Shiva has begun a new behaviour that has inspired my curiosity. I’m not overly worried about it yet as it doesn’t appear to be related to anxiety or reactivity. However, I am not really sure what it means and could be wrong. It’s nothing she has ever done before and I am hoping there may be someone out there who can enlighten me as to the cause of this odd little action.
Now that the warmer weather has arrived there have been a lot more dogs out on the streets. This used to make me a little resentful as I felt if people couldn’t walk their dogs all winter long they had no right to be bugging us the instant the temperatures started to climb. This year my attitude toward such interlopers has changed. Now I just few the increased sidewalk traffic as a challenge.
“Let’s see how many dogs we can pass without lunging tonight!”
Our record so far is five. We came close to more but Shiva just couldn’t resist a happy, wriggly Golden Retriever puppy. I couldn’t blame her too much for that one.
Much to my surprise and delight, these days Shiva is more often the lungee. Almost every walk now I am complimented in some way for her calm demeanor around other dogs.
“Look how nice that dog is walking,” I’ll hear someone say to their rambunctious canine. “Why can’t you do that?”
It always makes me laugh. Of course, as soon as someone says something Shiva does her best to prove them wrong, yanking me off my feet to go sniff at a random piece of paper.
But I digress.
Shiva has been lunged at a few times in the last few weeks while on leash. Most of the time it’s not a problem because I can see the dog is about to make a run for it ahead of time and am prepared. Her reactivity toward other dogs has all but vanished as long as the other dog is just another goofball like her. Luckily we haven’t had to find out what she’ll do if the other dog isn’t just a mannerless pal.
However, when these other dogs have started to ran at her to say hello, Shiva has taken to dropping immediately to the ground. And I can’t get her to stand or even look at me, not even if I throw a treat at her head. She just lays down on the spot and stares. It’s creepy.
It’s not with all approaching dogs, only the ones who have broken from their owners and ran towards her. And only when she is on a leash.
Nothing happens afterwards. Once the dog gets to her she leaps up either into a play bow or starts sniffing. The tension completely disappears. Still, it weirds me out. I can’t help but wonder if the laying down is a sign of stress or an attempt at a calming signal. Or maybe she is just so excited that she has to quiet herself or she’ll burst?
Have you ever witnessed behaviour like this before? Is it something we should worry about? Just when I think I understand all of Shiva’s little quirks, she pulls out a new one. I swear she does it just to keep me guessing.