We adore Felix. But he was a little pushy, a little rude with the dogs when he first arrived here. His excuse? He's a PUPPY! Like most baby dogs, Felix' favorite motto is Me-Me-Me, and he just couldn't seem to beg enough attention from the big kids that he looks up to.
Thankfully, the dogs here stepped in to impart some necessary lessons in appropriate dog manners. Through it all, Felix is learning how to be a little gentleman. We think his future home and playmates will appreciate the education, even if they have no idea that he once needed it.
Most of the adult dogs in our program have had to pull out some What-For with Felix and meter it to fit his crimes, but none is better than Elliot.
Felix was obsessed with Elliot from Day One and had been doggedly determined to snake his tongue down his throat in a form of frantic handshake that pushed way beyond E's personal boundaries.
It was time for some smack down. Witness, the warm up:
That stiff pose, that pinchy faced 'hard stare'
a show of gums,
a deep, low grrrrrowl.
The perfect warning, meant to give Felix plenty of time to reconsider his obsession with French kissing the Maestro.
... But Felix cannot help himself. Just a few quick flicks of the tongue should soothe cranky Elliot, right?
"Don't make me do it, kid."
Slurp, slurp, slurp, SLURP!
And then, KAPOW!
A gloriously LOUD correction. Delivered swiftly, with convincing drama. Meant to impress, but just shy of pressing teeth into the pup's offending snout. (That will come later, if he doesn't get the hint)
Felix squealed in fright - or, mock fright. (He's a tough little nut). We folded our arms and shrugged. Elliot stared him down, waiting to see if he needed a rinse, repeat.
Allowing pups to learn dog rules via appropriate corrections from well socialized (puppy experienced) adult dogs during monitored play sessions will fast track them into becoming well rounded adult dogs themselves.
That's not to say that pups who miss out on these lessons will be socially awkward for life .. Even the most socially bankrupt dogs from some of the worst beginnings (think: dog fight cases) can and do catch on quick to appropriate play with the right kind of opportunity and well matched play partners. But life is just SO much easier with a little mentoring from an agreeable adult in those early weeks.
Those tough love lessons and toothy corrections may seem scary to us, but they help build a strong bond between the dogs. If we'd interrupted the corrections, Felix would've gained nothing, and we would risk allowing him to practice and repeat rude manners in other settings. We'd also risk putting Elliot in a position of needing to do a more serious and potentially harmful correction when our backs were turned.
Instead, they worked out an agreement under our watchful eye and their relationship evolved and deepened into a sweet friendship, along with Felix's understanding of Code Canine.
Many of our adopters tell us that the young dogs they bring home from our adoption program maintain easy dog manners for life. And they're also quick to point out that their dog is especially fond of big furry husky type dogs. They just love them for some reason. Who's surprised?