Socializing Boogie, and Calming Signals.

June 13, 2009 at 10:37 pm 1 comment

As part of Boogie’s training (and for everyone’s safety), we are not supposed to introduce him to other dogs or people. So I tell Boogie to “SIT” whenever another dog passes by on our walks. He sits and I say “Good Boy!” and give him a treat. This way, I have Boogie’s full attention. He is completely focused on whether my hand will go inside my pocket to pull out another treat. We stay like this until the coast is clear (other dog is out of sight) and then we move on together. I have been doing this exercise with him everyday… Everything has been fine. No pulling, no lunging, no drama.

Today being Saturday, there were LOTS of dogs on the street. Sometimes people tie their dogs outside on the narrow sidewalk while they are dining or shopping indoors, and I am proud to report that Boogie stayed next to me, HEELING nicely the whole time. No pulling, no lunging. Most times he would see the other dogs and simply ignore them.

Towards the end of our walk, we ran into a neighbor with a dog I hadn’t met before (sweet Charlotte), and we both stopped to chat. Boogie was of course intrigued by the other dog and vice versa but I made him sit, gave him a treat. When he was calm and relaxed, I did something I should not have done. Ay – here I am breaking the rules again. I let Boogie move towards Charlotte and made sure he greeted her by going AROUND to her BUTT. NOT front on. (“Front on” greeting is bad manners, and could be considered a sign of dominance) I also turned Boogie’s head to one side (with my hand) when he got close to Charlotte. This signals “Peace”.

I have been checking out several websites on “Calming Signals” and Dog Body Language, and I am learning to be more attentive about these things.

click to see larger

It was awesome when Boogie got down into a “Playbow” position with Charlotte, rolled on his back in front of her, bounced up and down around her, and the two started playing on the grass. (Bit tricky with leashed dogs) It was so much fun to watch … it has been MONTHS since Boogie has played with another dog, and I know that he LOVES to play. He was so happy. I wish I had my camera… I would’ve taken a picture of Boogie and Charlotte playing together.

While this was going on,  another neighbor walked by with a german shepherd that we hadn’t met before. Boogie went on alert, of course. I pulled him back and asked him to “sit”. He ignored me…. pulled, lunged, growled, snarled at the the other dog. I noticed too that the other dog was “not friendly”. He had approached Boogie front on, stared him in the eye and barked at him.  This isn’t something I would’ve been aware of before had I not paid extra attention to the other dogs’ body language. (Usually I am too busy focusing on Boogie’s behavior alone) You could say it was ‘natural’ for the Boogs to go ballistic, that he had a right to react the way he did but it was still worrying that he totally did not listen to me when I told him to “sit”. He was pulling and growling like a nutcase. Eventually the guy with german shepherd walked off and Boogie went straight into sitting position in front of me. “OK. Drama over. Treat, please”.

I wonder if dogs recognize “breeds” the way we do. I wonder if Boogs is mistrustful of german shepherds in general, after having being attacked by one…

Anyway, that small drama aside, Boogie has been a good boy. I am glad that he made a new friend today.

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Entry filed under: Outdoors, Play, Social stuff, Training.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. James  |  June 18, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Why are you interested in dog body language?

    Reply

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