New Attitude—Body Posture
Mia carries herself a lot differently now than she did her first few weeks. The majority of a dog's language is spoken in body posture and gestures. When she first arrived her body posture said she was ready to take over this new pack. She tried her hardest to control everyone and everything around her. Not because she was a bad puppy, but because she is super intelligent, confident and strong-minded. She has what it takes to be a leader and if she was living in the wild with only a pack of dogs she would do a darn good job at it. The fact is however, Mia lives with humans and the canine animal and the human race cannot safely coexist with the animal in charge.
The following pictures were taken during Mia's first few weeks, when Mia was in "take over the pack" mode.
Notice Mia's tail and head. Her tail is ridgid and high. Her head is high. Her ears are perked. She is holding herself as big as she can as she prances from one room to the other. She's on her way to check something out and she's making sure everyone sees how big and powerful she is.
This is Mia on the run playing with Spencer. Again, notice the tail. She's letting Spencer know that she sees herself as a leader and in her play she is doing her darnest to convince him she is higher up than he is. Bruno is standing back watching her. "We have our work cut out for us. This pup needs to be taught a few things about living in this pack."
Mia playing with Spencer. Spencer is in a play bow pose while Mia keeps herself as tough looking as she can. Tail up, ears perked, body square, "I'm the one Spencer. I am going to rule this place soon. You see me, I am all that!"
Mia out in the yard with Spencer. Mia approaches Spencer in a way that puts him on guard. You can even see it in Spencer's face. He knows what she is saying "Lets play, but I make the rules." Spencer is not looking too happy with her. You can see the stress in his face.
Mia running through the kitchen. Her tail use to be up a good bit of the time, which was a sign that she was feeling pretty bossy.
Another shot of Mia running around the house playing with her toys. Her body is not calm or relaxed. It is still in the "I rule this place" mode. Dogs who are in this mode are constantly feeling the stress of needing to make sure everyone around them sees them this way. In their minds they must never show weakness.
This is Sara teaching Mia that she must not run over and eat Bruno's food during feeding time. She has her own bowl and she must be patient. She is not allowed to run around stealing everyone else's dinner. Mia's body posture shows how determined she was. She was not relaxed, her tail was up high and her ears were perked. She was holding her body in a tough girl posture.
This is a picture of Spencer and Bruno out sunning themselves on the side of the house. The dogs were silent, yet there was an entire conversation going on. Mia had come trotting over letting them know she was the new leader and not to forget it. Spencer was telling her he did not agree as Bruno watches. Lets take a closer look...
...This puppy is telling Spencer she is a leader. Her body is not relaxed, her tail is up, her body is stiff and square. Her ears are perked and her head is proud. Spencer is telling Mia he does not agree with her by staring her down and as a result Mia lifts her paw off the ground not as sure as she was when she first trotted over. She is being silently challenged to back down.
The following pictures were taken at 14 weeks of age.
Now lets take a look at Mia's body posture at 14 weeks old. She's been with us for 8 weeks now and her attitude has changed for the better.
Look at the difference in how she now carries herself. Her tail is not up and her head is level with her body. She is trotting across the driveway. You could almost balance a tray of drinks on her back.
This is Bruno, Spencer and Mia out in the driveway with Mini the cat. There is a lot of excitement going on around them as the cat weaves in and out of Bruno's legs (cats love Bruno) and Spencer runs over to start a play session. Yet notice Mia's body posture. She is relaxed. Her ears are slightly pinned, her tail is held low and her shoulders are relaxed. She is leaning slightly backwards instead of trying to square herself up. She is mingling with the pack without trying to rule it.
In this picture Mia had just found a stick and she had picked it up in her mouth. What a treasure. A stick! Her tail was wagging very wide all the way from hip to hip. She was not worried about someone stealing her stick or about needing to claim it as her own. It was just a new toy.
This is Mia carrying her stick across the driveway. Had this been several weeks ago and Mia found a stick she would not have been so relaxed about it. She would have been worried about keeping it. Leaders need to make sure they are respected and to do that no one else can just come over and take the stick from them. If they allow that they are showing weakness, so they must be on guard. This pictures shows a whole different story however. Look at how her body is relaxed. She is no longer squaring her body posture up. Her tail is level, her head is low, her ears are slightly pinned, her shoulders are relaxed. you can see the joy in her face and the softness in her eyes.
I reached down and took the stick from her and she just wagged her tail at me happy to share her treasure. I handed it back to her. Good girl Mia. Isn't life much more fun and not as stressful when you don't have so much to worry about?
When you live with a dog you are part of the dog's pack. Imagine how stressful it is for a dog to believe its job is to look after, make rules for and lead the pack when the human followers keep running off and leaving the leader behind where it cannot do its job. Hence a lot of dogs having separation anxiety. Some think it is cruel to be a pack leader, as if it means one must be harsh and mean. It is however the opposite. Being a leader does not mean you are drill sergeant, but rather showing calm, confident authority. It is cruel to take an animal into your home and not satisfy its instincts. Pretending a dog does not require being treated like a canine, as if it is an extension of the human race is selfish. It is putting your own needs as a human before the animal's natural instincts.