We Don’t Do That Here

My 2 years old dog Angelo is very sensitive. He will give his toys away, get upset if you look at him the wrong way and prefers everything to stay the same. He has hearding, protective and OCD qualities. He is also silly, friendly and still a puppy himself. I knew he would love having a little furry brother. Based on his behavior with Rocco the cat, I had a feeling he would help us train the new puppy. Angelo has seen us tell Rocco the cat to stop scratching the couch enough times that he has taken over. When Rocco claws the furniture, Angelo will nose him, as if to tell him to knock it off. If Rocco doesn’t listen to him, Angelo will get an adult. We call him The Enforcer.

When the 9 week old puppy Valentino, pulls my pajama leg with his teeth, Angelo will grab a toy and poke Valentino as if to distract him. It works! Valentino adores his big brother, and responds to his direction. Watching these 2 interact is entertaining and fascinating.

It has been said we shouldn’t apply human characteristics to animals. I will just compare the power of role modeling between species because I believe “monkey see, monkey do” is present with dogs and humans. As I am writing this, Angelo started barking because he noticed something in the window. I suspect it is his shadow. But the little one is right there with him to join in on the yapping. I can tell he has no idea what all the commotion is about, but he wants in!

In grad school, I remember learning about Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. “Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” I see that concept get played out during my work as a domestic violence counselor. Behavior gets mimicked from one generation to the next. It’s so prevalent it’s frightening.

Apparently the follow the leader mentality exists in the canine world as well. I am very happy Angelo knows the rules and is such a good boy. Now I just need to get Valentino to watch Angelo pee outside!


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