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Social Behavour

Something I found very interesting and hearing and seeing more and more is how we are asking our beloved pets to “conform” to certain accepted standards. Some which are just out of their realm.

Let me go a bit deeper into this. I took my dog Louie back for a check up after he had been desexed to make sure all was healing. Now Louie is a large dog (Great Dane X Catahoula) which means a large bark well a large everything to be honest.

As we got him during COVID he was unable to attend a lot of outings as well as unable to attend puppy school so he is not sure of other dogs except for those in his pack at home. He is also only 11 months old and tends to revert to barking whether he be scared, protective or excited but if you know dog body language you should be able to tell.

So we get into the vets who we do love but he is barking and a little nervous- let’s face it last time he was here he lost some vital things! The vet says she is not going to give him a treat until he sits and stops barking. Well he sits but barks so no treat, this went on a few times and as we were leaving we got a lecture on he needs to be “better” behaved when he comes in.

Better Behaved - ummm did not bite anyone, did not bare his teeth or lunged at anyone. Better Behaved - oh he barked and that made it hard and he was a little suspicious of your intentions so that made it hard - HARD FOR WHO?

As a body horse therapist I get often apologized to because a horse moves a little whilst being held or steps sideward. I always say don’t worry it is good and why is it all good:

  1. I am not in danger, the horse is not exhibiting any dangerous behaviour

  2. I will be reading the body language the subtle breath, muscle twitch, lifting of the leg to read what is happening with the body

  3. Even when I get a massage I tend to move and not lie completely still so what is the difference.

We are all unique, just look at your work or a classroom. Some like their coffee with sugar, some like water, some will sit with their legs under them, some will talk when they are not supposed to, some have nervous energy, some are fatigued - get the picture but none of those unique things pose a danger.

Like us humans some brains are wired differently and they will never confirm what is socially acceptable and that can be for a variety of reasons. I had a red heeler who had been attacked by her sibling badly when very young and she never got over it. She had redirected aggression issues and whilst we tackled some things we could do to make it easier on her we knew we could not break her of it and accepted it.

So when we are asking for a dog to not bark or for a horse to stand up we are asking them for our convenience, our ability to be less embarrassed , for them to look acceptable and US to be in control. Cut them some slack, assess it and is it a dangerous behaviour are people/themselves in immediate danger and if not let it be, let them be them.

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