No dog is an island

friend or foe?

I try to socialise Brian safely safely, so:

I make sure Brian’s got an escape route (so when he’s scared, he can move away, preferably to me)

a very friendly friend, actually!

If he uses the escape route all the time, it’s better to move away permanently (the other dog might be a bit too much of a challenge)

Brian in ‘his safe space’ (well, next to me)

I make sure Brian still comes back when called, to keep the balance between satisfying his curiosity/ the need to play and his safety (I do consider recall a safety command)

recall in action (yes, I’m proud as the proudest peacock)

I never use treats as an enticement. They can be used as a reward but he shouldn’t come because he wants a treat. He should come because he’s conditioned to do it.

Lily is partial to a treat, though…

I avoid people and dogs who seem to want to avoid us. Whatever the reason, I need to respect their right to be left alone.

We try to play with puppies who are similar age -fortunately we know quite a few. With older dogs, I would intervene if I saw that the older dog doesn’t want to play at all.

I add challenges gradually, with a lot of space for Brian to retreat to. When we meet strange dogs and they want to play, I don’t supervise actively, just watch, making sure my body language doesn’t signal any concern or fear.

Every new experience MUST end in something positive. So, if anything goes wrong (it’s mostly people, not dogs who make socialising difficult, actually), I’d play with Brian (tug of war works for him) as if nothing’s happened. He knows that even if sniffing a dog’s bum has resulted in the owner shouting and panicking, it’s still mostly ok to sniff dogs bums, because 1. most dogs are ok with it and they’ll play 2. if not, life is still full of fun.

another day, another friend made successfullyΒ 



28 thoughts on “No dog is an island

  1. Wise words and I love the fact you are aware of other people and their dogs wishing to avoid you! So you respect their space πŸ™πŸ» Now that is enlightened dog handling. If only others were so aware . Thanks for the post. πŸΆπŸ˜€

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  2. By the way Roxy isn’t quite an island more of a St Michaels Mount !! πŸ˜‚πŸΆπŸ˜€ Cut off twice a day with the tide πŸ™πŸ»πŸ˜€

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  3. Great post-love your awareness of other dogs, owners and space. Most people give Erin a wide berth, still quite a bit of stigma attached to GSD’s, while Erin walks serenely by…she has particular doggy friends, who all play nicely together.Love Brian’s curly tail and the way he and Lily are standing out in the first photo! :)x

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    1. Well, I think Erin looks sweet and harmless (I’m sure she could kill to protect her family, but I wouldn’t dream of threatening anyone!) One of Brian’s best playmates is a GSD, Elsa. She’s his age and gorgeous! x

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  4. No doubt you have already thought about it, but it is important to teach social skills when leashed also. The “flight” option no longer exists (and the dog knows it), which opens up a whole new world of potential issues which should be addressed.

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    1. Good point (as always).Surprisingly, Brian is rather good on a lead. As he runs to me when scared, I think the proximity of safety might be the reason why he’s more confident on the lead. We try to expose him to people more (very slowly, he does have ‘men issues’) and he’s making progress, so fingers crossed πŸ™‚

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      1. Whereas Ray was originally wary of everybody, he too warms up to women much faster than he does to men. Something in his past perhaps? A more captivating vocal tone range perhaps? Who knows … we just acknowledge the facts and work with them! πŸ™‚

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  5. Glad that Brian’s happy, safe place is beside you and that he recalls well. That is indeed a safety issue. I wish I had done better teaching Tippy that when she was younger. She’s pretty good, but doesn’t always return, depending on what is distracting her. I’m working on it. If we are in unfamiliar territory, I just keep her on a leash or long line. Safer that way.

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  6. What attracted me to this post was the title.
    I’d recently put forth a post entitled “Island”, wherein I contend that a dog is an island in a sea of humans.
    I like that you think with dog mind, not human mind, e.g. : it’s humans that can make a mess of situations; sniffing bums is normal and dogs are okay with it, etc.
    Many humans, in spite of “pet ownership”, do not rise to this level.
    Thankfully (for dogs and us), many people do.

    Seek peace,


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love it! Totally agree, 99% of the time people are the problem. Unfortunately I live in an area where people tend to bring their over-excited, untrained and often aggressive dogs to dog parks thinking the ‘play’ will help socialize and calm their dogs. Little do they actually know…

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