Changes in my dog’s behavior
My mutt Ace has become a a lot more social and confident dog.
I adopted Ace in March 2007 when he was exactly a year old. He was very friendly at this time, but also submissive and even shy. He didn’t know how to play with other dogs, although he delighted in being around them. He didn’t eagerly greet new people in public, although he would accept affection if someone approached him.
Today he happily licks other dogs in the face and would love to go home with any random stranger!
I’ve discovered some additional changes in my dog’s behavior this year. He is now 4.5 years old, well into his adult life. I don’t see any of these behaviors as good or bad, they are just signs of Ace becoming a a lot more well-adjusted dog.
All of these behaviors have become visible in the last six months:
Signs of a a lot more confident dog
1. My pet dog marks.
Ace was originally a squatter. I did not see my pet dog lift his leg once to pee on anything for at least three years. He is naturally a submissive pet dog with no need to mark his territory.
He also spent the first year of his life with a family that tied him out in their front yard where there was nothing but lawn to pee on. They did not walk him, so he had no opportunities to pee on trees or fences. He was not around other dogs, so he never learned the behavior. He never got into any “pissing contests.”
At age 4, my pet dog has finally become a man. It was actually a little shocking to see him lift his leg for the first time and pee on a tree! now he feels the need to mark everything from the little patches of lawn other dogs have peed on, to sticks, pieces of trash and even mushrooms. OK, he’s a little out of control with his marking at times.
It’s evident Ace learned the behavior from the other dogs we’ve hung out with through my pet-sitting and pet dog walking business. and maybe because we have a lot more dogs come to stay with us, he feels the need to mark “his” territory.
2. My pet dog humps other dogs.
When Ace meets new dogs, instead of automatically taking on the submissive role, he now goes through the normal pet dog ritual of figuring out a hierarchy. Yes, this indicates he tries to hump other dogs from time to time. nine times out of ten, the other pet dog puts Ace in his place ideal away. Every now and then, Ace is the a lot more dominant dog.
3. My pet dog growls at other dogs.
Ace used to back off if another pet dog wanted something. now he claims his space, food or toys if another pet dog challenges him. He will growl, raise his lips and raise his tail. This does not indicate my pet dog is possessive or aggressive. He is saying, “Hey, this is mine! Back off!” If the other pet dog is a lot more dominant, Ace does back away.
Our dominant cat Beamer will try to claim the space around Ace’s food because it worked for about three years. now Ace puts his head low, growls and holds his own until Beamer backs off. This is the only time Beamer is submissive to Ace. Throughout any normal day, Beamer will take Ace’s bed and tennis ball and will even trap Ace on the stairs, but Beamer is no longer able to steal Ace’s food.
4. My pet dog plays with other dogs at the pet dog park.
It used to be completely “normal” for my pet dog to neglect all other dogs at the pet dog park. He would run around and obsessively search for tennis balls without even acknowledging other dogs, even if they were chasing him, humping him or trying to wrestle.
I’m delighted to report that during a recent pet dog park visit, Ace happily greeted the 10 or so other dogs at the park while not even checking out the tennis balls. He sniffed each dog, figured out a hierarchy with each dog, played, chased and wrestled with each dog. It was so great to go to the pet dog park and see my pet dog actually socializing. We can play fetch in our own backyard any day.
Of course, after about 20 minutes, Ace picked up a tennis ball and brought it to some poor lady. I debated rescuing the woman, but she was one of those people who are fascinated by a pet dog who retrieves. “Wow! how did you train him to do this?!”
Oh, kid …
Why has my dog’s behavior changed?
I have used pet sitting and pet dog walking/running as my full-time job for a lot more than two years now. Ace socializes with a lot of other dogs every day. He has learned how to play and interact with dogs. He’s learned how to be a dog, and he’s thriving.
The behaviors I’ve noted are signs of dominance. A few years ago, I may have considered “dominance” to be bad. It’s not. There are a lot more dominant dogs and there are dogs that tend to be followers. It’s the same way with people. Ace is absolutely still on the submissive side. It’s just that he asserts himself better than he used to.
Some of the changes in Ace’s behavior could also be because of how I treat and interact with him. I do fewer structured walks and runs with him than I did three years ago. He goes on a lot more “pack walks” with other dogs where I’m less focused on Ace. I’m much a lot more likely to invite him up onto the couch or my bed these days. I give him a lot more affection than ever, and we spend a lot more time together now. He’s very, very spoiled ?
Overall, I’m pleased of my pet dog and where we’ve come. He is well socialized. I depend on him around all other dogs. He listens well, and he wants to make me happy. He is still part lab, though, and will wonder off with any individual holding food or a tennis ball. I don’t take offense. Ace is just being who he was indicated to be – a goofy mutt who loves everyone.
Good boy, Ace.
How has your pet dog become a lot more confident recently?