Monday, May 14, 2012

Keeping the peace: a lesson on dog body language.

There are a couple of miniature poodles in our neighborhood who we often see out walking (with their owner of course)—cute little things that are probably each the size of Leopold’s head. Well… maybe more like his head and neck.
In any case, Leopold and I saw the poodles on our walk this morning. At their approach, Leopold lowered his head, pulled back his ears, crouched his body, and then lay down on the path completely. The owner asked me if Leopold was stalking, as if his poodles were the prey. Not at all! I explained what was really going on, and afterwards it occurred to me that there are probably more people out there who don’t know what it means when a dog lowers his body or even lays down at the approach of another dog; so I thought I’d write a quick post about it.
What was really going on was that Leopold was trying to preemptively keep the peace. He lay down as a show of submission to let the approaching little poodles, which were clearly formidable forces, know that he meant no harm. He did this before they got close enough to start a scuffle so that he could greatly reduce the chance of a scuffle happening when they actually met on the path.
I have to admit, it’s a little annoying that Leopold does this sometimes. It’s awfully hard to be walking when my dog is lying down… And aside from trying to pick him back up, there’s not a lot I can do but wait for him to get up again. But at the same time, I’m glad Leopold is trying to keep the peace.

1 comment:

  1. Will he take treats when the poodles are approaching? Sounds like he is scared, not "submitting". If he won't take treats, he might actually be stressed out. Tiny poodles can be scary little things!