After a few years with Mac, I have graduated from a completely oblivious new dog owner to a slightly more seasoned dog slave that is more observant to my King's body language. There are a lot of subtle body expressions like quick nose licking, yawning, shaking that are associated with stress.
I came upon this short and clear article about stress signs (with pictures!) and thought this would be a great link to share as the come-back post after months of absence: http://www.4pawsu.com/stresssigns.html
Thanks to all the comments on the earlier entry - when Andy brought Sumo over to my house to "test the water," we decided to approach this home visit with a few added strategies.
- Seeing how they met before and worked things out once already, we skipped the baby gate. This worked because Sumo was extremely submissive and never challenged Mac.
- We let Mac and Sumo meet in a neutral territory first and went for a walk together.
- After the walk, Mac and I stayed outside the house while we let Sumo a chance to explore the house without Mac patroling him. This is so that when Mac is in the house with Sumo, Sumo will not be exploring
the house which agitate Mac the Majesty.
- Once they are comfortable with each other in a location, we proceed to another location of the house.
Overall things went a lot smoother compared to last visit. It is probably a combination of them already met each other before, the more gradual and organized introductory process, and me not flipping out each time Mac breathed down Sumo's neck. We figure one more visit like this and I should feel comfortable enough to board Sumo when Andy goes on vacation! Yay for new playmate!
Below is a collection of videos from this session, less scary moments and more play time, I promise!
PS - In an effort to keep things more organized, I created a new YouTube channel for Mac instead of lumping all my videos together. If you are interested in getting notification on new video updates, please check out the channel and subscribe!
While some may be common sense, there are a few in there that we unknowingly do, for example, sticking hand in a dog's face for him to sniff instead of waiting for him to approach, having direct eye contact instead of using the sideway approach. Worth a look!
For more tips, check out Dr. Sophia Yin's website.
Earlier this week Andy talked to me about the possibility of boarding Sumo the Boston/Frenchie puppy at my house for a few days in June. Knowing how dominant and territorial Mac is I had some serious doubt about introducing a high energy male puppy into the house, but since they already know each other from all the hikes, maybe it will work. We decided to have Sumo visit this past weekend to see h
ow they do.
As expected, as soon as Sumo stepped through the door Mac greeted him with intense growling and staring down. Good thing Sumo was willing to be submissive and immediately went as long to the ground as possible - eye adverted and ears pinned back. The rest of the visit played out in a fine display of perfect canine body languages with a happy ending. Check out the video below if you have a moment, I found it really fascinating trying to decode what each dog was trying to convey to the other along the way!
News Anchor Kyle Dyer was wrapping up a segment of interview when she leaned in close to Max the Argentine Mastiff while her and Max's owner both anxiously patted Max. Max was obviously uncomfortable as well, collar being pulled tightly back by the owner and physically trapped between his owner and Ms. Dyer while Ms. Dyer's face loomed ever closer. This combination resulted in a quick bite to Ms. Dyer's lip. Actually, it looked more like a nip meant for correction, unfortunately humans are much more delicate than dogs.
All the warning signs were there - avoidance, anxiety panting, quick tongue flicks, teeth baring (although that was really short). Unfortunately nobody recognized the signals or maybe due to the pressure of live broadcast, they ignored the signals in order to try to present a more positive illusion.
This is a good reminder that while we can trust our own dog, we need to be mindful when strangers or even friends unknowingly put their face right in front our dog's mouth, because let's face it, who wouldn't want to squeeze and get close to a Shiba's handsome face? =) Jokes aside, You may be able to read the warning signs, but the others may mistaken the gaping mouth and panting tongue as signs of happiness! Gently suggest moving that face out of the bite range, it is always better safe than sorry!
This topic may be controversial: How should you act when another dog is acting up towards yours at a dog park?
The entire conversation can be read by clicking on the thumbnail to the right (with name/pic masked off for privacy, btw, the last author actually "Liked" her own reply, she must have felt very strongly about it). It started with people complaining about a pair of standard sized Poodle terrorizing a local dog park, with the owner not able to do anything to stop them. All of the people that complained about the pair ended up just leaving the park, and some don't even enter the park if they see the Poodles there.
I find it ridiculous that so many people know and complain about them, but nothing had been done. I guess we don't like confrontation. This brings me to my main question: if a dog in the dog park is behaving badly towards yours, whether it be humping or excessive bullying, and the owner is either no where around or does not care, what can you do?
I can tell you now, if Mac is obviously in distress and your dog is pinning him down and you are not right on top of them, I am going to push your dog off of him, whether it is the proper etiquette or not. The well being of my dog is way more important than what you or everybody else at the dog park think of me.
As to less immediate behaviors like humping, I am on the fence. Should you be allowed to nudge the dog off yours, or should you be completely hands off and pray the owner would do something soon?
...LOL!!! I apologize, I am rarely this rude, but seriously this guy... I will just let all the YouTube comments speak for themselves. I really should not help promote this guy's video but this is a gem.
I am for Positive Reinforcement and I also really try to understand what my dog is telling me instead of just over-ruling him and force him to do things without considering the reason. But at the same time, I believe that letting my dog know I am in control of the situation is very important. I think depending on the situation, more aversive reinforcement is reasonable. It is just that there is such a stigma associated with anything negative that people immediately shun it, probably fearing judgement from peers; so as a by-product of this movement, we now have people like Zak that hops on the Anti-Cesar bandwagon to boost his own fame (listen to what he said in the beginning of the video... yeah right, he clearly knew it would generate controversy and that was exactly what he wanted). Sad.
I apologize if you are a Zak George fan, or Zak George himself.
Recently I bought a nice little pouch ($5) at PetCo that hooks onto my belt and allows me to carry bits of treats with me while on walk. Since the weather was absolutely gorgeous, Mac and I went on a little neighborhood stroll with some training along the way. The main focus was to practice "Heel" and "Wait," both crucial to know while on walks.
Whenever my hand was close to the pouch, Mac became perfectly obedient with razor sharp focus, we may as well rename him to Lassie. But that intensity deteriorated quickly whenever my hand left the vicinity of the pouch... you can say Mac's obedience had a direct correlation with my hand's distance from the treat pouch's opening.
Mac's frisbee has been collecting dust in the corner for the past months. Today, possibly inspired by a certain Border Collie, Mac finally decided to give it a go!
This week Miso joined us on our weekly hike, while at the pond we decided to do a little swimming lesson...