pittsoccer33 wrote:But my entire life my grandfather had dogs. Mutts, they all tended to look like Toto. I was always scared to death of them. I think it was the unpredictability - the barking and jumping and snapping towards me. They were always on an extremely long chain and lived in a dog house, so it was mostly impossible to get to the front door without being "confronted." Come to think of it I never thought of them as being pets, they were always an unpredictable wild animal to me.
You probably aren't going to want to hear this, but when I read that bit and then read this next bit......
pittsoccer33 wrote:I watched the Westminster Dog Show recently and really was amazed how none of those dogs jumped or barked. I could handle that. But I've never been around one.
.....Hate to say it, but there's a correlation to be made there.
Dogs are unique animals. Through thousands of years they have been bred for the specific purpose of companionship with humans. That is true of all breeds; companionship may be a secondary characteristic, but a guard dog that snaps at its owner is a useless guard dog. They are keenly aware of human emotions and psychology. Of course, they have no concept of 'psychology' or 'emotion' in the same way that the Stig has no concept of 'money'..... but can they sense when a human is in distress? Absolutely. Can they sense when a human is timid around them? For certain.
That's why it drives me bonkers when parents let their kids squeal and chirp around dogs; those animals are particularly sensitive to high-pitched sounds, and coupled with the animated body language of an excited kid... well, the dog thinks it's play time, and will be inclined to jump up on the kid, and that can be trouble.
So when you say that you were always ill at ease around your grandfather's dogs...... they could sense that. And that made them ill at ease with you. Those handlers at Westminster? Not ill at ease. That's how you can get a kinetic dog like a border collie to stack for two minutes of confirmation judging while a stranger pulls their lips open to look at their teeth and checks out their junk. Calmness is absolutely key when being around dogs.