Lessons from the Dog: What Maggie has Taught Jack

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maggieajckinyardWhen we first got Jack he was pretty out of control, overweight, overwrought, under-exercised and under-stimulated. He was reactive to strangers and other dogs. When we got Maggie just over a year later, she was close to being shutdown, fearful, underweight, under-exercised and under-stimulated. Polar opposites in some regards and so alike in others. Jack’s response to being under-exercised & under-stimulated was anxiety and fear-aggression, Maggie coped by shutting down and retreating.

Jack and Maggie have lived in perfect harmony with each other for 18 months. It was easy to see what Maggie learned from Jack. His extroverted personality allowed her to come out of her shell slowly and safely. She trusted HIM first and felt safe following his lead. This allowed her to grow her self-esteem and gave her the confidence to be her own dog. But what did Maggie have to offer Jack? She’s a shy, petite, fearful thing that he pretty much ignores, so what could he possibly learn from her?

Jack had fear-aggression issues and was not a fan of strangers either of the human or canine variety when he first joined us. We have worked hard with him over the years to overcome this and he is 100% better, although I have a tendency to steer clear of potential ‘situations’ so he can continue to be successful. As a result, he doesn’t have much opportunity to practice. But, two things happened this past week relative to Jack’s behavior that made it clear to me what Maggie has taught him.

The first instance was when our acupuncture Dr. came to the house. I put Jack in a stay at my office door while I let her in. Maggie came over and greeted her in her usual friendly fashion (even though she’s fearful, she enjoys people coming to the house)  and we proceeded to discuss her shoulder and a bit of her medical history. Jack remained in his stay until I released him and then he calmly came over, sniffed at the Dr.’s feet and her bag and then went on his way – no reaction whatsoever. Exactly the same way he had seen Maggie greet her.maggieschoolsjack

The second instance was one morning, we were out in the front yard and there were a couple of dogs, a horse and their owner walking down our street. We live on a dead-end street and don’t get much foot traffic, but they had cut across the open land across from us and were strolling down Jack’s street. In the past Jack would freak out a little at seeing people in what he considers his space and would charge the fence barking ferociously, but that day, he and Maggie ran up the driveway together, quietly ran to the corner of the yard and greeted the dogs with wagging tails and a happy demeanor, no barking, no raised fur or stiff tail, he was the picture of a friendly dog,just like his sister. I was so proud of him and it dawned on me that Maggie’s easy going acceptance of strangers – human and canine – has rubbed off on him and he no longer views them as a threat but as an interesting and fun event in his day.

What a wonderful gift she has given to him.

I feel lucky that the teaching between Jack & Maggie has been only good behaviors and they haven’t taught each other any mischief…yet.  How about you, have your pets taught each other good behaviors or mischief?


The Monday Mischief Blog Hop is hosted by Snoopy’s Dog Blog, Alfie’s Blog and My Brown Newfies



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  1. I haven’t tallied the subtleties that could be positive or negative but I am sure that Chester has taught Gretel how to be less anxious over the years. That’s part of why the rescue accepted our application – we had an older, calmer dog that would help her to learn the proper responses.
    Jessica recently posted…Urban Hiking Adventure: Washington Park ArboretumMy Profile

  2. That’s so great. We are moving into a house with 2 other dogs soon, and I’m worried that Del will pick up some of their bad habits. They bark a lot for no reason. They don’t do as they’re told. Hopefully, Del will teach them some good habits. Here’s hoping!
    Rach recently posted…Pet Blogger Challenge 2014My Profile

  3. I know it sounds trite, but what a great post! We often joke that our older dogs do the puppy/young dog training around our house. Maybe it’s just monkey-see monkey-do, but our dogs set such a great example for the newcomers.
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted…Rosie’s Duke Blue Devils Dog Collar from Mutts N Bones | Monday MischiefMy Profile

  4. I took over guard duty from Katie a few years back and now she is my backup. Bailie learns so much from us, but the bad as well as the good. We think she is such a mellow puppy because she sees how mellow we are.
    emma recently posted…We Found Our Groove | GBGV | Monday MischiefMy Profile

  5. I’m always amazed at how much dogs–and cats–can learn from each other. I think it’s too easy to underestimate. Whenever one of my cats finds a new place to leap to or crawl under, there’s often another one watching and saying “Aha!” And the dogs keep watch on everybody. If a cat or another dog sees something on the floor–even a speck of dust–all the others come running to see what the interesting thing is. It might be food! I think the dogs also teach each other who to bark at: the neighbor who whistles (YES!), the UPS man (NO; he brings treats!)

    –Woofs (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats.
    Susan and the gang from LifeWithDogsAndCats.com recently posted…Story: Oh, Brother!My Profile

    • The watching to see what the other is doing is so true – that happens with J&M everyday on our walks. Maggie is much more thorough in her sniffing and Jack will frequently run past it, then see Maggie sniffing and come charging back to check it out.
      mkob recently posted…Lessons from the Dog: What Maggie has Taught JackMy Profile

  6. There are so many ways Moses and Alma have influenced each other. One of the more hilarious ones – Alma has taken up marking like a male dog typically would (leg up and everything), as learned from Moses. On the other hand, since adopting her, she’s definitely influenced him to be more playful and active.
    So endearing to read how Maggie and Jack have positively influences each other!
    Jen K recently posted…Treats at the Dog Park?My Profile

  7. Good girl, Maggie! That’s wonderful that they’ve been able to help one another. They seem like such a good pair. Must’ve been great to see them at the fence without a negative reaction from Jack.
    Lindsay recently posted…Guess That Mutt (10 photos)My Profile

  8. What a wonderful surprise! How great for Jack AND for you! Our babies are litter mates, so they bark together and share each other’s neuroses, for the most part. I’m wondering, now, how to time the next dog. I don’t think I want to wait until these two pass on (they’ll be 12 soon), but don’t really want to be a three dog house, either. *sigh*
    Flea recently posted…Snow Dogs! FBM 56My Profile

  9. I have always found that my dogs learn behaviors both positive and negative from each other. It is great when they mimic each other learning tricks, walking on their leash, etc. Not so much when one tells the other to bark relentlessly at the next door neighbor or how to sneak treats! I’m glad yours are learning the more positive ones!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…The Thunder RollsMy Profile

  10. I love this post! Rodrigo taught Blue that it was fun to jump and lunge at cyclists. Blue taught Sydney to be more protective of our property. Rodrigo is teaching Sydney how fun it is to roam a little. And Rodrigo and Sydney are teaching the puppies to sit for treats, to go through the doggy door, and to go outside to potty.

    It’s fun to watch our dogs interact and learn things from each other.

    Thanks for giving me a smile today. This post brought up fond memories of Blue and what he taught all of us.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Don’t Let a Major Injury Inspire You to Get Trupanion Pet InsuranceMy Profile

    • Hmmm…some of those aren’t really the behaviors you’d like them to learn. I guess the good comes with the bad doesn’t it. Jack barked a lot more when Becca was alive because she was a barker – he hardly ever barks now.
      mkob recently posted…Lessons from the Dog: What Maggie has Taught JackMy Profile

  11. That was a great story, I’m so glad that they trust each other and help each other adapt and connect so well not growing up together. Mine teach each other mischief. LOL
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Monday Mischief~Football Anyone?My Profile

    • I think it’s Gambler teaching the mischief…can’t believe Nellie (or Glory) would do that!

  12. Its really neat how dogs teach each other, isnt it? Mine do it but they are often teaching something naughty

    retro rover

  13. That is wonderful how dog teach each other. When I came to my mom and dad they had an old dog. He was 12 years at the time and a mix. He learned me a great deal of all I use today. Unfortunately he became ill at the age of 14 year and then he died. I loved him so much.
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  14. Well my Mika is 4 years old and we got lexus when she was 4 months old, lexus is now a year old and has learned so Much from mika, and I think mika enjoys being a role model. Mika definitely helped with the training! Lol I’m glad it went that way!
    ((Husky hugz))
    “Love is being owned by a husky”
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…OMD! Mondays ❇My Profile

  15. What a smile this gave me (and a few tears in my eyes too!). I can so relate to this one.
    Jasper has taught Daisy how to play and Daisy has taught Jasper that strangers can be nice people. She also taught him that one doesn’t need to react to everything by barking. She never barks and so he didn’t do much of it either (until Cupcake that is). Guess Cupcake had to teach him something. 🙂
    MelF recently posted…Pet Blogger Challenge 2014 – Letting GoMy Profile

    • Maybe Jasper can come visit and teach Jack & Maggie…neither of them play so it’s one thing they can’t teach each other.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: SeleniumMy Profile

  16. Aw, this is so sweet. What a great pair. 🙂
    Lassie taught Petal a lot, which is a great comfort to me now that he’s passed on. Ella taught Petal a lot too before she passed away, some good things and some not so good things, lol!

    I’m glad Maggie and Jack have each other to learn from. 🙂
    Marquie recently posted…Monday Mischief: TeasingMy Profile

  17. That is a wonderful story. Sounds like they are a perfect pair.

    All I could think about with the horse is that Storm would be hoping they would leave her a snack…lol. No kidding. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Round & RoundMy Profile

  18. What a lot of wonderful team work training that’s going on at your pad, both doggie and human! You rock guys! 🙂

    I hope you’re having a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂
    snoopy recently posted…Monday Mischief – Stuffy Outside!My Profile

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