Protectiveness

Shadow, our little Bichon Frise, has taken to sitting on the top of our couch in the living room so that he can look out the front window and bark ferociously at anyone who passes by our house. This is a recent (and not at all desired) development, so he must have gained some sense of ownership and protectiveness over the area of our property. We live in a semi-detached home, and he also lets our neighbours know when they’re encroaching physically or audibly on our space. His concern with external noise is the most ridiculous, as he’s the loudest creature in the two households. I’m surprised they still speak to us.

What I find most interesting is how Shadow can always tell if it’s someone from our family walking up the sidewalk to our house, as he doesn’t bark at us but just starts wagging his tail and running excitedly to the door to greet us. Thankfully he’s not protective of us when meeting people or other dogs outside. He only seems to bark at passersby while sitting at the window.

When we had our first child, I turned instantly into an overly protective parent. I’m not sure if this was a built-in instinct or I just went a bit wacky, but I definitely had to work at allowing myself to feel comfortable with some aspects of danger and risk. We lived in an apartment in those days, and one set of neighbours constantly smoked marijuana on their balcony and the smoke would often waft into our home. I went weeks without sleeping properly because I was constantly worried about whether the smoke would impact K’s health. I must have Googled a thousand articles about the topic and even called nurses and medical hotlines to ask for advice. I can’t remember whether R gave me beef liver treats to teach me to ignore my protective nature, but I do know that these treats work extremely well with Shadow. Sometimes people and dogs just need a tasty incentive to help us ignore our basic instincts. I think chocolate works better with humans though.

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