I walked Spencer into the upper horse field where a herd of ponies and a separate herd of horses live. We had not been in the field since the winter brought all of the snow and ice. Now that it’s all melting it was time to let the pup run. He is not allowed to chase the horses. It had been so long since he has seen them he went for it. He ran toward three of the ponies. Instead of running, however the ponies walked toward him as a group, all looking right at him. Spencer skidded in his tracks, turned and walked away. For the rest of the walk he showed all of the horses and ponies respect, only smelling one that was lying down but ignoring the rest. Many thanks to the ponies for putting him back in his place so I didn't have to.
Notice his tail is level with his back and not higher. That tells me he was not being dominant toward the horses, just excited and curious. The horses didn't see him as a threat either. Horses are flight animals and run if they sense danger. None of the horses or ponies ran or kicked at him.
Spencer was outside doing his business. While he was peeing he was staring at something intensely and suddenly he took off running, heading right for the driveway. He was running fast and I mean fast. He got to the driveway and...the driveway gate was shut!! Burn on him!! I had known the gate was shut so I didn't even bother yelling for him to stop.
After the burn on the pup I had walked away to let Bruno do his business when I heard Spencer barking at something. I mean really barking. The kind of bark Allie, my old Boxer would do if there was a fox trapped in the cat house. I didn't tell Spencer to stop because I first wanted to see what it was. I thought for sure it was some kind of animal and not one that lived here. His bark was different. It was not a play bark and this was the first time I heard that type of bark coming from him. I walked over and saw a wild, feral cat on the swing set. Not one you can touch; it would most likely bite you if you tried. I looked at the cat and it was scared to death. I looked back at Spencer and he was in high-alert hunting mode with his tail up, very high and rigid. He looked at me and back at the cat and barked. I stood there for a second assessing the situation, then said to Spencer "come on" in my "I mean it" voice that has a strong emphasis to it; said with authority but very calmly with a growl to the tone. I leaned toward him to let him know I really meant it. The last thing I needed was a feral cat fight and the poor wild cat just wanted to get out of there.
Spencer lowered his tail and started to follow me away from the cat. As soon as he did I immediately turned away from him. I eased up on my posture and started heading toward the house so Spencer would know that's what I wanted. When he looked back at the cat I went back into mamma bear mode, leaned toward him and said "come on" in my growl voice. Spencer turned back to me and I immediately backed off and started walking back to the house. I could not help but smile as he left the cat behind and followed me. I didn't even have to take him by the collar. He just came with me.
In the house he went to the door and asked to go out. I knew he just wanted to chase the cat so I walked to his dog bed and said "come on." Spencer walked to me and I pointed to his bed. He plopped down on his bed and lay his head down to sleep.
The communication between us was awesome. I really felt we knew what one another was saying and I used limited words and more body language. Spencer's body language was that of a happy dog as he was walking away. When he was following me he had a gait of submissive joy. I never yelled at him and never touched him, everything was calm and to the point. "Wild cat! Yes, I see the cat. Thank you very much for showing me. Now let’s let it go. No, you are not going back out, go to bed." We said all of this without words yet we both knew.
I am practicing using fewer words and more body language with the dogs. It is a fun skill to practice, how to speak dog. Knowing when to back off is very important when communicating with a dog. As soon as they start doing what you want, or stop doing what you are asking them to stop, you must stop the correction. I turned sideways and stopped eye contact to tell him that was all I wanted. When he started thinking about it again I turn back toward him, leaned forward and used my body language with a grunt to say I didn't approve.