For years I have been so very perplexed by Shayne. She was never really reactive in the typical sense of having some big display at the sight of another dog. She wasn’t aggressive toward other dogs and has never hurt another dog besides a few incidental nicks (no punctures). She was not completely comfortable around other dogs… yet wanted to interact. After a short walk together, new dogs could come into my house no problem… yet greeting a new dog while outside was definitely bad news (on or off leash).
Some days, I’d watch her behavior around other dogs and think she’s scared… other days she was very bossy and controlling… yet other days she would just overreact to another dog’s actions… etc. She was over reacting to corrections from other dogs… delivering over the top corrections… then there were the very rare typical reactions. She really is hard for me to read–I suspect that I’m just too close to the situation to really get a feel for exactly what her deal was (and never could afford to have an awesome behaviorist take a look-see and give me their opinion). Although I may not have the best read on her in the big sense, it hasn’t stopped her from improving with lots of work and a new greeting plan.
When I brought Rio home, I did so expecting the worst and hoping for the best. I was prepared to keep them separated for a time until they learned to like each other…. I hoped that since he was a puppy that all would be okay and such but I really wasn’t sure. Even though bringing Rio home was an absolute breeze (to this day they haven’t ever even had a spat), I wasn’t sure just where she stood in terms of her dog-friendliness. I brought him home, carried him up to the apartment, quickly leashed Shayne and took them both for a walk. There was really no chance for Shayne to snark or react to the puppy I had protected in my arms and once they were on a walk and greeting more casually, they were perfectly fine and have been fine ever since.
What having Dexter has shown me is that while she may be loud and sometimes over the top in her corrections and may not be capable (yet) of normally greeting another dog… she is also ridiculously tolerant of his persistent antics. She may grumble about his behavior, but she hasn’t ever taken it way over the top. He jumps on her, steps on her, steals her toys, bites her feet, bites her face, he knocks her over, pulls her off the couch, barks in her face, and gangs up on her with Rio. With all of this, she has only delivered a very small number of over the top corrections (that Dex sort of deserved but not entirely). Most of the time she was simply grumbly when he was being rude, not aggressively or really upset. When he’s being rude trying to get her to play, there are moments–glimpses of moments, where I can see her on the verge of letting go and having fun.
I’ve really gained so much confidence, not in her social skills (which really stink), but in that she really does enjoy the company of other dogs and likes to be with other dogs even if she’s awkward with them at first. She is indeed safe around dogs who won’t overreact to a correction she may give (and really is safe even if they react to her correction since she generally is the one who gets pinned and even then there are no puncture wounds, just some incidental nicks). Not only is she safe,but she can even be really tolerant of rude behavior.
It’s been quite an adventure getting to watch her learn how to cope with a new dog (an adult male who is pretty pushy and very physical with virtually no understanding of a space bubble) coming in the house. It’s nice to see her so successful… I just wish she’d pick up some of his social skills… but not quite… maybe one day LOL! Until then, I know I’m just pretty excited to have gotten the chance to see her interact with a brand new dog in such a successful manner. Perhaps with enough fosters she’ll really turn a corner in her doggie relations!