Saturday, April 9, 2011

On-leash growly dog: Update

In the past, I was blogging about Zuko being snarly on-leash in some situations. We went to training classes, talked to the trainers at his daycare and really started working on keeping his focus on us when on walks.

"Leaping tall fences in a single bound"
When we moved out to the suburbs, things got easier overall. Zuko has his own yard now and while there are still a ton of dogs in the neighborhood, there are no sidewalks. This means people just walk along the street and you have plenty of room to avoid another dog if needed. I've also noticed *most* people seem more aware of their dogs and are more considerate than what we experienced in the city.

Finally I've be able to notice a pattern: Zuko is fine with smaller dogs as long as they are not reactive.  He also really, really likes white fluffy dogs. I have no idea what this is about, but he adores them. Bigger dogs ... this is where the issues sometimes start on leash. If a big dog runs up to him - he snarls. If a big dog sees him and is staring at him as they approach each other - he snarls. If the other dog on leash is a Shiba - he snarls.

That seems to be his pattern. Big dogs showing dominate body language and / or dogs that are already lunging and barking at him before they get within 20 feet of him. Funny enough, there are numerous barking, snarling chihuahuas around the Bay Area and Zuko tends to ignore them and not react, even when they are acting as if they want to rip his throat out. It's mainly the bigger dogs he's watching out for.

So what does this tell me? Zuko is very sure of himself and will stand up to dominate body expressions from other dogs. Which almost explains the reactions to Shibas on leash -- most Shibas have that super confident look all the time.

Off leash, Zuko is different. He only gets grouchy when he's tired and the other dog won't back off. I've seen him totally pwn-ed by a dog at the dog park and he got back up, shook it off and chased the dog for more playing.

I wish I could fully capture and understand the body language that is going on when dogs are on leash that causes the dominate body postures and / or reactions in dogs. I feel like I've gotten a glimmer of it, but so much of it is subtle and we humans probably just can't even see it.

-- Posted by Zuko's mom

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