Tough little packages
Does size really matter? Well; maybe in humans but not so much in dogs. 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; she will definitely be giving her 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 and claimed the place. Size is definitely not everything; attitude can be though. 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; it is this toughness that can get her into trouble.
When she meets a dog; she has an immediate sense urgency to educate the other dog. 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 the other day; he was a very confident and calm male who slowly did the perimeter of the fence. As I watched; a much more inexperienced and status seeking male attempted to mount the Bouvier. The confident Bouvier would have nothing to do with it and in a quick spin and freeze motion the younger dog got the clear message. Within minutes a tiny mixed breed came in; he approached the Bouvier stiffly; hair raised and walking on his toes. The Bouvier immediately averted his eyes; and made a huge circle around to the back of the small dog. The small one turned to greet the large furry guy; still stiff he gave the big bouvier a hard stare. The Bouvier lowered his postured and moved away slowly.
Attitude is everything.