Acting the part
Act the way you want your dog to act. That's right. I was thinking about the importance of our behavior with our dogs the other day as I moved in to do Luke's nails. He is a nervous ninny type, very suspicious and needs to know exactly what I am doing all the time. He was laying out on the big lounge and I thought it was a good place to do his nails. Problem was that he has never had them done there before, an issue for Luke. So I calmly picked up the dremel and walked non-chalant like over to him and sat beside him. He sniffed the nail tool, sniffed me, sniffed the air and then relaxed. I ask him for his feet and he obliged, he sniffed me again looking for a reading of mood. Finding a calm Mom he thought this might just be okay.
A week ago in a shuffle at the door, it was a big hub bub before a walk. We had decided to take all three, Jessie was literally under everyone. Luke was knocking into everyone like the whirlwind he is and I accidentally stepped on him. I got the immediately eyeball, his whole body in a submissive state he looked at me as if to say "why?" He again is sniffing me, and with no anger reading I roughed him up a bit and all was forgotten. I don't make a big fuss, if I did he'd think that something was up. It is all how we act.
Our dogs are always watching us, reading us, and looking for signals. Of course there are dogs who watch more closely, like Luke, he doesn't miss a thing, ever. But all dogs watch and read. When you think about it, this is how they communicate with each other so it is the same way that they communicate with us. When you watch dogs interact they throw signals fast and furious, so many that it is hard to keep up with everything that they are saying.
This is why our dogs often lunge and bark at other dogs and we have no idea why. They've probably had a lot to say before we even notice, sometimes it's not such a great conversation and both dogs can erupt. So when we interact with our dogs we must be very aware of our own actions. Are we being calm, solid and reliable in our communications? Or do we fly off the handle, yelling, stomping or sending mixed signals? Yep. We humans are a strange bunch for sure.
I often experiment at home, I will change my posture, send signals both large and minute to see who's paying attention. Typically they are all paying very close attention and know exactly what I am doing. So when Luke started barking regularly in the yard because the neighbors got a new puppy I knew I had to stop it before it got worse. If I yelled at him, he looked at me then barked more. So I calmly but very seriously went out with a big posture, thanked him for telling me there was something out there, then told him to stop and go inside. All was quiet for a long while and the next time I simply had to look at him and he came in and got a very big "you are the best boy."
If there is a situation where a dog might be fearful, our actions are the most important. In a pack of wolves, it is the adult mature members who will be teaching the younger dogs. The young ones will watch how the adults react to certain situations and learn how they should react. When to be scared and run, when to very "whatever" about something and when to be slightly concerned and keep an eye out is all learned by watching.
So when something is going on, somethings up or something needs to be done remember that there are learning eyes on you watching your reaction, being educated on how they should act.