Sunday, 15 July 2012

Nervous about other dogs

When we first got Saffy, we made sure to socialise her really well with other dogs. We went to the park nearly every day and she got to play with many of the other friendly dogs in the local area. I introduced her to big, small, young and old dogs- those who love to play, and those who would rather amble slowly round the park alone. Older dogs would discipline her when her puppyish behaviour was unacceptable to them. She soon learnt to play nicely, and to leave dogs who don’t like to play. This worked really well and Saffy enjoyed being chased around the park (she much prefers to be chased rather than do the chasing!) and the occasional bit of rough-and-tumble play. She sorted herself into the doggy hierarchy very quickly. She’s quite a submissive dog and doesn’t enjoy too much wrestling. When she’s had enough she rolls over -a sign to the other dog to let her up. If this doesn’t stop play, then she gives a small yelp which is usually enough.
However, about two years ago Saffy had a couple of incidents which have made her wary of other dogs. The first was playing with a large greyhound. Saffy might be small, but she easily outruns most of the dogs we meet. This one though could catch her up easily and was very quick to pin her down. After a couple of times Saffy decided she’d had enough of this so she stopped running and lay down. The greyhound was determined to keep playing despite Saffy’s protests. She was exhausted from running away so I put her lead on and picked her up. The owner of the greyhound did realise what was going on and caught her dog to give Saffy a bit of space.
The other incident was with a pack of about 4 or 5 West Highland Terriers. I come across these dogs in one of the local parks quite often. Most of them are friendly, but there is one who growls a lot at other dogs. One day they were all sniffing Saffy and the least friendly one actually nipped her and drew blood.
With both of these things happening, Saffy got very nervous about other dogs- particularly big ones. When we go to the park, I still make sure she gets to see other dogs, but she likes to make sure I’m nearby before she’ll go up to them. She does still play, especially with dogs her own size, but I have definitely noticed a change in her. I think she’s getting better again with other dogs, some days she doesn’t display any nervous behaviour but she is still not quite back to normal.
Today we went to the park, and as we turned down the footpath to go in, a big Golden Retriever growled at Saffy. Both dogs were on the lead and the owner of the other dog did hold her dog back from Saffy, but I think it scared her still. When we got into the park, a large German Shepherd was coming towards us. I see this dog often and I know he’s old and gentle but Saffy actually sat down on the path and wouldn’t move. The German Shepherd came up to her, they sniffed each other and all was fine although even once they’d gone Saffy wasn’t very keen to walk into the park. We came across quite a few more dogs this morning and she did tolerate all of them coming up to her, although she spent most of her time crouched to the floor with her tail between her legs and her ears flat- Saffy’s signs that she’s frightened. She did, however, find a lovely old man who stroked her for a couple of minutes- I think she’s decided that humans are far more pleasant than dogs!

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