I’ll take care of it!
… or why self-confidence doesn’t help either.
“I take care of it!” We would like to shout after our dog when he runs with Karacho to the fence again to drive the parcel carrier away. We press it through our clenched teeth when he barks on the leash, just because a man with a wide-brimmed hat comes towards us at dusk.
Everything could be so simple if our dogs would only finally realize that we have such situations under control …
Why it can’t work like this:
It has now been proven that dogs understand people much better than people always thought, but our idea that we have something under control is beyond their imagination. At this point they judge us by what they see.
And what you see is, for example:
I’m going for a walk with my dog on a leash. We are approached by a woman my age. She looks likeable and also leads a dog on a leash. It would be nice to meet you!
Your dog stretches his front legs a little, pushes his chest out and looks at me with his ears pricked up. For its part, it gets a little smaller and suddenly runs more hesitantly.
All of this escapes me, however, because I am looking for the woman’s gaze and thinking about how I can start a conversation.
We both don’t have a lot of time – but surely you meet here more often and then we go together a bit!
Your dog has meanwhile sniffed mine extensively, what he put up with his head down. He did not reply to this “greeting” and he is relieved when he finally has the encounter behind him.
I didn’t see that either because I was talking.
At the next dog encounter, my dog tries to express itself more clearly: before the other can get closer, he barks at him.
I prevent this behavior with a strict “No!”, Take the leash shorter and continue on my way undeterred.
I did not regulate anything at these moments. Not only did I not recognize an uncomfortable situation as such, I also put my dog right in the middle. With my harsh tone and the pull on the leash, I then tightened it even further. I am of no help when it comes to dog encounters …
After the walk I want to spend a cozy evening, but my dog keeps jumping up to bark something outside.
I send him to his seat, but either he jumps up again or he barks from there.
I prevent this behavior with a strict “No!”
My dog cannot know that the apartment door has a security lock and the alarm system is activated. He only knows that he heard a sound that could indicate a danger.
Now imagine that you wake up because you heard a noise and say to your partner “I think there is someone out there!”. But he only replies “go back to bed!” …
“But I heard something!” You insist. And in a stern tone he forbids them to speak.
At this moment, you have not the impression that your partner has the situation under control, I promise!
You just feel misunderstood, not taken seriously and would like him to just go and see what’s going on.
Here, too, as a partner of my dog, I didn’t regulate anything.
What about visitors now?
When I visit dog owners, I am usually greeted by their dog: some bark at me, growl, jump at me with a sturdy bump. Others sniff and dance around me, want to be scratched, bring me their toys. All these greetings have one thing in common, no matter how defensive or charming they are: the dogs take their time. You slow me down. I never manage to walk through to the living room quickly.
We humans know such behavior: If the door bell rings unexpectedly, we open it (after looking through the spy) just enough that we can peek out. If we don’t close the door right away, we make sure that we block the (now slightly larger) door gap with our body. Only when we are sure that we want to let the visitor into the house do we open the door fully and clear the way so that he can enter.
From this point of view, people and dogs actually agree on how to let someone into the apartment: Slow! First of all, see if it’s really kosher!
Again, our dogs cannot know that the person in question has announced himself by phone and is possibly the heating reader who is simply allowed into all rooms.
So if I open the door and not only let the guest enter unchecked, but possibly send me alone into the living room while I turn into the kitchen to put on coffee, it must seem careless to my dog.
For this very reason, we instruct our children that they shouldn’t open the door, but let us do it for them.
Points on my “I take care of it!” Account: 0.
The list could go on and on: From the point of view of our dogs, we simply don’t regulate many important things. We don’t even understand that they are important.
And that is precisely why we cannot simply claim that the dog can now rely on us to have the situation under control: do not warn, do not take the initiative, yes: do not even want to help us.
That’s why it doesn’t help to “radiate self-confidence”.
Let’s have a look: If a person I know doesn’t even recognize critical situations as such, stands around the area with self-confidence and in a relaxed manner, then that doesn’t reassure me a bit!
Why I’m still in control of things:
Dogs show no behavior for no reason. So if I want to change my dog’s behavior, one way is to fix the reason.
So if I notice that my dog is uncomfortable with a dog encounter, then I will do my utmost to give him the necessary distance. I signal to him that I have recognized his problem, I understand him. And that I help him solve it.
If my dog tries to warn me of a danger, I do not wait until it gets loud, but I react as soon as it is alert, “thick cheeks”, or throws. Even if I am absolutely certain that it is only the neighbor: I will look.
Quite in my own interest: From time to time we read in the newspaper about the dog that woke his family because it was on fire …
And I greet visitors the way they would.
No, I don’t push my nose in the crotch and I don’t bring any toys!
But I take off my jacket in the hallway. Inquire if the person has found it well. Then take him to the living room and put him down. Most dogs calm down clearly as soon as the visitor sits quietly somewhere, so I make sure that he does.
I take every opportunity to take my dog’s information and offer solutions. He can regularly experience that he is understood and not left alone with problems. That I actually do things.
By the way, most dogs manage to draw the opposite conclusion at some point: If my person doesn’t fix this now, then it doesn’t matter either.
My dog, for example, looks at me when something scares him. If I don’t react, he is reassured. If there was cause for excitement, I would have taken care of it long ago …
“I take care of it!” Is not a claim that I make, but a promise that I have given my dog.
Why “regulating” alone is not enough
Things get difficult when my dog is already on the fence before I even said “Post!”. Or, in his excitement, is unable to notice my intervention.
Then we need training.
And there can always be situations that I cannot regulate according to his needs. That’s why we train so that he can survive moments like this without losing his composure.
“I take care of it!”, “I’m self-confident!”: So it doesn’t work without practice.
It’s logical too, isn’t it?