Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Dog Has a Memory Like an Elephant

When we took the dogs to the park this morning, 4 extra dogs showed up. Normally this is a stressful occurance for me because my dog goes psycho when she sees other dogs. She wants so badly to meet them, and goes crazy because she can't get off the leash. She does really well off leash, just not on leash. This time, however, she did really well approaching them and didn't go crazy. Then, knowing her personality, I just dropped the leash so she could meet them easily. Sometimes the leash sets her off. She was doing well, and the dogs were all making friends without a problem. Then she sniffed one of the dogs, and suddenly whirled and started barking her head off. She was circling the dog, barking loudly. I finally grabbed a handful of fur and grabbed hold of the leash. Suddenly I recognized the other dog. It was the dog that attacked her weeks ago when I had her tied to the fence. The interesting thing was that while Sally was barking and going crazy, the other dog didn't react. I think because Sally had won that original fight, she had asserted her dominance.

Just when I think I am making headway on some of her behavioral problems, she comes up with a new one. Who knew that a dog would remember past grievances? I didn't want it to end like that, so the other owner and I made the dogs walk with each other for awhile. Ever couple of minutes, Sally would start lunging and barking her head off again. I would pull the haltie tight and make her sit and be quiet for a few seconds, then we would start walking again. We made a complete lap of the park with Sally doing this every couple of minutes. The other dog walked calmly along without reacting. I think it was good therapy, but I didn't see Sally's behavior improve. It could also have been that the other dog had body language that we didn't notice, but Sally did.

The moral of this story is: If you get a dog, get a puppy. And when you do, expose it to other dogs as much as possible. The younger you start, the better. Make it normal for them to see people, bikes, skateboards, dogs, cats etc. When they are little they are still moldable. I'm dealing with a dog who wasn't socialized enough, and who now is having to unlearn certain behaviors. It's much easier to do it when they are small. The other lesson is that dogs do remember if you are mean to them.

1 comment:

Amber said...

the other day I saw a small terrier dog that looked like a smaller version of Sally - it was so cute and made me think of her :)