"The Peeing Post"

Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature

Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen

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Social Interaction


Dear $first_name,

It's Mogens - I'm back to follow up on what we discussed earlier. Did you get a copy of "The ABC's of Dog Language"? If not yet, you should! Seriously - it will give you so much improvement in your relationship with your dog that you will be unhappy about all the misunderstandings you have made your dog subject to in the past! But trust me: your dog will forgive you instantly you show it what you really mean.

The URL is http://k9joy.com/ABCsOfDogLanguage. You have nothing to lose - and a much better life to gain.

Anyway, today's topic is social interaction.

No insult intended, but, chances are, you are wrong if you think you know what it means...

It is not about "socializing" with other dogs. Although it is nice if your dog will at least be non-aggressive to other dogs, you are making a big, big mistake by thinking that it is good to let your dog have lots of time together with other dogs, especially if they play together...

I know - you think I am crazy. That might be true, because I love my dog, and I want my dog to love me too.

You too? Oh, I see - so how come then that you are okay with your dog having more fun with someone else than it has with you? Just to pull out the full analogy (again with no insult intended - just as an eye-opener): How would you feel your relationship with your spouse would be if you were fine with him/her having more fun with someone else than with you?

I believe you get the point. But don't push the conclusion too far. You would never want to deprive your spouse from having any fun with other people, would you? Same with your dog. There is no point in totally depriving it from contacts with others and other dogs - but you do want to make sure that being with you is more attractive to it than anything else in its life!

This puts some formidable obligations on you. You want to be attractive. You want to be almost like a god for your dog. You want to be the most important thing in your dog's life. You want nothing else around that can make you jealous. You want that dog to love you and adore you and admire you. You want it to care so much about you and what you think that it will always obey your wishes.

For the dog, this is all very simple: you just have to be the pack leader! Then it all follows automatically.

So, what does it take to be a good pack leader? First, you must be a member of the same pack as the dog. There is no fee for the membership. But you become a member by acting like one. Pack members greet each other every time they have been apart for just a few minutes. They play with each other. They hunt together. They share the results of their hunt. They stay connected all the time. For life.

Next, you must be a leader. Fortunately, dogs are looking for pretty much the same kind of personal qualifications in a leader as we are. Think of a boss you really like or liked working for - real or imaginary. Think about some of the characteristics of this boss, some of the features that make you enjoy working for him/her. Make a list of these characteristics and translate them to Dog Language - and you have a frame for what you should become for your dog! (Yes, this is a homework assignment! Make that list...)

Did I hear some objections...?

Work - family - other commitments? So you cannot be with your dog 24 hours a day seven days a week? Seriously: WHY NOT?

OK, I hear some valid reasons. But I also notice that they do not take 24 hours a day. You still have at least 4-6 hours left every day you can spend as you please. That's enough. Most dogs will sleep 14-16 hours per day, and they can learn to feel secure, also when they are alone for several hours in a stretch - even daily. What matters is not so much the time you cannot be together with your dog, but the time you actually can share with it. Make sure this time is "pack time" - with no TV.

"Pack time" also means that you will have to learn how to do "dog stuff". How to greet, how to play, how to communicate. If you cannot do any of that, you will be very boring for your dog - and your chances of earning the dog's love and admiration and respect will quickly disappear into nothing...

Your leadership is equally important. I can promise you that if you don't act as a qualified "dog boss", then you will get a whole bunch of obnoxious behaviors as the dog's response - and you will definitely not have a happy dog. Dogs crave leadership far more than food! If the leader tells them to not eat, they won't!

Seriously, did you make your list of the leadership qualification you value? It should be a fairly long list, but let me help you with some of the most important ones you might not really be aware of:

  1. Making decisions.
  2. Enforcing the rules.

A good boss makes decisions. We all have a natural tendency to avoid making decisions. Making decisions is committing. It exposes you. You could be wrong... What if you made a bad decision? If you are the pack leader for a starving pack that finally found a track of an elk after 3 weeks with no food, then you will be quite upset with yourself if you make bad decisions that could possibly eliminate your pack!

In the eyes of your dog, you have no choice. You have to at least pretend that you are always doing the right things. Make those decisions, and show to the dog that you do! Don't wait for the dog to come with a suggestion - because then you really just support the dog's decision - and your leadership is toast!

Leaders are leaders, not followers. A practical example is your dog inviting you to play - it comes along with a favorite toy. The leader, of course, declines the invitation (!) - for no other reason than it not being his idea to play now. But two minutes later, when the dog has given up and has lied down with a sigh, then the leader could get a brilliant idea: maybe we should have some playtime? So, this highly competent leader now invites the dog to come and play with his toy.... (Women can do this too, by the way - so you have no excuses, my ladies!)

You see what the dog gets out of this? In both cases, it gets to play - which it needs. But in the last case, it also got a very clear demonstration of who the leader is in this pack...

Leaders are also consistent. They always follow their own rules. And they make the followers follow those rules as well. This means: if you have a rule saying that dogs are not allowed in your furniture, then there will never be any dog at any time in your furniture. But if you are not there all the time to watch the dog and correct it if it breaks the rule? Well, then you just gave a demonstration to the dog that you are a sloppy leader that can't make rules...

Yes, the spotlight is on you all the time! You have no breaks, except when the dog is asleep. And now you got subscribed to The Peeing Post, you might as well consider selling your TV...


Cheers and woof,

Mogens Eliasen


If you have any suggestions to contributions or contents of The Peeing Post, or some comments or questions pertaining to this issue or in to dogs in general, I will be happy to know about them. If I can find an answer for you, I will!

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PS. There is a lot to learn about social interaction with your dog, and it is not easy to get it all right, particularly not from just reading about it. If you are interested in improving your ability to interact with your dog on the basis of providing good leadership for it, I can strongly recommend my video "The Dog's Social Behavior". It is based on a live recording of one of my seminars, and it comes with a little pamphlet that contains all the illustrations I showed on the overhead in the classroom. In addition to this, we incorporated a lot of live demonstrations with dogs, so you can get the link to reality. The video runs almost 2.5 hours, and it is "dense" - it contains a lot of information to digest, so you will want to watch it repeatedly in order to get all the value out of it you can.

I actually make this seminar a mandatory start for all training I do with dog owners. Until you understand how the dog's behavior is linked to its instincts and how you can trigger those instinct behaviors yourself, it is very hard to become a qualified packleader. But when you fully understand the main social instincts and how they relate to the ways you should interact with your d dog, you are off to a very good start!

You can get the video at http://k9joy.com/DogsSocialBehavior. Your dog will love you for it - and it gives you a good excuse for keeping your TV... :-)