Sunday, December 13, 2015

According to His Nature...

The photo of Hank with his nose on the chicken on last week's blog post has inspired questions about how I taught him to get along with something he might instead consider to be dinner.  I'd have to say that it's about half nature and half nurture.  Hank has a calm, gentle disposition.  He is obedient, eager to please, and has always been easy to train. I can take no credit for this.

The nurture part I can take some credit for.  Because pitbulls have a vicious reputation at the present moment, I decided when I rescued Hank that he would be a good representative for his breed.  I began his training the first day I got him, and have carefully established and maintained my dominance in our "pack".  We went to obedience class when he was a puppy.  However; I think the most important part of his training is that he was NEVER allowed to roughhouse with anyone or chase anything.  I know it's fun to wrestle and "mock fight" with a puppy.   But, they soon grow up and this "game" gets much less fun.  If Hank has something in his mouth I want, he's to give it to me and tug games would teach him the opposite. 

All that being said, while Hank is a very good dog, I never leave him unattended with the livestock.  He is still a predator and they are all prey animals.  He did not grow up with livestock (he was two before we got the goats and the chickens came later than that).  When I am out there, he looks to me as pack leader for direction.  He mimics how I behave with the livestock.  But I have no doubt that if he was left alone with only his deepest instincts to guide him, he would soon be having chicken dinner.  Even when I am there, there are moments that a sudden move or loud cackle will pique his interest.  His demeanor will change and I can see the hunter there, right beneath the surface. 

That is his nature....

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