Today I have a guest who is posting on my site. The writer is Rita Lillico, she lives in Canada and she raises Bouviers and trains them to be Service dogs.
A recent trip to Edmonton showed me quite well the attitude that people have regarding their dogs. I took Czar to a dog walk park; half the people understand their dogs and the other half seem to think that their dogs only have one set of feelings. Or maybe that is all they have ever seen and the attitude my puppy has to have time to be a puppy.
Most of the dogs we meet were young and full of energy. Bouncing and playing all over the place. One comment stuck in my mind even yet as I have heard it so many times. “Oh but my dogs is only being friendly”. Poor Czar the old timer was stuck with standing there with puppies bouncing in his face. I could not let him discipline as he would have liked to do, as it would have freak out the puppies owners. Yet would you like some teenager bouncing it your face and all over you saying and shouting hello? Of course not.
The one thing I have always found strange is the fact that dog owners have a habit of thinking their dogs has one emotion, friendly happy, never grumpy. Then they flip when puppy starts to mature and starts to test the boundaries. Something must be wrong with him; he has never nipped or attempted to bite.
Lets start with the basics of greeting. Puppies bounce and jump in each other’s faces and that of the adult dogs. The only difference is puppies bounce and jump right back. Adults, well a good percent is going to grumble and grump and discipline the puppy into respect the older mature alpha dog. Which leaves the owner of the adult dog being accused of having a vicious dog. Dogs are pack animals and have a strict line from dominance too submissive. Unlike the so-called equality of the human world. The alpha dog expects to be respected and ignored or have the younger, even adult submit to their will. So the reaction to put the young whippersnapper in his place is not an act to hurt, but one of sorry I a boss and if I have to shake you I will. Pups quickly learn in a pack that adults must be greeted with “respect. They approach adults using a slightly crouching posture, with ears back, tail down and wagging, and they lick the lower part of the adult’s muzzles. These are signs of respect and affection, not fear and are called the subordinate display. The function is to keep peace and harmony within the pack.
So when walking your dog remember not all dogs will be in a good mood, not all dogs will get along and most important most human owners have not train their dog to respect pack order and leadership. Take yourself for instance, can you honestly say you will like every person you meet, will you be able to greet every person with a happy smile and a cheerful hello. Of course not, this is what makes life so interesting and varied we are all so different, and so it is in the dog world. The main difference is that unless taught, their instincts go against the rules of our society. They look at life with basics, if no alpha dog or person around, and then they will take the command position. Even if they can not handle the responsibility, they will try to take control; this is where most dogs are given up to a new home or put done. Not because they were poor quality dogs, they just had poor leadership from their owner.
So before you let your dog run free to greet all the other canines they will meet, make sure your dog will come when called. There is nothing worse then meeting people who complain because your adult male is growling at a bouncing pup or dog. Yet they themselves cannot call their dog at all. Also make sure that your dog will ask permission from you as the leader to take off and run free, to go bouncing towards another animal or person. Because the same person who complain about Czars grumble, could not stop their dog from jumping all over me when I put Czar in the van. At nine months of age this dog was becoming a menace to all, friendly yes but its’ size enable it to knock me flat, and that pavement sure hurt. So if it had been an elderly person out for a walk, in the picnic area; there would likely be broken bones.
Hence the pushy puppy, who has not developed subordination? Has become a spoiled puppy. Showered with love and affection just because he’s so cute and cuddly and they want him so desperately to be their friend. Is now an out of control dog. When asked if their dog had had any obedience, I was told no. We wanted him to enjoy being a puppy, but he is getting hard to handle. He doesn’t seem to hear us when we call. In order to get him back we have to chase him or call several times. I stood there and looked around, five major streets within a short running distance. The chances of death were there and the owners did not seem to be able to see it. This dog run out on to one of the streets and the owners complained about stupid drivers.
So the steps from greeting improperly, was already progressing to the next stage. Yet I was cruel because I disciplined Czar from going on the street. My way of looking at it and it true, Czar was rusty about the rules of traffic in the city. Plus I want him around for a good while. So come means “come”, first time out whether I shout it or a quiet command or hand signal. The one rule to remember is that dogs can count and they know how many times you will give a command before you enforce it. If they are running towards a busy street, ten to one you only have time for one command before they are under the wheels of a vehicle.
So do your puppy a favor and teach him or her the ways of this world we live in and you will have a dog that people admire and comment on all the time. The easiest way I have of deciding what behaviors to correct; is to picture my dog at about 200 lbs. doing the same thing. I do not care if will never grow past 12 lbs., bad behavior is just that and in time you will come to dislike it intensely. So start the day puppy comes home, you have just replace their mother and its up to you to teach him from now on.
Rita Lillico March 21, 2001
I met Rita on Facebook. We are in a group that is for Service Dogs together. I have learned a lot from her about rules of SD's in Canada vs the US.