Dogs can be so particular – who can be their friend, where they sit in the car, where their friends sit in the car, who can touch them, which toys they like, where the humans feet can be on the couch, etc. Or maybe it’s just Border Collies, Labradors don’t seem to care so much. Let me tell you about my friend Mowgli.
This dog has been a great teacher for me– he has taught me appreciation for strengths as well as weaknesses. On top of it, he has taught me to be respectful of both.
Mowgli can go most anywhere with me. He gets along with the majority of people and dogs we meet and is better trained than most companion animals. I plan on helping him pass his Canine Good Citizenship test soon! I find him to be an absolute pleasure to be around and keep him with me often. There is one caveat – he has to ride in the front seat – and I had to put a barrier up between the front and back seats. Mowgli let me know early on that he did not like the Labradors to touch him in the car. He was sure to let them know as well. Confined space and unsolicited touching – I wouldn’t have liked it much either.
Mowgli told his dog friends in the best ways he knew how. He whale eyed, and curved his body – ducked his head and showed his teeth. Some of the retrievers are respectful and lean or look away – others found Mowgli’s frantic looks of discomfort to be intriguing and investigated further. Mowgli let me know about his concerns with growls and snaps.
My first plan was to teach Mowgli an alternative behavior. After some troubleshooting and internal debates I realized there was no good alternative behavior to teach. If I forced Mowgli to ride in back, and allowed the other dogs to continue making him uncomfortable, I wasn’t going to teach him anything useful. I suspect he would learn to hate the car, possibly distrust me, and be wary of Labradors. None of those sound like a good, healthy, happy solution.
Next option was not bringing Mowgli with me places. This only lasted a month or two. How do you deny your favorite Border Collie – here’s a hint, you don’t. They are far too adorable and use those awkward bendy bodies to wiggle into your heart.
Last option – give Mowgli his own space. I put a gate up behind the front seats. The backseat dogs can stick their heads around it and get in a good sniff of whoever is up front. It is by no means that secure – but it has made all the difference. Letting Mowgli have his own safe space has been magical – he has his own seat, he knows the other dogs can sniff him and will happily lean around to sniff back, but they can’t invade his personal space bubble. I now have a happy Border Collie who can’t wait to go out on walks and adventures with his friends (or to see his favorite Auntie).