Hazard free jogging

This blog is about humans. Humans jog, they don’t run – look at their pace! They are slow. That is not running. Dogs run.

Yesterday M was talking to a jogger we met on the beach. They discussed what to do when a dog reacts aggressive towards a jogger. It wasn’t about me, I never do that, of course I don’t! P and I go jogging together so I know what it is like. But some dogs do chase joggers.

The guy told M he had heard that when a dog growls at you and snaps at your legs, you have to confront him. You have to look him in the eye and shout at him to go away. Well…. I was relieved M told him this is a bad idea. When you do this, some dogs will back off, but the nasty ones will think you challenge them and they’ll attack you. I don’t think humans who like jogging consider dog wrestling part of their exercise (although it could be an interesting form of cross-training).

So what should you do? The solution is simple:  slow down to a walking pace. Never look the dog in the eye, but relax, walk on and pretend you are enjoying your walk. When there is some distance between you and the dog, start jogging again.

I know some humans hate to slow down when doing their exercise, but hey, it is a small effort compared to having to go to the doctor because a dog bit you. And by the way, slowing down gives you the opportunity to enjoy your surroundings. You can look at the sky and the beautiful trees around you! That is good for your health, too!

And yes, I know some humans will get angry because it is not their fault they meet a dog that does not behave correctly towards joggers. They’ve got a point. But in the real world, what are the options? You can stop and start arguing with the human of the bad mannered dog, but that won’t solve your problem and will probably not convince the human to go to a proper dog training (some humans never learn). I think this is a waste of time, so I’d suggest to all the joggers who read this: apply the simple solution I just gave you.

Oh, and there is something else. It is obvious but I’ll mention it anyway because sometimes humans can be really silly: do not go jogging in a dog park or on the dog beach when you are not comfortable with dogs. You might meet us.

Friends on the beach

Private beach

I hardly ever do this:

Private beach

Lie down on the beach, I mean. But today it was so quiet, M and I had the beach all for ourselves! I had to experience what it is like, to lie down on a private beach. I know my friend from Switzerland, Hubert, has his own private beach in Saint Tropez, so I was wondering what it feels like. Apart from kind of cold (but maybe that is different in Saint Tropez) I thought it nice, but also a bit lonely. Happily M had this device with her, so I could run very fast to fetch the ball. But it is nicer to run with other dogs and fetch their balls.

Hiking

We went hiking! We drove to a new place, a place I had never been before. We went to a house where we had our own room for the night. We sometimes do this and I always think it very odd, because there are lots of unfamiliar smells in these rooms. M puts my bed on the floor and my water and food bowls next to it and tells me this is our home for now, but it never feels like home to me. Anyway, I knew there was an Adventure ahead when they spread this on the bed:

Oh dear

It is a piece of paper and M looks at it a lot, when we are hiking. P does not, he has this black device where he looks at (a lot). The thing even talks to him, and sometimes P talks to it, too. There are certain things a dog will never understand and that is fine, I am learning as I am growing up.

So we hiked and it was nice. The woods are beautiful over there:

Beautiful woods

There were vast dunes, although no sea – for some reason all the water was gone:

In the dunes

We hiked past some houses along a quiet street. There was a traffic sign telling humans to take care and slow down, for the sake of dogs. How thoughtful!

How thoughtful

We had a great hike. The device that is talking to P showed us what we had walked. M and P really like this, so I will show it to you, for their sake. I personally think it is silly because this is not what we hiked: there is no smell and no taste and no sound to it and that is what makes a good hike.

What is even more silly: they use this device for navigation. But they don’t need navigation when they are with me! I will bring them back to our car or home anytime, they just need to tell me where they want to go. I never get lost. If I had known we were heading for our car, I would have brought them there immediately. But no, they had to figure it out themselves, with the help of the paper M carried and the device of P. That is why our hike ended up looking like this:

Our route

Not very effective, right? But well, it was a nice hike.

By the way, there was one disappointing thing: there were no squirrels, no matter how hard I looked.

Alert but no squirrels

 

To-do list

Although dogs live in the present, we do like to dream of wonderful things. So I made a list of my things-to-do. I like thinking up lists when I am snoozing in the sun. Lists of my favorite food and things that make me happy (which is the same thing, mostly).

Of course this list is an ongoing process, lets call this one my to-do list 1.0. I hear it is actually called a bucket list, although I do not understand what a bucket has got to do with it.

This is it:

1. Catching a pigeon (and eating it).

2. Finally attacking the Enemy, the dogs living next door. Their energy is so bad. And they are way too often trespassing my territory. I can’t wait to teach them a lesson.

3. Eating my favorite pizza.

4. Hunting antilope in Arabia, like the Salukis do.

5. Playing a part in a movie, with a very famous human (M says I have to choose George Clooney). Okay, I’ll be honest: I do not really want to do this, it seems kind of boring to me (sorry Mr. Clooney). But if I do, I can finally stop Hester bragging about her moviestar career.

6. The sun shining every day, making it at least 25 degrees Celsius. Preferably 30 degrees. From the moment  I wake up and get out of my snoozebag, till the time I go to bed.

7. A snoozebag on every floor in our house. And one in the campervan.

8. Fresh energy for my friend Zuid, so she will be young again and we can chase pigeons together.

9. An awesome ferocious Dobermann as a boyfriend, to show off on the beach. Or a proud Saluki. I can’t choose. Right: two boyfriends. We’ll all go to the beach, together! Then Boss can come, too.

 

Springtime

Hurray, spring is here! I can smell it in the air and the sun is warmer, too. It makes me very happy, because I like sunshine and warmth. My favorite forest, where we go take a walk several times a week, is starting to look pretty. Sometimes there are a lot of dogs and I am beware of the ones that are not to be trusted (there are some bad mannered dogs frequenting this forest), but this time it was very quiet. I had plenty of time to stroll leisurely along the paths, sniffing here and there.

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M was happy too, exclaiming she saw so much pretty flowers. I have to admit they are pretty, but it is a shame there is a fence around the field where most of them grow. Now we can’t go crash through them and that, I must say, always adds an extra zest to a pretty field of flowers.

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Body language (2)

In my last post I explained to you how to read canine moods by looking at our ears. Someone asked me what to do with this knowledge. Well, I think it is good just to know, you do not necessarily have to do something with it (what is it with humans, that everything has got to have a purpose?). But if it makes my human readers happy, I will explain some more.

When you know what kind of mood a dog is in, you can make a decision what to do (or not do). For instance: you are walking with your dog and suddenly your dog stops and pulls her ears flat to her head. This means she saw or smelled something that scared her. In that case you, as her human, should be beware too. So don’t drag her along, but investigate. Maybe your dog was scared by something that is not really dangerous, like a big and dark bag of garbage lying in your way. Then you can walk along, acting as if nothing is the matter. But maybe there is something dangerous in your path, like a bad tempered cat or a mean dog hiding in the bushes. In that case you should be grateful to your dog, because she warned you against this danger. Of course in this situation you do not go on, but you take another path and walk happily on.

Grassy walk

I notice a lot of humans are worried about bad mannered dogs. Some humans are very scared of all dogs, which is a bit silly because most dogs are friendly. But bad mannered, aggressive dogs: yes, it is sensible to be scared of them. Although there is a big difference, which you will understand when you look at their ears. An aggressive dog that has his ears flat to its head, is unsure or scared. An aggressive dog that has his ears pointing forward, is very sure of himself. Mind you: both dogs are dangerous, they will attack when they have to. The difference is that an aggressive dog with his ears flat is unsure and therefore will only attack when he sees no other way. He reacts out of fear. The aggressive dog with his ears turned forward reacts out of habit, training and character. These are the ferocious guarding dogs and police dogs.

All right, I can hear some human readers ask the question (again) what to do with this knowledge. When you are a human with an aggressive dog, it is good to know the difference. Because when your dog is aggressive out of fear, you can help him getting more sure of himself. In the end, he won’t need to be aggressive anymore and he will become a happy, well balanced dog. When your dog is aggressive out of character, congratulations! You and him can go to the police dog school and do some thorough training. In the end you will have a very obedient, very strong dog that will make sure you are safe, whatever the circumstances. You will be able to leave your car unlocked or your bag outside the supermarket when you go in, because no one will dare to touch it with your dog near it.

If the aggressive dog is not your dog, but you meet him on the street, there is only one thing to do: go away. It doesn’t matter if the dog is behaving out of fear or character, you do not want to interact with an aggressive dog. Do as I do (and as every dog does): ignore him and go the other way. Do not look at him, certainly do not look him in the eye because this is very rude and will only challenge him. Do not try to walk past him. Cross the street, take another path, turn around and walk along in a leisurely way. If the dog is in a courtyard, do not go in – why would you do that, anyway? It would be very unwise and you know, the dog has a point, guarding his territory.

Some humans say you are a coward when you cross the street to avoid a confrontation. I think this is very silly, something only humans can come up with. Humans seem to make a lot of things way too difficult. Why on earth would you want to confront an aggressive dog? Do you think you will change him, make him behave better by confronting him? You won’t. You will only end up at the doctor and it will hurt. It will cost you a lot of time, time you could have spend walking on the beach or sleeping on the sofa in the sun. I don’t have to think long what I would prefer.

Body language (1)

Readers of this blog will know that I sometimes write about canine behavior, because there are a lot of things humans do not seem to understand about us. I believe that by writing about these misunderstandings, I will make life better for humans and dogs. That is one of my Ambitions. This time I would like to write about body language, to be precise ear language.

If you want to understand dogs, it helps if you know what to look for. You can start by reading our ears. We dogs can move our ears in a lot of different ways, no matter what shape they have. It is easier to read this by dog breeds with big ears, like German shepherds. But when you know where to look, you can also read the flappy ears of breeds like labradors. Look at the root of the ears, where they are attached to the head.

Basically, there are three major positions. The first one is when we are alert and interested in our surroundings:

Body language alert

You can see both dogs (the German shepherd is my friend Boss) have their ears turned forward. When we look like this, we are ready for action: playing, running, guarding, anything.

The second position is for situations when we do not feel too sure. For instance when we are impressed by another dog, cautious or scared of something. Then we turn our ears backward and stick them to our head, as flat as possible.

Body language submissive

The dog on the left is lying on the ground and moving her ears in a position that tells the black dog: okay, you are the boss (for now). The black dog is not feeling too sure either, her ears are flat as well, although she is dominating the one lying on the beach (notice she is almost stepping on her, another sign of body language I will write about later). This probably is because the picture was taken by Nicoline, my personal trainer, and Nicoline told the black dog to behave. The black dog was busy dominating the other one, but while doing so thought ‘uh-oh this might not have been a good idea with Nicoline so close’. This happens a lot to dogs, especially the not so smart ones: they act first and think later.

Notice that the lab next to the black dog is totally relaxed, ears in a neutral position. But hey, he is a very dumb lab. He probably did not get what was going on, thinking about balls.

Then there is the third position, I will call it neutral. It is when we are relaxed:

Body language apprehensive

Mind you: this can change very fast. We dogs react to our surroundings almost immediately (that is, the smarter ones), so we can go from neutral to alert to submissive in a split second. When you want to understand us, you have to be a good observer. But that is the fun of it, right? Never a dull moment.

Of course, these are just the three basic ear positions. There are a lot of other ones, for special occasions. I for instance have a wide array of positions, which I use as I please. This one is for when I feel hungry and P is eating something that smells lovely. It is something in between alert and neutral. Of course in this situation I am very alert (food is my top priority), but I do not want to give the impression of being too pushy. That is why I wear my ears like this:

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This is for when I want something really, really bad:

Being very sweet

And then there are dogs that have a body language that is beyond any description. Like this one. What does it mean? Your guess is as good as mine:

Body language your guess is as good as mine

 

Watching

M and P sometimes look at this luminous device in our living room – M tells me it is called a television. They sit down and watch. I think it is pretty boring to look at. I prefer watching our garden. There are a lot of juicy pigeons in our garden and sometimes even a cat. I just sit and look at them, I study them and think of the best strategies to catch them. It will give me an advantage when I meet them outside. A dog has to be clever.

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Anniversary

Today it is exactly two years ago that M and P adopted me. M told me so this morning. Wow, two years already! When they came for me, I was five months old. They took me home in their car. I was pretty impressed by everything, as you can see:

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In my new home Zuid was waiting for me, she is the dog of friends of M and P. She stayed with us for a couple of days, to make me feel at home. I had never been without other dogs in my life, growing up in a shelter, so it was sweet of M and P to think of this. Zuid became my godmother:

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I grew up quick and I turned into a strong dog, ready to measure forces with anyone.

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I became the fastest dog on the beach:

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And made some groovy friends:

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I had some great Adventures in the last two years. I traveled in a boat, with M and P:

Canoe adventure

We hiked in Spain and in Austria.

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I made sure our campervan was safe.

In bed

I even traveled on a bike in Germany:

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M and I did a lot of training, which to be honest can be very tiring:

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And we became quite good in doing doga together:

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When I came to Holland, I had Ambitions. I am glad to say that in the last two years I started realizing these Ambitions, and have some thrilling Adventures besides. Life is good. I will never stop exploring.

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