What’s wrong with this picture?
To the untrained eye, this is a beautiful family photo, of our Duke and Duchess and their son gazing adoringly at their dog Lupo.
Take a moment to look at Lupo properly though. Look at his eyes. With my experience, I recognise these as the eyes of a wary dog. A dog that doesn’t feel very comfortable about the direct stare of baby George. Now this may have just been a look which was caught in a split second, after a sudden movement from George and Lupo may have gone on to relax. Or, it may be a reflection of how he feels in close proximity to an unpredictable being. If it is the latter, then hopefully, over time, he will grow comfortable with George and any of his behaviour, and will feel more relaxed around him. Or, he is the type of dog that, while wary, is generally placid and will be able to sit quietly, let things happen and hope for the best.
However this is such a common mistake for a young family to make, to unknowingly expect their dog to be comfortable in every situation. Not knowing that he may consider George to be a threat to his safety. And day in day out, my time is spent helping dogs who aren’t able to do that. They start to warn, when their warning doesn’t get heard they press on and eventually they bite. Then their owners contact me saying “it was totally out of character, he’s never done it before”. I am then in the position to be able to help their owners to understand things from the dog’s point of view. To realise what is a high pressure situation, and when they are expecting too much.
I am also able to help the owners to show their dog that everything is okay, they aren’t under threat, nor are they responsible for their pack. Meaning, not only will their dog have no reason to bite, it will live it’s life as a happy, stress free dog. I much prefer to work with people who have a new dog, and want to get things right from the start. Rather than after something upsetting has already happened. Prevention is always better than cure.
If anyone happens to know the royal couple, please show them this article! The vast majority of the population don’t know what their dog is thinking in many situations. And why would they, we are a different species to them after all… This could just be a lucky shot captured at a split second of wariness, and being unable to get out of William’s arms and away from George, Lupo can only be expected to look a touch concerned. However, I would be so sad to read in the press that Lupo had bitten. If he did, it wouldn’t be his fault. I can see if in his eyes that he is uncomfortable at least occasionally. I can only hope that he is an extremely tolerant dog, or that his owners decide to take the pressure off him…