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.