Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Original post : January 2, 2014 Still things to learn

Original post : January 2, 2014

Still things to learn

Once again, we were at PetSmart last night. Once again, we met another pup with his person, both friendly. Once again, Nicki wanted to go over and initiate the ID sniffing party that is a dog's greeting. It always seems to go so well. Then, subtly, things change. I'm getting better at sensing Nicki's tension. I wish I knew what it is. Maybe the other dog's friendliness becomes a bit too assertive? Maybe it goes on a bit too long? In the wink of an eye, we go from tail sniffing to a bark and a jump back away from the other dog. It's never aggressive; Nicki is always in retreat. I'm sure the bark is meant to warn the other dog off. But why?

I've seen the yellow ribbon idea; attach a yellow ribbon to the dog's leash to warn other dogs that your dog is not friendly. But Nicki IS friendly - mostly to other humans. She starts out friendly with other dogs, too. Until that moment. It's clear that nobody bothered to socialize her. That, her adorable appearance, and the fact that she had obviously had at least one litter makes me very uncomfortable. She was abandoned in some guy's yard - but had she been meant to be a breeder for a backyard mill? I hate to think it...

So for now, no yellow ribbon. I don't want to "warn away" people and children, because she loves them completely. She's still fearful of some men, but that takes the form of avoidance - never aggression. She loves women, and REALLY loves kids! No yellow ribbon. I have to learn to trust it when I read her body language, and shorten the encounter before it can become unpleasant. Can I do it? Just before the bark last night, I had said "Nicki - be nice!" which of course means nothing to her. What it really means is that I'm learning my dog - and learning how to help her navigate this new world.

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