Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When in doubt do as the locals do

While I had planned on continuing the "lightness comes from letting go" post from yesterday sometimes I just have write what I have in mind.

In my years as a owner of cats, dogs, and chickens in addition to horses I often witnessed how an animal when placed in a new environment will quickly assimilate to what is considered normal by the other animals in that environment.

Given that yesterday morning when I went out feed the horses I was greeted by a very emaciated young dog with a string collar well on its way to being embedded in his neck. Of which my husband I have now decided to help find a good home I am currently witnessing the "when in doubt do as the locals do" phenomenon once again.

The moment he was brought in for his bath the resident super cat walks right up sniffed his nose and then proceeded to give him a thorough inspection. Given the take charge attitude of the cat Gus the guest dog stood perfectly still and once the cat was satisfied she calmly walked off and over the last 24 hours Gus has yet to make any moves toward either cat. (the other is less brave but upon watching him for about an hour she too resumed her regular routine)

Once Gus was clean we allowed him to watch the our two dogs while in a crate.  Both of our boys gave him a sniff but quickly came back to their normal quiet selves.  They ate supper, visited with both cats and settled in for the evening after spending the day outside.  After supper I let all three dogs out after being sure that the resident yard rooster who lives in the backyard with the dogs was safely in bed.  Our dogs showed Gus where to do his business and started to teach him the dog rules the household.

Once I let them all back inside I put Gus back in his crate since I was not in the mood to supervise and he fussed a bit since all the other animals were still outside.  When it was time for bed I put our biggest dog who just turned a year old and is house broken but moves around too much on the tile and wood floors at night in his crate next to Gus and turned out the light.  Gus following the lead of the "Giant Puppy" settled down and didn't make a sound all night.

Then this afternoon when I had the time I introduced Gus to the backyard rooster BB who is so confident and considers himself to be one of the dogs that he walked right up and actually made Gus take a few steps back so he could watch me through the patio doors.  As of now Gus has been out back with both dogs and the rooster for nearly 4 hours.

The point of this long winded tale is that animals tend to act like those around them.  So if you have really good role models for a new horse or animal to look up to the new animal will usually pick up those good habits and behaviors, often very quickly.  The same goes for when you introduce a new animal to a less than well behaved group of animals.

Years ago my grandparents had a rottweiler who would chase any and all cats at his house but would share the back porch just a few feet from the cats at my parent's house when my grandparents left for vacation.

I personally often have seen this time and time again the horses that come in for training.  They may be a terror with bad manners at home, and impossible to catch out in the pasture and yet after just a few days in my herd they quickly behave as well as my own horses.

Knowing this I often use my other well behaved animals to teach any new animal that comes in.  When I want to clip a new horse for the first time I tie them super close to my own horses who clip very well and "show" them how I expect them to behave.  The new horse not wanting to look a fool to his new friends will often accept the clippers and clip as nice as my role model horses.

On the flip side since I know that animals learn from each other I am careful to try and shelter any new animal from any bad habits my other animals might have until they are well acclimated and have seen far more good behavior than bad.

All this being said stay tuned to the continuation of "lightness comes from letting go" in the next post.

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