This article is written by Rebecca Hanlon of Speak Dog
If you sat a child in the middle of a play park to watch all their friends play and not allow them to join in, would you then punish them for getting frustrated and upset that they couldnt join in? Would their behaviour surprise you? We do this to our dogs so often. Get them just close enough to a friend or possible new playmate then get annoyed that they turn into a whirling dervish and drag them away, telling them off and to play nice.
Can you imagine being on reins every time you tried to greet someone? Feeling restricted and unable to express ourselves in a normal way. It’s easy to forget that we constantly put our dogs in very unnatural situations for their species and wonder why they find it hard to cope. If left to their own devices, our dogs would roam, forage, sniff, discover. Their greetings would be calmer due to the freedom they would have.
But our dogs often spend long hours in our homes, some even in crates. They do not have the freedom that we do, so when they go out it can all become very exciting, overwhelming and for some scary. Distance from those exciting things, allowing them to explore and process can support them in making calmer decisions. Giving them time to engage in their environment without overwhelming them.
Our expectations are surprisingly high when it comes to our dogs. We often expect more from them than ourselves or our children. They constantly amaze me, how they deal with the restrictions we place upon them. Set them up for success. It not only supports them better but also reduces our frustration and stress. Social time with other dogs should be fun for all involved, from our rambunctious teenagers to our more sensitive souls.