I have an adorable lab mix who often finds herself at odds with other dogs. I got her when she was four years old, so I have no idea what kind of trauma she’s had to endure. I just know that when I took her out of her cage at Town Lake Animal Shelter, she was sweet and well-behaved… and very deserving of a loving owner.
So, I took her home and paraded around the neighborhood. People stopped on the street just to pet my dog. Of course they did! She’s great! My friends came over to pet her and play with her. Gus and I hung out with her all the time and everything was just swell. She was indeed “man’s best friend.”
However, I soon learned that she couldn’t “play nice” with other dogs. At first, I made all kinds of excuses for her behavior. She was put in a shelter when she had obviously been with a family at some point (most wild, born-under-a-porch dogs don’t sit or lie down on command). And then I took her to a totally new environment that she had to adjust to. And those other dogs were stupid anyway and had done things to instigate the scuffle (well, that was obviously what happened in one case).
Regardless how accurate any of that is, when my dog is biting the face off some other playful pooch at the dog park, it doesn’t matter why she is the way she is. She’s hurting some other animal, and that’s no good.
After owning my dog for over a year now, I’ve found it’s best not to exhaust myself trying to socialize her. She won’t even try to keep her cool around even the nicest dogs and it just causes me undue stress having to keep her from mauling them to death. It’s best just to keep her around humans where she’s comfortable and they’re comfortable.
I really wish I knew her complete background, but it’s just not possible. Still, no matter how mean she has been to other dogs, I know how nice she is to me. So even though I know her behavior is wrong, I just accept it because, well, she can get along with me. Of course she can. I’m human. My own perceptions are the only ones I can fully understand. I can’t relate to a dog that my precious pup is about to eat for lunch. But it’s still not fair to expose my dog to these defenseless animals just because I want her to be social with dogs. Her behavior shows that she doesn’t. I’d be a fool to think that people should make their dogs lie submissive so my dog can have her way with them just because I think she’s cool. Cause she’s not. Knowing it without completely knowing it and accepting it with grace is probably the best thing I can do.