Taking your dog out into the big, wide world should be a fun and relaxed experience for both owner and dog. You may have done lots of work with your dog to convince them to trust you in this world that they cannot comprehend, full of Man-made wonders and soooo many others to look out for (in Nature, canines keep themselves to themselves if at all possible), but what about other dogs out there? Can you be sure that they are as well-behaved?
If a child asks their parent, “Can we play with those kids?” a good parent will check out the other kids to see if they are suitable first. The same goes for good dog owners. Sometimes, other dogs can be a problem as they might not have the same degree of self-control as yours.
Here is a quick guide to the kinds of poochie personalities you may encounter when out and about with your four-legged friend:
1. The Schoolyard Bully – this character insists on showing its physical dominance by rolling or standing over other dogs. The bully is putting everyone else in their place and declaring that this space belongs to them.
2. The Wallflower – this poor soul will hug the boundary of an off-leash dog park, hide behind its owner’s legs or get as far away from everyone else as possible. This is a clear sign that they do not even want to be there as they find it far too scary.
3. The Jumper – have you ever seen a dog jump onto another’s back or neck? Height domination is one way that dogs figure out who goes where in the pecking order when they all get together. The trouble is that some do not take kindly to this invasion of personal space which can lead to heightened tension.
4. The Over-Friendly – how often have you heard people say, “Don’t worry, my dog’s just being friendly!” just before a scuffle? In actual fact, the “over-friendly” dog is over compensating for a nervous personality. If a person came up to you in the same manner you might take a step back! These dogs often drag their owner towards other people and/or dogs, which is actually the dog making a decision and taking the owner with it.
5. The Space Protector – this is a dog that would rather be left alone and if anyone dares to invade their personal space, that spells trouble. These dogs do not make eye contact; a clear sign that everyone else should leave them alone. They can growl as a warning if anyone does not listen or sometimes just give the dog equivalent of a clip around the ear. This can escalate if the perpetrator is the Schoolyard Bully!
If an owner starts off at a safe distance so their dog can feel under less pressure, it also gives an opportunity to study the other characters in the area. If in doubt, stay out or keep your distance. Of course, if the other dogs are equally relaxed around your dog then you may approach and let them assess each other. Keeping them a little bit apart is good until you feel they are OK with each other. This way, the dogs also sense that the owners are calm which in turn helps them to be chilled. Dogs are very good at picking up on how people feel both physically and emotionally, so if you are not sure then you can always check out the situation from further away at first. There is no need to pressure your dog into the schoolyard if you don’t need to! Dogs should learn to respect and tolerate each other first before they can become friends ☺
Tony Knight appears regularly on Australian TV’s Yappy Hour and his new UK TV show “Think Like a Dog” starts in May 2015.
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