Mixed messages

I was at the harbor on the weekend where I saw a guy pushing his dog into a down while he met another dog.  The dog that was being pushed down was an Alaskan Malamute and the dog he was meeting was a young boxer, not really young but not quite a year it looked like.  The Alaskan was not comfortable being in a down position while meeting this other dog.  The other dog was quite apprehensive which I'm assuming is why the Alaskan was being put into a down.

So let's pick apart what was going on in this situation.  A young insecure boxer was to meet a very large husky dog who looked very friendly and energetic.  Maybe a bit too energetic to meet for the boxer, but it would probably be a good experience.  Unfortunately what was happening was that the Alaskan was being wound up by being continually put into a down, where he did not want to be.  He had something to say obviously and it was not that he was a submissive dog.  The Alaskan became more and more agitated as his owner manhandled him into a  down.  This happened several times until there was to be no meeting and they parted ways.

Placing a dog in a down to meet another dog is fine if your dog is fine with it.  In fact many meetings improve once the very big dog is down and smaller, less threatening.  But if the big dog does not want to be down; then down is not where they should be.  A dominant dog forced into a submissive position has more to prove; they don't want to come across as a submissive dog.  Each time this Alaskan Malamute broke his down he assumed his tiptoe posture.  He was friendly but confident.

The Alaskan simply wanted to say "hi; I'm a big and confident guy."  But instead; his human kept interrupting causing him to start over and speak more loudly each time.   Often dogs will lay down all on their own when they see that a dog is fearful, I love when this is a natural response.  It is very important to know your dog and not force a situation.  Forcing almost always backfires.