Teaching my dog to ask for safety

We had an unusual walk today after a dog briefly harassed Grace – I was shoving unruly poop bags back into my waist bag for a few seconds when it happened so I didn’t see how it started, just that Grace squealed.

It’s very rare that Grace is shaken by something but this time she wanted to come up into my arms – I taught her as a puppy to ask for safety if the world felt a bit too much. It has happened very, very infrequently after she became an adult – sometimes in a new situation.

Today she asked once.

Then again after a few minutes so we just stood there quietly.

And again after that so I sat down on a big log for several minutes while she looked around. She was externally calm, but I could feel her heart beat faster – I hoped that my calmness would help her too.

We eventually continued our walk but she trotted with her tail down and stayed close to me – we did a few searches of a rabbit ball and headed home.

I’m really glad I taught her she can ask for safety as a puppy by jumping up to me – I can also ask her if she wants to come up if it looks like she’s overwhelmed or scared.

Coincidentally, I came up with it in a puppy class that did not mention how important it is to create a feeling of safety for a puppy and how being their safe haven will carry your relationship through many situations.

Of course, I got weird looks from both instructors and other participants at the time, but I didn’t care because my responsibility was to this tiny creature because I was the centre of her world – and still am.

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