What Dogs can Teach Dogs

I received my copy of A Guide to Living With & Training a Fearful Dog written by Debbie Jacobs, it should be required reading before we humans start to live with any fearful dog.  When I stared living with Honey there wasn’t much information available, lots of trial and mostly error on my part, but we now have the “guide book.”

I’ve noticed over the last 367 days Honey learns faster from my other two well socialized laid back dogs then from me.  I had to first learn to speak and think dog, the international language of dogs.  She didn’t need to learn anything, at the first meeting, she knew which dog to hang with, by just a sniff, she picked Dexter.

Dexter taught her which was the best bush to nap under in the yard, to come by hand signal, Dexter dog was deaf.  Most importantly, people who come to visit aren’t really that bad.  Honey may backup a bit at the first site of a visitor, but if the “D” man was okay with them and lays by our feet while enjoying the weather, Honey will come and lay down a couple feet from us too.

Maggie taught her to come in the kitchen in the morning, good treats are available.  Honey is currently studying Maggie as I brush, wipe feet and trim nails.  Honey just sits a couple feet away and watches what’s up with interest.  I have recently started using Maggie as an example for Honey to sit on command, with some success.  My wife will tell Maggie “you’re being USED” whenever she sees what I’m up to.  Maggie seems to reply, “yep, but I get treats too.”

I’m not sure, it would be a interesting study, but I believe fearful ones learn more from other dogs than I gave them credit for.

Those who live with these fearful ones, what have you noticed regarding other dogs you may have taught  your shy ones?


Posted on February 2, 2011, in Our Blog. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I just recently finished reading Debbie’s book too – very informative. And there is not a lot out there on the subject!

    My fearful girl, Meadow, copies everything my two other dogs do. It is pretty amazing. From Downs and Sits – to begging in front of the sofa at snack time. 🙂

    I truly believe she would not have settled into our home as quickly as she did without the companionship of the other dogs.

    • Yes, the more I watch what is going on between dogs, fearful and well socialized, the more I believe fearful ones learn more from socialized dogs than we give them credit for. I have also noticed Maggie will glance at Honey when we are all together, sort of like saying “it’s okay to do this”

      It might be wishful thinking on my part but maybe not.

      Very nice website Donna, thanks for commenting.

      • “It might be wishful thinking on my part but maybe not.”

        My vote is that it is not more than just wishful thinking! 🙂

        Thanks for checking out my site. I’m enjoying reading up on Honey’s story on your site too. Thanks for rescuing her!

  2. I agree that everyone in our situation should read Debbie’s book in the first instance. I had not a clue how to go about interacting with Gracie when she first came into my life.

    I have to say that I was overwhelmed by how fearful Gracie was and could not even see past one day never mind two years or more! But her behaviour has changed for the better, though I have to say, that in essense she remains a fearful dog. She only copes so well because her life here is predictable and little changes from day to day.

    Of her learning from my other two dogs, I have not found this to be the case. They do not interact with her, for them it’s as if she’s invisible, it’s a great shame for all of them I feel. I can only think it’s because she has no social skills and doesn’t understand how to form relationships with other dogs.

    Outside she is fearful of all dogs escpecially if they approach her. She does come forward now however when she sees one of the others being stroked or played with, but just pushes in to get attention with no mind for the other dog. They are both very tolerant of her though and there has never been any lip curling or growling from the boys.

    I know I’m lucky with my three, they are very easy to be around 🙂

    • Thanks for your observations regarding lucky Gracie. Honey is kind of the same, but I think she progresses a bit faster watching my other two. That’s why I was interested in hearing what others have seen with their charges.


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