Whilst training in Canine Flow, I worked with a beautiful pointer called Dylan. He was on his living room floor, and as usual I had sat with him to do spiral work.
Spirals can be a hands-on or off technique but often when we are near their face, I make it hands off to gauge their response and the distance we need to work from in order for them to feel safe.
That day, he had allowed me to work around his muzzle, and then I proceeded to the top of his neck as usual. Hands off. Within a few moments, he let out a sound very much like a growl. I respectfully stopped. That was not like him. His owner advised he does make a sound similar to a growl when he is content and she felt it was that. I decided to communicate with him telepathically to say ‘if you don’t want me to continue this, then please growl again’, as I felt it was a growl.
So once again, hands off, I gently started the spirals. That sound again. Because I’m empathic, I felt the sound rather than went with the tone, and said to the lady I felt it was a growl and was stopping. We then focused under his chin to approach the area from a different angle, yet again, he growled. I stopped completely.
I asked the owner if he had done anything recently around his neck – you know, fallen off something ,etc. Apparently, he had clotheslined (wrestling term) his lead that morning, meaning he had ran into his lead at the level of his neck. I explained I felt that perhaps he may have some underlying discomfort as in order to feel safe, he didn’t want me near his neck (above or below), and to seek vet advice (owner was going that afternoon anyway).
The vet did indeed confirm that they felt Dylan had jarred his neck a little from the incident.
So, just remember, everything a dog does is to feel safe. And on this day, he did this by keeping me away from an area that felt vulnerable for him, despite the fact I was working hands-off. <3