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The Weakest Link

Statler is a formidable guy.

At 50 pounds, he is considerably larger than the average Beagle mix. I suspect there is Rottweiler somewhere in his genetic past, or maybe African Elephant.

Statler’s owner Emily saw him on and fell in love with his coloring and cocky expression.

Of course, this is another case of questionable fit between dog and owner, something we discussed in Like a Glove. Statler is WAY too much dog for his human companion.

Emily is a slight, soft-spoken woman with a kind heart.

She loves Statler.

Statler loves her.

Love is not always enough.

We know that dogs can sense fear – remember Do Dogs Have a Sixth Sense?

And we also know that dogs can sense weakness. Remember how our dogs react when we are ill, distracted, or sad, in Other Duties as Assigned?

And so, Statler has surmised that Emily is a pushover.

Here are some examples of encounters I witnessed between Statler and Emily:

At the door

Emily –  (while trying to hold Statler back by the collar) Just a second! I have him! Okay, come in, but close the door fast so he doesn’t run out!

Statler Hi! Hi! Hi! Let me go! I gotta sniff this person! Feet first, then knees, crotch, neck, mouth! Back to the crotch! Don’t make me get off! I’m just getting to the good stuff!

Sitting at the kitchen table

Emily – (while Statler jumps on me,on her, on the table) Off, Statler, off! I’m so sorry. He’s just so excited to have a visitor!

StatlerHi! Hi! Hi! Wow, this is fun! Look at me! Pet me! Talk to me, not her! You’re here to see me, right! Let me lick your face! Okay, your ear is good, too!

On a walk

Statler Smell that! Wait, there it is! Let’s go check it out! This way! This way! C’mon, move it!

Emily He loves being outside (as Statler drags her off the sidewalk and into a bush). I know he needs the exercise and a chance to smell everything!

Statler has Emily’s number.

He knows that after one or two attempts to stop him from jumping, she will give up.

If he chases the cat, Emily scolds him and then gives him a treat. 

Statler hears her sweet, soothing voice, sees the way she bends down to look into his face, and feels her constant, tender touching of him. All of these signals tell him  that Emily is tentative and unsure of herself. And so he pays no attention to her commands.

Emily knows she can’t physically control her dog. What she needs to understand is it isn’t necessary to have good muscle tone to have a successful relationship with a canine.

In addition to love, she and Statler need to trust AND respect each other. Since the guidance she tries to give to Statler is weak and easily disregarded, Statler blows her off.

With some simple changes to the way she stands and to her voice, Emily can convey what she means to Statler. He’s a smart dog, and it won’t take him long to see Emily as a more confident companion – a strong link instead of a weak one.

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