Dog personality and how we behave in life

Dog personality by Doggy Dan

This week I was reminded of how different dogs are, not just physically but also in terms of personality.

The scenario

As I wandered along the beach with my 3 dogs, I met a young couple on the beach who had a German Shepherd dog (GSD) on a leash. He was about 7 months old and was bouncing around on the end of his short line, trying to get closer to my dogs to play. We got chatting and it was clear to me that he was a little excited, over the top and needed to be calmed and shown how to behave. He was not aggressive, however he was a big boy already and looked pretty full on, weighing close to 35kg.

The reaction

As I stood there chatting to them with my dogs moving around him, Moses (my 7 month old Lab, Collie cross) started to snap at him. Moses was partly reacting to his over enthusiastic behavior, but also seemed to be trying to get one over him and tell him off. Moses is quite a bit smaller and probably weighed 30% less, however he kept giving it his best shot. The only word for it was dominance. He kept invading his space, telling him off, getting him to back off, and move away. It was actually fascinating to watch as Moses kept coming up from underneath this much bigger dog, so he really had to front up, push his chest out and claim his ground.

The A-ha

After a few minutes things calmed down and I suggested that they would be fine to let him off the leash. They did so and he ran up to Inca… now for those of you who do not know Inca, she is a 5 year old whippet cross mixed breed, and a submissive little dog. She sat there on the sand, looking away, ears pinned back, looking terrified as this dog sniffed her once over.  “OK” I thought, so neither of you two are completely happy with this boy…! Then I called Peanut over, my 8 year old mellow Rhodesian Ridgeback cross, lying 10 meters away with her paws crossed, staring out to sea. She glanced across at me with a look of, “What? Me come over there to meet that out of control young juvenile? No thanks I have done my time training those youngsters, Moses is doing a great job!”

Then I got it.

They could all see what I had suspected. That this 7 month old boy was way over the top and now they were all responding in the way that felt best and most natural to them. What was fascinating was that they all responded differently, so very differently.

Their responses were not to do with their breed, shape or size. It was to do with their personality.

Let’s look at my three dogs quickly:

Moses – Personality Confident. Dominant. Strong. He took him on face to face and put him in his place, gently, but firmly, saying I shall take none of your silly behavior.

Inca – Personality Submissive. Especially in the face of big, bouncy over the top dogs. She submitted and stayed very quiet.

Peanut – The matriarch, Calm and Gentle. Stayed away and took the easy route. Not looking for any trouble.

Dog personality and individuals
Peanut, Inca and Moses. My three amigos.

The take out

It made me smile… there’s so much we can learn from our dogs, so many lessons for life in such a brief meeting. It reminded me that we all have options available to us on how we face situations. The way we behave will dictate how the situation unfurls.

 So if we want a different result next time, I suggest that we change the way we are behaving. So which of the three dogs are you instinctively?

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Let me know which personality type you are! Cheers,

Doggy Dan Signature .

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

2 Responses

  1. My dog club went to the beach recently with all our dogs. I have two small dogs, Max a reactive shih Tzu/maltese and Cindy whom the vet decided was an Australian Terrier cross. We are not sure what she is crossed with, although at mealtimes it could be a Labrador. Only joking she is probably crossed with a silky terrier and a few other breeds we don’t know about. Once at the beach all the bigger dogs plunged into the waves, chased toys and generally had a wonderful time. My shih Tzu sat down beside my wheelie walker and thought, yep I know most of this lot so they are okay but just in case I am staying close to Mum. My girl Cindy ran around wondering whose going to play with me, who who? Forget the water and the waves though. So our trainer picked her up 7.2 kilos of her and waded out knee deep and let her swim in to me calling her on the beach. Well! the look I got, “Mum, you allowed that person to cart me out into those awful waves where she dumped me into water which was undrinkable (the dam water you can drink) and you just stood there calling me!” you know the look? She kept far away from me for awhile after that. My shih Tzu who will chase a stick into the dam took one look at the stick I did manage to find as if to say ÿou want the stick, you go get the stick, I’m not going into that noisy rough water” Eventually I did wade out into the water knee deep, which when the wave arrived became waist deep, Oh dear, never mind all for a good cause. Then I tried to persuade my two wilting violets to venture into the water before I ended up even wetter as I cannot stand without support for too long. Not going to do that even though they knew I had cold chicken back in the little cold box. So with help I get back to the beach and took Max out for his surf, and our trainer took Cindy back out and everyone ended up having a wonderful time. Enter a strange man walking along the beach with a BIG dog, Cindy ignored it as expected but Max came over near me and growled and snarled. Strange man tried to bring BIG dog closer but I said “No, don’t bring your dog any closer”and he backed off and went on his way, otherwise there could have been repercussions. We all gathered together then and returned to the grassed area, washed the dogs off, and ate lots of cake with coffee. A lovely day but two very different dogs do I have, who will react quite differently to each situation.

    1. It is actually pretty common for dogs to be a bit wary of the ocean and you are sot on when you mention that the movement and noise can be the real issue. It all comes down to survival and some dogs feeling unsettled about swimming in the ocean, those same dogs often don’t have a problem swimming in still water however. The approach I recommend is not to force the issue or make a big deal about them not entering the ocean, rather try wading in ankle deep water yourself and seeing if they eventually summon the courage to follow. I avoid calling them in too much and prefer to just let them work it all out themselves. This may help the next time you all venture to the beach! Best, Doggy Dan

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