Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
– Abraham Lincoln
We all know the saying “If my dog doesn’t like you, then I don’t like you either”. Sometimes, that’s true. Dogs have an innate sense of who someone is at their core. They’re great judges of character. Mostly, because they live in the here and now. They’re not worried about what mistakes you made 5 years ago or even what you did 2 weeks ago. They look at who you are as individual at that exact moment.
However, other times, there’s just no one answering their question of “is this person a threat?” “can we trust him?” and they decide that they have to answer the question on their own.
We have a friend who we hang out with quite a bit outside of our apartment. He’s met Porter a few times, but we’ve always been present during their interactions. Now, our friend is very trustworthy and a great person. We’ve accepted him into our “pack” if you will, so when we’re around, Porter does as well.
Last week, I was away for the weekend, which meant boys night for Porter, Tall Guy (my boyfriend, who we just assume Porter refers to as Tall Guy), and a few of his friends. When Tall Guy removed himself from the apartment for a minute, Porter decided he was wary of our new friend. He went into his crate and barked at him until Joe came back.
Porter needed his question of “Are we sure we can trust this guy?” to be answered. And his Pilots (Tall Guy and me) were not around to answer it. So, he went on the defensive. However, the minute Joe came back and answered his question, he was calm again.
This doesn’t mean that our new friend is now labeled as “untrustworthy”. It just means we need to be able to answer Porter’s questions when he’s asking them. The more we let him know that our new friend is acceptable, the more he will respect that answer.
So, before you judge someone by how your dog reacts to them, make sure you’re offering an answer to their question first. I’m all for trusting dog’s instincts. They’re quite amazing. However, not everyone that they may be growling at is someone to keep out of your life. Trust your Piloting skills as much as you trust your dogs instincts.