While working on our off-leash heel with the long line, Lola the GSD would occasionally set sights on a squirrel – sending those big Shepherd ears towards the sky and sending ME a message that she is thinking about chasing them!
When you think about how a dog behaves on a walk, you often find that certain things grab their attention and bring their ears forward and alert! What people often don’t realize is that constant or steady environmental alertness (fixating or reacting to things around you and your dog) leads to an impulsive reaction. Whether it is lunging towards a dog, diving after a squirrel, blowing up at cars as they pass, barking at a stranger, or jumping on someone as they walk by.
Forward ears (and a wrinkled brow) are usually a big red flag to a chain reaction of events about to happen: lock, load, explode! Basically, the ears are the first thought of “hey, look at that thing” and the longer they look, the harder they stare, the closer “it” is, and all of a sudden you’re struggling with your dog.
Instead of going through that unfortunate sequence of events, let your dog’s ears tell you what they are thinking! If their ears are forward/alert more than briefly it’s time to assess immediately your plan of action: correct, interrupt, move away, and/or re-engage!
Forward ears are so cute for pictures, but are a sign of struggles to come on your walk!