Saturday, October 20, 2007

He Just Wants to Say Hi!

I was reminded of this article the other day, and thought hmmm... I can't reproduce it, but I can refer folks over to it.

Article is called "he just wants to say Hi!" It is written by Suzanne Clothier.

This article talks about do interaction. How to determine if one's dog is "dog aggressive" or just has a well developed sense of it's own personal space.

Having a dog who does have a "well developed sense of her own personal space" this article makes a whole lot of sense to me.

The number of people I have met that I have had to warn them to keep their dog back .... always say, but my dog just wants to say hi! As this article says:
My experience has been that it is owners of breeds considered non-aggressive that cause the most problems in dog-to-dog interactions simply by being unaware that their dog is rude. To the owners of non-aggressive breeds, there doesn't appear to be any thought that rudeness can take many forms. Anyone can recognize that a dog lunging and snarling is being rude. Far too few folks recognize that simply getting into another's dog space - however sweetly and quietly - is just as rude in the world of dogs. Owners of rude dogs do not perceive their dogs' actions as rude; they see only "friendliness," as if the behavior for greeting people is the same as greeting another dog - it's not! Thus the classic line, "He's only trying to say ‘hi!'"
Your dog getting into my dog's space after she has done the normal stand off/away from your dog, turn her head away, etc is just asking for my dog to say BACK OFF BUDDY! in a very loud, non-damaging doggie language.

So when I ask you to keep your dog back from mine...despite the fact that "your dog is just wanting to say hi" means that I am protecting my dog. Doesn't mean that my dog doesn't like your dog, just means that she needs more time to decide if your dog is okay to her or not, and that she needs more time than yours does to "make new friends".

After reading this article I have learned the value of the following:
I encourage handlers to be quite active in protecting their dog - whether that means quietly walking away to a safer area, or, when that's not possible, literally stepping in physically to present the first line of defense. Stepping in between two dogs is a classic act of leadership. Dogs do it with other dogs all the time, so this same gesture coming from a human leader is understood and appreciated.
So just what else can one do to help with these behaviours?

There is no easy answer to that question. Certainly, no matter how aware or dedicated a handler, it is not possible to stop other dogs from being rude - or, more to the point, it is not possible to educate all other handlers so that they won't allow their dogs to be rude. I believe fools and rudeness are widespread, and to the best of my knowledge, there's no concerted government program to eradicate either rudeness or foolishness.
Here is Suzanne's advice: (read the article for more in-depth explanation)

1. Socialize your dog thoroughly with other dogs; for puppies, choose playmates of a similar age and adults who have been well socialized themselves. This means off-lead socialization, not sniffing noses at the end of the lead. The more experience a dog has with other dogs, the more refined his judgment will become about what constitutes rude or foolish behavior and how best to deal with it. He'll also learn how to be a polite dog himself.

2. When socializing your dog under someone else's instruction or guidance, be careful. Some instructors and trainers are appalling ignorant about basic behavior, and unable to set up a positive socialization situation. If you feel uncomfortable with a situation, remove your dog. It only takes a few seconds for a bad experience to leave a lasting impression, particularly on a young dog.

3. Watch your dog. Your dog will tell you all you need to know about his perception of the world. When you're with him, really be with him. Pay attention to his behavior. Position yourself and/or the dog so that the dog is always in your peripheral vision. Practice checking on your dog often. If he appears to be concerned, find out why. And then help him. Protect him.

If you can't watch your dog in a situation where there are potential problems, put him somewhere safe.

4. Be pro-active in protecting your dog. If you see a fool and his rude dog headed your way, do your best to protect your dog.

She goes on to list a whole bunch of do's and don'ts for your dog. Go read them. It would be well worth your time.

Basically what it comes down to for me is: we allow people to be shy, stand-offish, exuberant etc. and we as people find ways to deal with and allow this in each other, why don't we allow it in our dogs? Just as I get over-whelmed by pushy people getting into my space, I can expect my dog doesn't much appreciate it either. I choose to move away, stop talking etc. My Sassy will initially do the same -- move away, growl, turn her head away etc... but when all else fails she will "attack". Never with damage physically done, just lots of noise and shaking. Dog ways I think I more direct aren't they? :) I try to prevent the latter as much as possible, but some people just don't listen and loose dogs well...they are just a huge hazard.

Be alert! Watch your dog, watch other dogs, and protect your dog as best you can.


Kim from Hiraeth said...

I read that article BEFORE we brought Ivy home from the breeder (part of our puppy preparedness packet given to us by our breeder as required reading.)

Ivy, the typical Vizsla, continues to be a very rude dog--she thinks every dog wants to play because SHE does. However, this does not present a problem because WE are trained and she is trained. We know she can't handle greetings like Eve can, so when we come in contact with an unknown dog, we take her off the sidewalk and put her in a sit-stay and pet her on the chest (which is her "settle down" button--another thing our breeder said we needed to establish asap when we got her home.)

She "oh so very much" wants to jump and leap and slap the ground and wag her tail and skip around and up and over the new dog, but she doesn't because she isn't given the opportunity.

Annette said...

All I can say is THANK YOU! The number of knowledgeable dog owners I meet I can are so overwhelmingly outnumbered by the clueless .. so thank you for being knowledgeable.

The thing with Sassy is that she has doggie friends, but strangers are to her, very much strangers and they are not to take liberties of any sort with her. :)

Even with her doggie friends she is still careful in her approach to them, and they all know.. Sassy will run and play with them but jumping on her just is not done. :) And I did ALL the right things too in socializing her. :)

Kim from Hiraeth said...

WE've done everything we know to socialize Ivy and exuberance and downright doggy rudeness remains, so we take charge.

Eve is another matter. She is a very respectful dog and she demands respect from Ivy and Ivy has learned to respect her, but she's like an impulsive toddler. She knows what to do but she can't maintain it over the long haul. She's getting better, but I doubt she'll ever be trustworthy.