Saturday, June 23, 2012

Know your Dog's Limitations

Wow, I can't believe how many folks don't truly know what their dog can and cannot handle.  You have to remember, our human lifestyle is full of stress factors for our dogs.  And every dog, no matter how well balanced, does have a limit as to what they can handle.  Don't you?  I certainly do!  Put me one on one with the president of the United States and I might be just a tweenie weenie stressed!

Let's remember, stress isn't fear.  But, it can cause behaviors we may not like or expect.  Example:  A dog is at a party, loose amongst the guests, of which there are say 30.  Suddenly you hear a child's voice say "he tried to bite me!"  You are shocked, as your dog likes kids and has never done anything like this before.  Well, let's look at the BIG picture.  Lots of people, plenty I'm sure stopping to pet the dog.  Children running and playing, bringing a huge energy with them, and you not being able to watch him, or direct him (pack safety).  A child comes up behind him, and surprises him.  He spins and snaps, because he wasn't expecting it plus he's on high alert with all the activity, etc. 

It's up to us, the humans, to understand that not all human activities are especially fun for your dogs.  Having a large amount of "non-pack" members in their territory, can be stressful.  Yes, most dogs would simply handle it, but what about the ones that can't?

This is where you, the steward of this wonderful soul, should really know your dog.  When people tell me "he's never done that before"  I can usually, after a number of questions and answers, make them realize that he has shown this side of him before, it was just in a smaller version and was probably ignored or excused.  Paying attention to the small stuff helps with the big stuff!

That said, does this mean your dog can't ever attend a party at his own house?  Of course not, but understand your dog's limits.  He may only be okay with it for an hour, and then need to be removed to a quiet spot in the house where he can recharge himself a bit.  He may need you to keep him on lealsh so he feels connected and not lost to you.  Or, this may just not be his gig.  He might be the guy you bring out when the party is starting to dwindle down a bit.

Keeping your dog a part of your life is important, but always be sure he's not being too stressed by it!

Have a great day!

Corky the yorky, Everee the BC and Eli the Bloodhound!