How many dog moms, and dads, do we have out there? A lot! Everyone wants to protect their furry loved ones but sometimes that over protection can be a hindrance to the dog’s mental development. Just as we had to figure things out on our own, dogs need to do the same to be socially adept and learn to communicate with other dogs. If we are always getting in the way of this process our dogs will never learn to either be receptive to another’s body cues or not learn to stand up for themselves when needed. Here’s a great example in human terms. You show up at your friend’s house for a BBQ and see a few people you don’t know. Is it your first instinct to run up to one of these strangers and hug them? If you have proper social skills your immediate answer is “of course not!”. You have learned from your parents, watching others and your own interactions to know this is not polite. The same goes for our canine friends.
Dogs have a language all of their own, which I will go into in a later post. Each and every dog needs to learn these social cues and the best way to learn is by interacting, imitating and learning from their own species. I am not going to lie, I am just as guilty as anyone else when it comes to wanting to protect my dog from possible harm. However, I know it is also extremely important for my dog to learn most of these things on his own so I must be brave and let him experience different situations with different dogs.
The clip I have inserted below is a perfect example of trusting your dog(s) to figure out the proper action on their own. I purposely drove to my friend’s house to have Caleb, my 8 month old German Shepherd, interact with her dogs and horses. To be very honest, Caleb has not had as much dog-to-dog interaction up to this point as I would have liked and his skills are lacking but we are addressing that now. In this video, Caleb meets Zeus, a 9 week old Kuvasz. Caleb was a bit pushy but he responded well to my verbal command of “leave it” and Zeus seemed to be holding his own. My friend gets a little nervous when Caleb pushes Zeus too much and calls Zeus over to protect him in a very natural and caring way. At this point I explain to my friend why it is important to let Zeus stand up for himself. And I’m not kidding, no more than 3 minutes later my point is proven.
Please click on this link to see the short video of Caleb and Zeus learning: https://youtu.be/F90M8rGrArE