Protecting Your Puppy/Dog
When you are protecting your puppy or dog from other animals and people, it is important that you demonstrate your ability to keep the puppy safe, but without creating dependent behavior. Instead, we want the puppy to know that you are a real LEADER, you can be counted on to protect him no matter what, and that he be able to develop more INdependence as a result. I accomplish this by:
1. Giving the puppy/dog a SAFE PLACE to be.
2. Making PHYSICAL CONTACT with the puppy/dog so that he gains security.
3. Using my body language to KEEP THE THREAT AWAY.
This last step is the MOST important step of all.
For example, I am out in a public place with my puppy/dog on a leash. Another rambunctious dog approaches, and my dog reacts fearfully. In this case, I would step BETWEEN the dogs and use my body to KEEP THE THREAT AWAY. I would also politely request that the owner move the other dog away. If the owner is not aware, or not coooperating, I would grab the leash on the other dog and physically restrain the dog myself (if I was sure I would not be bitten by the approaching dog). I would allow my dog to move to the end of the leash to a SAFE PLACE. The dog is receiving PHYSICAL CONTACT just by my steadying pressure on the leash. Some dogs also will press up close to you for the PHYSICAL CONTACT, especially when they develop more confidence. In those cases, I squat down to his level, put my hand on his ribcage, 'hugging' him to my side. I don't caress or stroke, just hold, steady, gentle pressure. When the rambunctious dog is a safe distance away, then I would move my dog in the opposite direction, talking happily and confidently, feeding him if I have food.
Another example is if my puppy/dog is playing with a group of dogs while I am sitting on the floor or on the furniture. Another dog is playing a bit too roughly (but not being a 'bully' which the leader would correct immediately! ), and my dog gets scared. Hopefully the dog will come to me for protection (if not, I call him to me), direct him to the side of my legs, and using steady hand pressure, gently hold his ribcage to my body making PHYSICAL CONTACT and giving him a SAFE PLACE to be. I use my other arm/hand to make a 'stop' signal and push the other dog away, taking the other dog by the collar if needed. If the other dog persists, then THAT dog needs to be redirected by the owner with a treat, or possibly restrained by leash or crate if they are persistent in antagonizing your dog.
I don't allow the puppy/dog to get in my lap, or on the furniture. It temporarily elevates their social status giving them a false sense of confidence. If fosters dependence upon my 'lap' or the 'couch', places that aren't always going to be available when we are in a public place, or even if I am standing. Instead, I teach him that the SAFE PLACE is right by my legs, with steadying, comforting PHYSICAL CONTACT being supplied by my quiet hand.
I don't talk to the puppy/dog - I just act. I try to mimic what a well-adjusted adult female dog would do to manage behavior interactions between other dogs. She is tolerant, and allows the puppy/dog to learn appropriate lessons, but intervenes when needed.