This week I was reminded of how different dogs are, not just physically but also in terms of personality.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Have a puppy? Check out my Puppy Coach training program instead!
Let me know which personality type you are! Cheers,