Ritka and Dog Sociality

One of the reasons that we think of Ritka as a very special dog has to do with the story that goes with this photo:

The dog playing with Ritka here had not been properly socialized as a puppy. It had some tendency toward aggressive behavior, as is typical of insecure dogs when forced into contact with other dogs.

Ritka, though, is an uncommonly good reader of dog behavior cues. We had sessions where Ritka and the other dog would meet and eventually play, as in the above photo. Ritka would properly interpret the small cues of the other dog that, if ignored, could lead to an aggressive encounter. Instead, Ritka consistently gave back submissive and play signals. These training sessions helped the other dog figure out some of the social cues that it had not had a chance to learn as a puppy. This sort of training can easily make the difference between a dog that fits into a home and one that gets surrendered to an animal shelter. And a dog surrendered to an animal shelter with a record of aggressive behavior has two strikes against it already.

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