Does size really matter? Well; maybe in humans but not so much in dogs. I spent several hours at a couple of different dog parks around Orange County yesterday. I love watching dogs interact with one another; the interactions at dog parks are very different from regular pack behavior so there is alot of angles and dimensions to experience. Entering the park dogless is a little tricky; automatically the dogs gravitate to the gate when they hear the latch close. I draw quite a bit of attention because to them; it looks like I have a small black dog in my arms which is typically fair game.
Anytime you pick a dog up while in a pack of dogs; all attention goes to the elevated one. Not good attention normally; the dog has lost their control and the other dogs tend to take advantage. So I try my best to sneak in unnoticed but it doesn't often work. At one of the parks yesterday there was a pile of puppies playing together, great entertainment. They were 3, 5 and 6 months old; and would eventually reach about the same size at maturity. It was the 3 month old that was running the show; she was controlling what the other puppies did.
This very confident and bold puppy was clearly a leader; which will definitely be giving their guardian a run for their money in the near future. The three month old showed the other two puppies how exactly to dig a whole and get as dirty as possible. She was playing rough, much rougher than the other two. And for her age; she had boundless amounts of energy. This was a very different puppy; usually at the age of 3 mos they tire quickly.
Then a small terrier came into the park; up until that point the park had been filled with big dogs and big breed puppies. But in typical terrier style he came in a laid claim to the place. Size is not everything; attitude is. I have regularly seen small dogs put very large dogs in their place. Watching a tiny dog submit a big burly dog is very interesting; a dog either has it or they don't. But with small dogs comes the extra sense of protection from a safety perspective. I feel much more protective over my little JRT versus my standards. Even though Jessie is a much tougher dog; but this toughness is what gets her into trouble.
When she meets a dog; her immediate sense urgency to educate the other dog is obvious. She wants them to know right off; she is the boss unquestionably. There is no waiting around for small talk; she swings into action. And if the other dog isn't impressed by her "boss of the world" attitude; she can get into trouble. So I watch her body language very closely and I also watch the other dog's body as well.
There are times when being bigger works; if a fight breaks out and you have 50 lbs on the other dog; the odds are going to be on your side. But in regular canine meetings; it is all attitude. Dogs speak to each other way before they actually touch; if infact they ever do touch is a factor having to do with the initial greeting. No one touches Jessie, fact.
There was a big and burly Bouvier at the park yesterday; he was a very confident and calm male, who slowly did the perimeter of the fence. As I watched; a much more inexperience and status seeking male who was smaller attempted to mount the Bouvier. He had nothing to do with it and in a quick spin and freeze motion the smaller dog got the clear message.
So much to watch.