My little street dog
Recently, during a seminar, I realized that my dog lives with me like an Indian street dog….
Well, not quite, because he has less freedom.
And yet much more than most other dogs I come across.
But first things first.
In countries where they are accepted and treated nicely, for the most part, street dogs live a very free life and they choose the company of humans because it brings them advantages.
For example, they spend their days in busy areas where food is given to them from time to time in restaurants, they maintain social contacts (some more, some less) and roam around their territory.
At night, in some countries, they are gladly let into the house, where they even make contact lying on the sofa.
They are not owned by anyone, but they are cared for and are not at all shy.
There is harmony between dogs and humans… completely without constraints, borders, leashes, and fences.
That this by far does not work so well in all countries with street dogs and that there are also perverted animal abusers in the ones described above is clear.
As well as, that we can’t just let our dogs run free from now on.
Nevertheless, I realized that I would like to give Sammy certain freedoms.
He is a dog that does not go for walks.
This is mainly due to his many health issues and resulting anxiety problems.
Still, he wants to do his business outside.
So I have gotten into the habit of just following him outside.
He sniffs through his territory, marks, watches people, cars, other dogs, cats, birds, and sniffs some more.
And of course, he does his business.
It is a routine that is fun and natural for him.
And if you watch him doing it, you can see the naturalness of this existence.
He does not want to go for a walk.
But he likes to explore new places from time to time because there are so many new smells and impressions.
After that, he sleeps much better.
At home, our life together looks very similar.
He decides when contact is possible for him and when he can enjoy petting or contact lying.
For me, this is completely ok. In turn, he notices when I’m working too hard and comes over as a distraction to remind me to take breaks.
We make so many decisions in our dogs’ lives.
They depend on us so much.
So it’s easy for me to let him make certain decisions and I like to watch him make them and try to see the criteria.
You wouldn’t believe how exciting that can be.
Which decisions these can be and when a dog needs help is of course totally individual.
Sammy, for example, needs help in encounters (dog, human) and has learned that he can turn to me in these moments.
For little Calumi this also works great.
She is totally interested in her environment and the wildlife scents around her.
I like to leave her in her sniffing world as long as she sticks to the rules of the game (stay reasonably on the trail, stay approachable, and leave wildlife alone).
If she discovers something spooky before I do, she waits for me and asks for help.
That’s how I imagine a relationship at “eye level” (which is never 100% possible with protectees).
And of course, we also have rules and boundaries, which we had to train first.
Just like the asking has a training history, because the dogs first have to experience that they can rely on us.
Especially independent dogs find this totally difficult in the beginning and we need patience in training.
It’s important not to give up when there are setbacks and to develop a feeling for what is possible with each dog.
Because some dogs are simply overwhelmed by some decisions, others would get too crazy with too much freedom ( for example hunting).
So all our dogs are different and that’s what makes living together so incredibly interesting and exciting.
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