Dog Characters And Personalities
With all the personalities of dogs, they all have their different quirks, the things that make them who they are, what makes them tick. Lets embrace who they are and help them through any sticky times that they are unsure about. Below are examples of personalities that shine through in the way they are with us and react to different stimulus in different way informing us on how they are coping with any given situation..
We need to help them find their freedom to enjoy life with you to the full. Sometimes you’ll come across a personality or a dog with many hang-ups, their behaviour tells you all. You will have to revise what you thought life would be like with them. It can still be very fulfilling for you both, just different from your expectations. So please do not be alarmed with some of the below … we can make a difference, even if sometimes we have to manage situations.
Always embrace each individual for what and who they are. Sometimes it takes weeks to make changes, sometimes months and others years. Remember though each day you are making a positive change in their lives. Keeping a diary of changes help you see through the negative times and visitors will notice more often than not the changes are bigger than you first thought.
Dogs, ask questions by what they do, showing you how they feel by what they do or even by what they don’t do. As I explained in part 1 about puppies asking questions as they mature, these behaviours are subtle or we see them as cute or confusing and not really seeing them from what they are. They are asking; “How do I fit in?”, “I don’t feel safe?”,” Are you the one to help me through?” and can I wrap you round my little paw and get everything I want when I want it?
If dogs and puppies get everything on tap they learn no patience, they learn that the world is about them and no one else really matters. This gives them the right ( dependant on personality) to start ruling the roost, so to speak.
So from quiet little displays of conversation, they can then erupt into big displays and that’s when we now realise we have little or no connection or control. We’ve been trained and they control our every move and though.
It all starts getting infinitely more awkward and alarming when they reach 6 to 12 months.
The Happy Go Lucky Personality
These dogs take everything in their stride. Nothing really phases them and they are happy just plodding along and able to enjoy life to the full with little or no hang ups. They are easy to live with, require very little input with training and fit into our lives with little trouble. It almost feels like they came fully trained as a puppy.
If you have one of these, then you probably wonder what all the fuss is about when people talk about problems they are having with various behaviours. That is until you have one yourself! So many times I hear people saying I’ve had this breed all my life, but never ine quite like this!
THE GOOFY ASBO
These dogs are straightforward to help. They haven’t got a deep-seated anxious bone on their body or a grumpy one at that either. They haven’t had any really alarming experiences and just confused as to where they fit into your world. But equally, they are pretty gentle ( probably not physically gentle!), uncomplicated personalities. At 6 months-ish, they are just all over the place, an adolescent with big puppy behaviour, jumping up, pacing, barking, pulling, can’t stop and so on. All they need is understanding and gentle, consistent guidance. Yes, they panic but once the elements of “The Five To Thrive” are put in place, they go “Well why didn’t you say that before?” and “So I can chill, so we can take life at a slower pace and you’re there for me! I get it, happy days” So sleep, rest and play will be natural and calm.
Again change happens in their time, not our human expectations.
The Exuberant Stressed Dog With A History And A Personality To Really Question
These dogs will have spats of prolonged Barking or repeatedly barking and grumbling through the day at sounds or movements or objects etc, Lunging, Jumping up, pacing and very much like the above goof. In fact, all behaviours are very similar but it’s the personality and the life experiences that actually make the difference in how we address these challenges that counts.
They take more time and we need to follow the framework of “The Five to Thrive” but also be pretty inventive and think outside the box too. These dogs need more time for readjustment, to start trusting again, so to take them to slow into life experiences is paramount. If they are anxious/fearful of situations or encounters then keep your distance from these initiatives and build up to close encounters over the weeks. They then can be moulded to take life at a slower pace and instil them with some patience. Always in their time frame and ability and not human expectations.
So to reiterate: Again change happens in their time, not our human expectations.
The Very Quiet Dogs That Hide Away That Have Been Through Traumatic Times
These dogs can look and be so good in many circumstances, looking deeper into their reactions will tell you so much more how they are feeling.
At home they may do the below
- They don’t play
- Weld themselves to a certain place and rarely if ever want interaction.
- Don’t eat particularly well
- Seemingly react to nothing
Out and about they may
- Hug the hedge or wall
- Hide behind you
- Slink about, low to the ground
- Not pee or poop out and about
- Runaway rather than stay for support
A Dogs Past Experiences May effect Some Dogs More Than Others
Whatever their experience in the past, it has had a profound effect on this personality. They have taken correction, even as small as a corrective and repetitive “No” or “get down” from us ( or someone even shouting that at another dog 3 spaces down in a class situation) or forcing dog to dog, human to dog interaction. This personality of dog has taken it deep to heart and decided to stop interacting to keep themselves safe. However big or small the negative input has been, it has made the dog decide that hiding is the best policy to survive.
Slowly Rehabilitate These Dogs To Help Them Trust Again
Incorporating just two of the “Five to Thrive” initially, but like it really isn’t happening. For example; Sitting on the floor, facing away and popping food towards it so it doesn’t have to move. When you enter a room ensure you don’t face towards it in its covered den area. When people come in ensuring the door is closed to the place of entry. Leaving a door open, every now and again, so it can venture out to a secure small garden area.
Slowly but surely it will venture out, when it does, you don’t stroke, just let it sniff you. This dog like any other has just come to find out more about you. By stretching out your arm, this could be seen as threatening. Keep contained and small. When it lays next to you, simply lean in to show support. These dogs again do not need outside life experience yet, they need you and to begin to trust you. Learning in their time, not to show them the big scary world (at this stage) we expect them to embrace with big open paws.
All change happens in their time, not our human expectations.
Dogs That Flick From Quiet And Aloof To Over The Top Reactions In A Nanosecond
These dogs will have spats of prolonged Barking or repeatedly barking and grumbling through the day at every little sound or movement, Lunging, Jumping up, pacing and very much like the above goof. But they will also trot off when the environment is quiet and safe and resist interaction and keep themselves to themselves invariably or interact only on their terms and for very short times on your terms.
It’s true to say that dog’s behaviour is similar with any personality; However, you’ve then got to take note of the extra quieter and serious side to their body language and stance in the conversation. Always, it is dependent on personality and experience how far they go up the scale to being a danger. So, throw in a self-assured personality into any behaviour and we also will see the potential for bully tactics and various levels of aggression. These dogs feel they are coming into a life with rather more than just being a life of joy. It’s only self-control that will hold some dogs back from harming anything or anyone. How much self-control do they have? That again is dependent on personality and life experiences.
They grow up, to feel able to tell you off, you may one day touch the collar to guide your dog away and he stiffens up and stares at you. It may take just the minute look from another dog for them to spark into a reaction. One day he uses teeth, gently and then increasingly firmer. Until he bites either you or a visitor for something you felt was not invasive to his space. This didn’t come out of the blue. Through puppyhood and adolescence, they have been testing the waters, who is there for me, who will protect me? Who understands me as a dog? If they get the right guidance through these stages then happy days and happy and relaxed dog.
Hands off tactics are the way to go even more so with these guys and girls. We can make a difference but there will always be an element of safety management in certain situations.
Again change happens in their time, not our human expectations.
Five reasons why your dog may be anxious in no particular order:
- Their past
- Feeling unsafe
9 Points to help them move forward
- Gaining their trust in you
- Have patience and understanding
- Be their decision maker when they fail to make the right choice
- Support with silence and just being
- Be calm, slow down
- Be proactive, not reactive
- Change you and you change your dog
- If your dog is over exuberant you be calmer …your dog is your mirror
- Let your dog be a dog and rather than you endeavour to stop the behaviours, help them modify behaviours them themselves with the right guidance from you.
We all have coping mechanisms when things go wrong or we find ourselves in places, situations or with people, where we feel we don’t fit. It is dependent on personality and past experiences how we cope or don’t cope in any given situation.
How To Help Your New Puppy To Grow Up Confident With You
Puppies come into our home and from the get go they are; finding out about their new world and you, testing boundaries, testing what they get and how, who keeps them safe, who is a pushover and who “jumps the highest when I say jump”. Who sets attainable boundaries? Who gets them and educates them and understands that they learn in their time, not owners expectations.
A puppy needs to grow into an adult both physically and mentally going through umpteen stages en-route. A can’t be the perfect adult until he reaches 2 to 3 yrs old. So when we hear people say oh “My puppy at 4 months can come back when called, walk on a lead, sit and stay and drive the car” Me being me this does get alarmed bells ringing through my head …. Too much too soon in some cases and personality dependant does come with a bigger teenage pull back at 9 months old, the now adolescent. The reason I say this is because time and time again I get calls from owners saying they had the “Perfect puppy and now at 6 months or 9 months or 12 months it’s all gone out of the window.
Ok, I invariably see the negative side due to the nature of my business and it’s safe to say it’s the really bright and intelligent dogs that generally experience the pear-shaped life. The bright ones tend to be needier of being understood as a dog. They won’t sit just because they’ve been asked to, they won’t stay 20 foot away because that’s what is expected of them, they don’t take well to being popped on a lead. They feel really vulnerable for not being able to understand our world, us and how we live. They get crushed when they are being a dog, puppy and get told to get down, sit down all the time when all they are doing is expressing their feelings. I’m not saying we stop giving them boundaries of behaviours, simply doing it a slightly different way, the way they understand better, that they are not naughty or being corrected verbally all the time, but actually being shown sympathetically how to live their lives harmoniously with us.
In a dogs world, it’s either works or it doesn’t, it’s either right or wrong. They like simple and uncomplicated. Don’t get me wrong they love living and learning with us and becoming part of us. So with this in mind, we need to educate our dogs within their capabilities, personalities, and we need to adjust how we approach various learning curves in their time frame and abilities ( recognising their individual fear periods and when we need to hold back) not our expectations.
No two puppies are the same even from the same breed, same little, same age, same sex. They are all individuals in their own right and we need to be very mindful of that.
We wish to bring out their true fun-loving personalities, carefree and for them to know who is there for them when the poop hits the fan!
Too much too soon and in less than ideal environments with the wrong friends, for many, can result in:
Reactive to most is the label for aggressive dogs, barking, lunging and frothing at the mouth, dogs with hackles up. Reactive for me is any reaction that shows that a dog is not at ease in any given situation. I suppose the label reactive has been put on these dogs more so because more often than not the quiet reactive is not noticed and certainly no so much of a danger to anyone or anything.
Dogs will react when they feel vulnerable and out of their depth in any given situation. We have all been there and that’s why I do what I do now, I’ve failed my own dogs in the past and my journey started with the desire to make a difference and my starting point was to understand them as dogs and how they see the world in our world. Why for me asking a dog to sit when its world was collapsing around it, invariably made the situation worse, why a dog wouldn’t sit 20 foot away from me in a class. Seeing the dog as a thinking being and one who needed guidance, rather than one that needed to be trained or was naughty was my turning point.
These dogs are stable in mind, have been able to express themselves as dogs under guidance from owners. They have the most amazing canine communication signals and presence. They are kind, calm and patient. These guys and girls are either the “Whatever personalities” The ones who don’t take things personally or dwell on events (unless the event keeps happening). Or ones that have a great presence and clear communication signals that are non-threatening but very meaningful. These guys will diffuse a situation without a fuss
We see this many times dogs who live with people on the streets, no one gets in their space, therefore they don’t need to become protective of their space or their owner’s space. They get fed, they get ignored by passers-by. These dogs don’t get overstimulated by occurrences or the owners feeling the need to occupied their every hour or minute. They lay patiently and rest easily watching the world pass by whilst their owner is just being, quiet and gentle putting no pressure on the dog to be anything but who he is naturally. The dog feels protected and safe with their owner and invariably will just turn ahead if gazed at by a passer-by.
We also see street dogs who bumble about their day in their own territories, invariably meeting in certain paces to chill together. There will be one or two they follow because they feel safe with them. They communicate effectively and dependant on personality will look to each other for guidance and decision making. They generally just “can be” as a group of like-minded beings feeling safe in the knowledge they are understood and connected. No interaction with humans generally and feel safe. In many countries, they are safe to just do that. These dogs fascinate me. I follow the activities of the “Soi Dog Foundation” who rescue many dogs from disastrous situations and life-threatening situations. Many, they can re-home to loving families over the world, and its paws up to the dogs who can learn to love and trust us humans and many who a so very ready to give themselves to us totally, even when they have been let down by humans before.
Behavioural modification programmes have to concentrate not only on the dog but more importantly on the human. If you change your approach and become proactive and calm then you’ll be making great headway.
The Reactive Dog
Most Reactions Are A Result Of Compromised Safety
Do you have a highly demonstrative reactive dog or one that hides and slinks about unless you are alone? Yes, we can make a difference. To be able to achieve a happy relaxed dog in most situations we need first with the highly traumatised, need to start way back at home. Rather than firefighting their reactions, we need to address the root cause. The route cause is that in many ways they feel vulnerable; they may have lost or not even gained a trust in humans. They feel, they only have themselves to rely upon when situations become such, that it compromises their safety.
Feeling safe is important to every living being. Who can they rely on? themselves or you or safety within a group, where like-minded do the right thing at the right time to bring about a safe, (non-confrontational is always the preferred option unless pushed to your limits or backed into a corner or tethered to a stationary object or person or being walked towards a threat) outcome.
In order for dogs to learn that being in an enclosed space ( home / narrow lane) or their movement and natural ability to Flee or freeze are disabled (on a lead, even off a lead in close proximity also)We ideally need to mimic what they would do naturally when in that situation. They would walk or trot away, then stop and assess the situation, stand side on and in the words of “Fagin”, assess the situation. Then possibly give more space or get on with their day. Ok there are lots more moves and signals each individual dog will give, maybe sniff the ground, face away, yawn etc. ( making more light of the situation)
We Can Help A Dog Be Proactive In Situations Or Ignore Them Rather Than Reactive
Dogs lose the subtle canine communication signals living in close proximity to things and environments they really haven’t a clue about when their communication signals fall on blind eyes. If we embrace their language and see it for what it is, rather than crush their displays of communication as naughty, and instead guide them to a life of feeling safe, understood and able to fulfill their needs to be dogs and not little robots with only tricks under their belts, then co-habiting will be so much easier for them and us.
With all dogs, all lessons learnt at home in a safe environment with you is paramount. I use “The Five To Thrive” it’s all about gaining trust and for your dogs to feel safe with the decisions you make in your world with them.
Five Areas In Their Lives To Help Them Live Relaxed Lives And Show Them You Are Trust Worthy And Can Make Decisions They May Find Difficult.
“The Five To Thrive”
- Engaging in long interactions when the dog is receptive and calm, you calling your dog ( even two steps) for the affection and calm non-vocal massage
- Using the option of flight (walking away)in the home, garden and on a walk, when they are fearful. Ideally, before they feel really threatened.
- Calm unflustered safe feeding places
- Walking where there in low stimulus areas and build up slowly, enabling you to gain his quiet loving attention
- Engaging in brain stimulating games using their noses and guidance for you if needed, e.g. finding a hidden toy.
Long interaction on your terms and giving them time to rest and relax most importantly, will mean that you have a dog that is calm, feels supported and understood. He will then look to you for guidance if needed. You become a team. One, that can play and rest together and apart.
Keep The Safe And Happy With All Those They Come Into Contact With
Great for your dog to have doggy buddies. Choose their friends wisely. I’m not really into this sniff and go, nose to nose, method as in my opinion, you walk your dog up to another dog and how do we actually know how that dog smells, what the intention of that is to the other dog. So to reiterate, play safe and choose your dogs’ friends wisely, which will mean all encounters have a positive outcome. Neither feels intimidated, no laying on the back whilst being sniffed out by a stranger, wondering if all will be well, no bully tactics of any T shaping or humping or contact sport. This means there will be no prolonged eye contact walking up to a sniff and go experience with a stranger.
Super to have your dog interact with other people too, however, they don’t have to interact with every human stranger either. Bending over from a great high can be rather intimidating. Stick with your friends initially, how does your dog cope when called over by one of them? we love great experiences, gentle, warm affection from people they know,. Remember, do ask them to call the dog to them and crouch and don’t lean in for interaction. No human T shaping going on either! it’s intimidating.
So positive all the way, which means if a stranger one day pops their hands in to say hello, your dog (dependant on personality and past) will not feel over fearful of the encounter and be able to shake it off. I love the term “shake it off” … have you ever noticed that when your dog has had a stressful encounter, they do a shake? Shaking away adrenaline I do believe.
By Caroline Spencer (Natural Canine Behaviourist for Bella and Duke Raw Dog Food)
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Take a look at;
And CBD oil
These can help you but do not rely on these entirely as it has to be you and how you are that’s most important.
Ask about dosages from your holistic vet.
By Caroline Spencer
For more from our team or to meet more likeminded, dog-loving people, please join our ever growing online community over HERE!
Tags: anxiety, dog behaviour, mental health