It’s unfortunate that most dog owners are oblivious to the world around them. They walk the streets with their dog pulling at the front of the lead walking up to any dog or person it wants. Most dog owners believe they have a good understanding and good control of their dogs, so they unknowingly put Fido in compromising situations. Dog trainers hear horror stories all the time about fights at the dog park, or two dogs “playing” that went bad. These fights can usually be avoided if people take the proper precautions, and become more aware of their dog’s social graces. The truth is, most people do not read their own dogs well much less other peoples dogs.
Below are a few quotes, that all dog owners have either said or heard. Even though these phrases are common, they expose the truth that there’s myriad of uninformed dog owners. If you catch yourself saying any of the phrases below, it’s time to seek professional help… you need a dog trainer.
1. It’s OK, my dog is friendly…
Your dog is off-leash and charging towards me and my dog. I understand that you are saying this because you want to alleviate any potential fears my dog and I might have, but It’s no less unsettling. For one, my dog is NOT friendly… not friendly at all. Two, this statement probably means that you have little to no control over your dog and you can not call him back if you need to. My dog is a belligerently dog-aggressive mastiff, and she doesn’t take well to disorderly dogs. She believes it’s her job to correct them and put them under control. So guess what… your 45lb dog gets too close and my 95lb dog snatches your dog up and sends you both running off to an emergency vet visit.
This is a very real scenario. It boggles me how many people think that all dogs should meet. As humans, we don’t walk down the street greeting every person we see, so why should our dogs. Simply put, please have your dog under control… on or off leash. Think about the other person or dog. They may be fearful, they may be injured, they may be reactive, or just plain aggressive. Do yourself a favor, and never put your dog in a situation where you get the urge to say this. If you do find yourself saying this, know that your dog may be friendly, but you’re an asshole.
2. He Just wants to play.
Maybe you’re right, but you’re probably not reading the situation as well as you think… Your dog is play bowing, bouncing around, barking and nipping. The other dog may find this annoying or even take it as a challenge. Maybe the dog who “just wants to play” is showing a nervousness about the pack structure and becomes overly submissive. Excusing your dog’s awkward and potentially unwanted behavior as “play,” can create dangerous social interactions and reinforce bad social skills. These bad habits might work in your dog’s immediate play circle, but might not go over so well if he’s put in with different dogs.
Make sure play time is structured. Make sure you only allow your dog to play with dogs that either you or the other owner have enough control to make the dogs stop playing if things start to get too rough.
3. There was no warning!
The way in which dogs communicate is not that different from the way in which we communicate. Our interactions are filled with nuances, and subtle gestures. We constantly communicate without ever speaking a word. Dogs are the same. They have a complex way of communicating with their eyes, ears and posture that tell you exactly how they’re feeling about a person, dog or situation.
More often than not, dogs give multiple warnings before reacting. We tend to ignore the signs or not see them at all. When you say “There was no warning.” What you’re actually saying is “It happened so fast, and I didn’t see what led up to the actual incident.” Rest assured this is not uncommon. Most of us are not well-versed in the body language of dogs. With that being said, understand that you can miss things, but try to pay attention and prevent the same thing from happening again.
4. My dog is very protective of me.
but 9 times out of 10 your dog is not protective; but instead, worried and defensive. Often times we do not provide our dogs with enough structure or control. We leave a lot of their social interactions to go as they may. We let people walk up to them and pet them without a proper introduction. We let dogs and kids run up to them uncontested. Sometimes it’s the fear of being rude, other times it’s the fact that we just don’t know free reign isn’t good for all dogs.
As a result of us being polite or unknowing to the fact that we should control and manage these interactions, most dogs decide to speak up for themselves. They begin to lunge, snarl and bark. In some cases even nip or bite to tell people and other dogs to keep their distance. Most owners view this as protection… They’re wrong and right at the same time… the dog isn’t necessarily being protective of their owner, but rather themselves.
In some cases, dogs can be possessive of their people. They will exhibit “aggression” when someone hugs, their person, or another dog goes up to their person for affection. In this instance, your dog views you as an object that belongs to them… much like a bone. In any case, when your dog exhibits aggression, we suggest seeing a professional trainer to get control of the situation ASAP.
5. He knows better than that.
In conclusion, I hope you found some of this, if not all of it, enlightening. The goal of this article is really to get people to pay more attention to their dogs, and the environment around them. Watch for warning signs of discomfort, nervousness, or annoyance. Be aware of other dog owners and other people. Be courteous, kind and respectful dog owners.