which are high value to the boy) to Bean when he would ‘grrrr’ in a classical conditioning approach. This belief is that he would associate “good things” with the “visiting dog” at the threshold and ergo his growling would go away and be replaced by benign acceptance. But my more interesting challenge was to figure out the source and fix that.

Now the real feng shui experts will tell you first to eliminate your clutter, but that isn’t going to happen here. Not yet anyway. So I play around with my southwest (location in the house, not decorating theme!) based and cluttered living room by rearranging furniture. And with a drag here and a push there, I have changed the threshold to a wider range of at least 5 feet and can’t wait to see if this new look fixes Bean’s threshold issue with the future visiting dogs. Perhaps my scruffy spaniel, who I often tease as being the dullest pencil in my pack, is in fact a Fang Shway Master!

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