When you hang out with 15 – 20 dogs a day you tend to pick up stuff, besides poop.
I suppose I can be a bit hyper sensitive to things, it’s a big part of my day and some behaviour screams out at me while being lost on someone else.
I’ve learned to be aware not only of my own pack, but all the other dogs and people we come into contact with. Anticipation, expectation and orchestration are all part of the daily dance.
Can you follow your dog’s lead?
Canine body language is very telling, it can be subtle but a lot of the time it’s pretty clear.
I think the best emotion we can have for our dogs is empathy. You don’t need to be a professional to see what your dog is telling you.
Imagine yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Are you jumping for joy or are you holding, possibly even shrinking back? If you had a tail where would it be?
Probably where most men cup their hands while watching America’s Funniest Home Videos.
I was at a dog park a while ago and heard a woman yelling “No!” several times while shooing her young GSD away from a young lab. From what I could see the GSD was a bit over zealous and the lab, while not quite sure, was engaging the Shepherd. The lab’s owner watched while the woman chased her dog around. She finally caught it, shortened the leash and quickly took the dog out of the park all the while scolding it, much like a teacher pulling a child by the ear down to the principal’s office.
It’s one thing to intervene when you think things are out of control but the consequence should fit the “crime”. That poor dog had just gotten to the park, found a play mate and was chastised and abruptly taken away. He was wound up, confused and certainly didn’t get the exercise he needed. A simple relocation to another part of the park to settle down may have sufficed.
Aside from the woman’s methods, I was concerned by the lab owner’s response when I asked him what had happened.
“It was being aggressive” (that word!)
“Aggressive as in being mean or playing too rough?”
“I don’t know it’s hard to tell” he shrugged and walked away.
It’s a good idea to know about body language, your dog depends on you to determine the best situation for them and you can save everyone a lot of grief.
Do yourself (and your dog) a favour and check out these videos.