When other dogs are playing exuberantly in close vicinity, Bowdu has a tendency to interfere. This is what I mean when I say he’s a referee, or sometimes a killjoy.
He’ll circle the group, barking or rooing. Sometimes he will dive in to make physical contact — a muzzle-jab to the side or a nip. Sometimes he looks pretty scary when he nips, but this is not aggression.
Sometimes he’ll leap right into the path of oncoming traffic as if to say STOP ALL THIS RUNNING!!
He has a pretty wide soup can and is quick to grouch when others intrude upon his space with all their funnin’.
But I think as the video above shows, his grumping seldom amounts to much. As long as the other dog gets out of his space (or we get out of theirs), he’s fine a moment later. The vast majority of dogs we meet are well socialized and understand him clearly, though they might look at him askance for barking orders. I do not apologize when he makes such noises. Usually, I tell Bowdu, “It’s okay,” or “Let them play,” (especially if Bowpi’s involved) by which I mean you have no need to take this any further, and we keep walking. All he wants is his own space anyway, so I try to redirect his focus towards the path. Bowdu is the main reason I keep moving at the dog park; it’s not that I’m being cagey or uninterested in conversation, I’m just trying to keep my Shiba from getting bored enough to boss around other dogs.
A couple months ago at one of our parks, I lingered at the top of a hill while another couple of dogs were playing. Bad move on my part — Bowdu stepped in to referee, but in this case, one of the dogs was really pissed about the uninvited interloper and retaliated severely enough that my dog was hurt. While Bowdu was being a pushy brat, I think the other dog owner and I both agreed that the punishment was rather disproportionate to the offense. It was a little bit like ramming a car for honking their horn at you.
Personal information was exchanged on the spot — one of the very few times in hundreds of dog park visits that this was necessary. Ultimately, we didn’t need to see a vet, but I took the incident as a very real reminder that not everyone, especially not every dog, is going to be so forgiving of Bowdu’s intensity. And he’s not exactly shy about calling out dogs who far outweigh him.
I think constantly about how to deal with Bowdu’s refereeing. Maybe we (dog and human) are responding appropriately, which is why that seemed like such an anomalous experience. The only surefire way to get him to stop doing this thing that comes so normally to him — and to many other dogs, as I’ve observed! — is to not go to dog parks. We did quit going to the little, fenced-in parks where Bowdu has nothing to do except mind other dogs. His tolerance for rambunctiousness seems directly correlated to acreage which, yanow, makes a lot of sense in human terms as well.
Bowdu wouldn’t be a Shiba if he wasn’t a bit incorrigible about some things… Since I’m never going to be able to train away his conviction in his own importance, I’ll just have to give his ego plenty of room to disperse.