I took this video the other day while working with our new foster family, specifically the mom. Depending on the dog’s personality, it is sometimes difficult to care for the family and build a relationship based on trust with the moma the same time
By definition, we have to get all up in her business to do the things necessary to ensure her and her puppies stay healthy. Things like cleaning, making sure the puppies are eating, making sure the pups don’t get stuck in blankets, etc are a big part of the whelping process.
This mom(name coming very soon) presented an interesting case study that I think provides some really good insight into how dogs will handle stress and how they learn to manipulate their environment.
It didn’t occur to me straight away what was going on. We haven’t let the little lady around her or the puppies yet, and, in order to explain why, I showed her this video. While I was watching with her, I realized that I knew what the mama was trying to accomplish with her behavior.
What do you see when you watch her behavior? One of my goals with this blog is to help people, who really care about dogs, to be able to understand their behavior at a higher level, I think this is a fantastic opportunity to start a discussion about interpreting what our dogs are telling us, so I’m going to go ahead and post this and add a section later with my thoughts.
A little history that should help:
-Mama was very skiddish at the shelter. She didn’t like having anyone near her babies
-We suspect that she was surrendered by her previous owner due to an accidental pregnancy and the ensuing protective behavior that accompanied having her puppies.
[su_spoiler title=”My thoughts/opinions” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]Some of the comments were spot on. She is, obviously, interested in protecting her babies, but, and this is a big but, she isn’t doing so aggressively.
I believe that she used the barking that you see later in the video as a tool to accomplish her goal. Which was for whatever she was barking at to leave her alone. Once I realized this, I knew that this had been reinforced ALOT at animal services. So, in order to reassociate a person(me in this case), I decided to do something different.
I began to associate my presence with good things(treats). A few commenters mentioned their concern that I was reinforcing the barking, but, in my humble opinion, not giving her what she wanted(me to leave) but still having a reward associated with my presence was the best course of action. Right after this video was over, I decided that I just needed to “be” there for awhile, allow her to mellow out, and leave on my terms instead of hers. Since then, we have already taken some big steps in our relationship. She now lets me come into the enclosure with her, fix blankets, and I’m actually getting but wiggles every now and again!
Thanks everyone who commented below![/su_spoiler]