|Barked: Wed Feb 10, '10 1:34pm PST |
|My experience has been that a Carolina is very shy, suspicious and will patiently put some distance between themselves, other people and other dogs. A balanced behavior in the pack (that includes us) is insisted upon.
I would caution you that there are two distinct types of interchanges between dogs, and between dogs and humans. True aggression is not a halfway response. If aggression is called for the response will be quick and blood will be drawn in the flash of an eye. Normal meetings between dogs have the character often of being noisy, growly and occassionally involve a "correction". A lot of owners mistake this for aggression and mistakenly anticipate a fight and insert their own fears and anxiety into the mix. All dogs, especially Carolinas, read our emotions, attitude, strengths and weaknesses like a book. If we are weak, cautious, anxious, etc. then we are telling our dog that he must step up to the plate and resolve the situation. If he cannot see anything dangerous or threatening, and has only our anticipation for reference... then we have laid down the conditions for the creation of a Boogie Man (a real (we see it), but invisible danger that can take any form and leap out anywhere.
I have "rehabilitated" innumerable dogs in my area that had been judged aggressive or fear aggressive. Almost always dogs resolve issues or declare their intentions some 30 feet ahead. A licking of the tongue, for instance, gives each dog the information that they only want to meet and
each displays or returns the tongue lick far in advance of any intrusion into personal space. Up close, a tempered, calm restraint or a gentle stroke on the muzzle will readily inform your pup that you are capable of dealing with the novelty, and he can drop into backup position. This firm gentle assertion of your status and strength should be enough. It is also important that you NOT place your dog in leadership position... far out ahead on a long or worse (flexible leash). Physical postion rules in dogs.
They should walk along side of you (or only slightly ahead) on a loosely held leash. Tension on the leash is only used when you are giving a command. I also attend to my dog's demenor as we walk. Raised ears, focused attention, a raising of the body taller and an upright tail with
upright hair on tail and shoulders.... these indicators call our attention to the fact that something ahead is bothersome to your dog. An approaching dog will also read these signals and respond. (I tell people that such a situation invokes a response much like our own should we be approached by someone percieved to be excited, unbalanced, closing on us rapidly.... or putting their nose up against ours.) Our response would be
to quickly determine the reason for such an approach or to push back firmly and insist upon having our personal space left uninvaded. Dogs are
the same. BUT, they, (especially Carolinas) go out of their way to avoid a fight.... unlike we humans. Polite, ritual-laden behaviors for resolving conflict are deeply ingrained.
This is getting long winded, but to return to your question.
Should your Carolina meet with another person, you should ask them to ignore your dog. Let her approach guided by her reading of the person and her curiousity. An investigative sniff will resolve lots. A pat on the
head (something we all do) is impolite among dogs. For a stranger, a gentle stroke on the side is best.
Should your Carolina meet another dog, you should note the demeanor of both. Note the tone of any growl or the nature of a lunge. You will find that it is in the nature of a Carolina to do a "look away", fixing her eyes on something away from the approaching dog. This again, like the tongue lick, physically tells the other dog that there are no issues to be taken up.
A Carolina, can hold that patient response forever. It has the effect of settling both herself and the approaching dog. Once an invitation is made to enter personal space or to have her personal space entered, then
another set of rituals kicks in and ends up with an eternal friendship sealed with a but sniff. (Another common mistake of owners is to leap in and screw things up by the silly notion that a butt sniff is "rude", disgusting, dirty or whatever).
I invite you to answer back, if only briefly. Although Carolinas live for a long time, they can learn much faster than humans. A resolved relationship will make your life and hers a joy.
Lanny R. North
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