I was really proud of myself today. I was out riding my bike while giving doggie a walk.
It is a challenge for me to be the pack leader with her. She is the dog of the person where I rent, so I have known her as long as I have lived here. I love her and enjoy spending time with her. She gives me a lot. When she is with me she needs someone to be the pack leader, most dogs aren’t natural born leaders and they get anxiety and fears like anyone when they are managing a life they are not confident in. Having to be a pack leader is a big job for a dog. And as Cesare Millan, The Dog Whisperer, would say, a dog needs humans to do that in the home, so they aren’t taking over and bossing humans around all the time, so that they aren’t anxious and afraid all the time.
As her pack leader I take my job very seriously. It has helped me to work on being calm and assertive and that has helped me in every aspect of my life. Doggie is a strong dog, from a strong breed, and so I have to work hard at managing her while out in public.
The nicest part of that is that she loves people. She loves to be around them, she loves time spent interacting with them, and she feels happier when they are close. Me too.
She also loves to see other doggies and always wants to meet them, which isn’t always possible. Sometimes she whines, sometimes she barks, and sometimes she bolts towards the other dog, all challenging behaviors I am trying to change. I tell her, you can’t meet everyone, you can’t become friends with everyone, no matter what you want. Again, kind of reflects my own life. She might not understand the words, but I think my tone of voice consoles her. She likes being understood, I think. I am still teaching her proper behavior and social skills with new doggies. It helps remind me of what I expect of myself and to help me practice my own interpersonal skills.
I’ve been trying to notice reactions from others. Some give a look or make a comment, usually to say nice dog or pretty dog. I used to just bike on by, sometimes say thank you. Now I try to stop for those people and ask them if they would like to pet her. She loves that.
Today we were out and there was a group of people on the sidewalk and I decided to get off my bike and walk her through the group. Some people moved aside as we went through, but I got a good vibe from them, so I asked this one person if she would like to pet her when she started talking to doggie. She did. Several people did. Several kids did.
Then a guy, who was standing back, looked over at me. He said, I’m afraid. I’m afraid of that breed. I told him that she is nice and doesn’t bite. He said no I’ll just stand here.
I said okay, you don’t have to pet her. I told him she never bites, even once she got bit by another dog, and she didn’t bite back. I think that did it for him. He got this look on his face and this light in his eyes, I would call it courage. He stepped forward, several steps, and then, he petted her.
I didn’t know him, but I was so proud for him.