Features March 2009 Issue

Understanding Your Dog's Body Language

A dog’s friends and acquaintances are important to his development.

Otto has gotten short shrift lately, poor guy. My husband and I had the brilliant idea of undertaking a minor home remodeling project over the holidays – just the bathroom! As is often the case with all-consuming home improvement projects, the dog was left to his own devices more than he should have been for a number of weeks. Months ago, that would have been a recipe for disaster; Otto would have excavated half the yard and chewed up everything he could have gotten his mouth on. But he must be growing up; even after a few weeks of minor neglect, the only thing he chewed up was one of my husband’s high-top leather work boots. Amazing, considering the number of tools and wood and paintbrushes left lying around. He amused himself largely with a new obsession: running along our back fence with our neighbor’s two-year-old German Shepherd Dog, Schotzie. Our lot is about 80 feet wide, and both dogs share a mostly unimpeded path along that entire boundary, with just an ivy-covered five-foot-high chain-link fence between them. They are both young, active, and bored (the neighbors have a new baby). So, up and down they go, thundering through the mud, whining with frustration and excitement. It could be worse; they could be fence-fighting and barking (and maybe, if we remodeled the entire house, it would advance to this). But they seem to enjoy each other. And at least they are both getting exercise!

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