Body language and walking the dog

I have often written about canine body language; it is one of the most fascinating things to watch, but that's me. As far as human body language; not quite as easy. There are some things that we display quite simplistically and one of these things is our displeasure of situations. I regularly come across people who really dislike or are afraid of dogs. Walking down a path with my dogs it is easy to see who wants to keep their distance; I always oblige by veering off the path until they have passed. I don't stop and sit my dogs like many people do I just keep going but move.

It amazes the number of people who don't get "the signs." I always, always move off the path or out of others way when I have Jessie with me. As a not so dog friendly girl it is my job to keep her away from other dogs. But it never fails; at least several times a week as I move her off of the path people will keep their "let's go see the little Jack Russell" destination intact. Even when I am giving clear "don't come this way" body language they keep coming; until I have to say "not friendly!" As far as I'm concerned I had been saying that all along; they just weren't listening.

So it is no surprise to me why some people simply don't get their dogs; heck they don't even get people. Yesterday we had all the dogs out for a walk; Luke had gone with Dad for a big run and I took the old ladies in the other direction for a nice slow stroll. We met up afterwards to continue the stroll and give Luke a cool down period. At one point we pulled over to give Luke a drink; I reigned in all the dogs and as a woman with a small Akita mix type dog approached I pulled Jessie in further. (Shaking my head at this moment) She kept coming; she came right up to us and stopped and starred at us. I told her Jessie was not friendly and she told me "he's just looking." Okay...............who stops and stares only feet away from other peoople?

She finally moved on and left both my husband and I looking at one another, shrugging. When body language fails; you resort to verbal, so when that fails you are left to manage the situation to the best of your ability. This situation made me think of a walk I took a week ago with Luke on the beach. Luke likes to make contact with other dogs who are walking; it's not always welcome but I will never allow it unless we discuss it with the human first and reading the other dogs body language. We had walked half down the beach and Luke had been interested in all the other dogs until he saw this one black dog. It looked like a border collie mix and was off leash; the guardian showed no concern in her own body language as she purposefully walked straight on. Luke looked and then moved away not giving the dog a second look.

This was strange behavior for Luke; he is always interested. But this dog clearly gave off "don't bug me; I'm walking with my Mom." It gave off no threatening language; by the simple lack of eye contact the dog gave off a confidence about it. This was obviously a nightly ritual for the dog and his guardian and one he was accustom to coming across other dogs on. As we both turned and made our way back it was the exact same communication and Luke read it loud and clear. Fascinating.

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