We were out as the sun came up this morning. Hearing about our impending heat today, Elsa and I head out to the park early, before the heat hit. Like myself, Elsa needs to workout strenuously daily; so I love when I can get her power run in before the day starts. Today's run was a quiet one, as we were out before most others, nice.
As we were ending our walk we ran into a woman and her 5 1/2 month old yellow Labrador. From far away I could see his rambunctiousness and that he was quite a handful for his guardian. Elsa watch carefully and I watched her intently. As we got closer I could see the question coming from the human on the end of the puppy's leash.
"Can he meet her?" the woman asked. I'd been monitoring Elsa's body language well before they were upon us. Elsa LOVES puppies. But, she is very wary of adult dogs because she has been attacked several times. So...I read very carefully before meeting any other dogs face to face. I go with what Elsa tells me, and if it is another adult dog we typically get space and keep on moving. But this morning she told me that she was interested in this little man.
Even though the youngster was exhibiting direct eye contact and straining at his leash to meet her; Elsa knew that he was non threatening. Elsa is probably one of the best readers that I have ever met. She also knows who she wants to meet and this one was someone who she wanted to meet. Her tail was high but not all the way up; and wagging slowly in an excited by not overly excited manner. She reached out to get a sniff and there was no snorting. Snorting is her stress signal that I listen carefully for.
I asked how old he was before allowing a greeting. He was 5 1/2 months old and even as large as he was, Elsa knew this before I did. I let Elsa sniff him as he strained at the end of his leash. I HATE on leash greetings. Even the friendliest dog greeting can go wrong if they become tangled. After their first sniff I unhooked Elsa. Watching like a hawk (as I always do) Elsa's body language went from interested, happy and a little tense while on leash; to instantly no worries and calmly excited off leash.
The release of tension (unhooking the leash) gave her the freedom to move about, away or closer as she felt the need. Leashes can interfere with body language drastically. Of course there are leash laws and most of the time our dogs MUST be on leash. But it really is amazing to witness the huge change in body language on and off leash.
Even though Elsa had clearly shown me that she wanted to meet the young man this morning; she was much more relaxed off leash while interacting with him. She truly is amazing with puppies. So many adult dogs are not big puppy fans; they don't want to put up with their antics. But not Elsa, she much prefers puppies over adult dogs.
It always amazes me what she allows puppies to get away with. Even puppies that she has never met before are allowed to push the boundaries that an adult would NEVER be allowed. The puppy bounded around, jumping on her and pawing her with his huge feet. I thought that she might give him a bit of a schooling on etiquette but she just enjoyed his naughtiness. Now... had this boy been her little brother; he'd would have had a great deal of education at 5 1/2 months of agee. Elsa is an amazing teacher with the patience of a saint.
Elsa and Forest (little mans name) had a short romp before I stated that we were going to continue our walk. "Quit while you're ahead," one of my motto's in life. They had had a great interaction, so I chose to end it and keep moving along. Elsa was happy, Forest was happy and both guardians were happy. I hope to meet Forest and his guardian in the park again; Elsa really enjoyed his crazy and energetic puppy antics.
Dogs are SOOOOOO much more versed in communication than we humans are. We can go on and on with our words without saying anything. But dogs, they speak volumes with their body alone. Paying attention to that and knowing your dog is so important when living with dogs. Canine body language is fascinating and telling.
Do you know what your dog is saying?