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.
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.