Dog Lessons on Life 101: Betty on choices

I’ll admit it, my dog Betty is not perfect. Yes, she’s super cute. And yes, totally sweet. But she can also be very naughty, act dumb(I assure you, she is not a stupid dog) and oh the barking issues.

When the doorbell rings and she’s protecting her territory, fine, she’s doing her dog duty. But on the walk, and at random, it’s pretty annoying how aggressive she can be. And let me remind you: she’s 10lbs.

For a long time I thought Betty was kind of into it, just having a bad day. As a side note, it’s hard to know what that even looks like for a well taken care of(AKA spoiled) dog. Did she wake up on the wrong side of the bed, have nightmares, not get enough belly rubs? But I digress.  Whatever the case, I just thought she had something to work out on other unsuspecting dogs during her walks in the neighborhood.

Until yesterday. We live on a pretty quiet street, about midway down a Manhattan-sized incline, and when we turned the corner to head back to our front door, Betty stopped in her tracks and refused to walk another step. I looked ahead and saw one of the fluffy dogs she tends to tangle with about 30 feet ahead of us turn back and look at Betty.

Betty, stopping in her tracks, a reenactment

Betty sniffed and promptly led me into the intersection. I thought she wanted to cross the street, but instead, she led me on the street side of the parked cars. There was no oncoming traffic, but she still kept us close to the side of the cars, trotting down the street. As we would pass each car, I could see her glance between cars, ears perked – was she actually checking to see if we passed the fluffy offender?

Turns out she was. The very car after we passed the little one, Betty cut us right back to the sidewalk and returned to trotting right by my side.

Yeah yeah, I walk the dog, the dog doesn’t walk me. But this was SO STRANGE I HAD TO SEE WHERE IT WENT.

And honestly, I was pretty blown away by Betty’s desire to extract herself from a situation she did not want to participate in. I wish you all had been there to see it, but I’m telling you, she was not having it with that other dog and took matters into her own paws to keep herself intact around it.

I’ve learned a lot from my and other’s dogs. Mostly, I have fun with it and this certainly entertained me to no end, but I am also struck with how clearly my small dog communicated the knowledge that a situation was arising in which she could not manage her reactivity and impulsivity, and took action to make a different choice than what always happens.

What can you do in your relationships to identify triggers and make different choices in light of that information? Sign up on my website for your Powerful Relationship Top Tips to get you started!

Betty, pleased with herself & her choice-making.



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