...of an unpleasant kind...
A client of mine just had one of those exceptionally annoying encounters with a fellow dog owner that I wanted to share:
Earlier this week I was working w/ my dog at the school on their playground. We were doing a long sit/stay…I was about 30 ft away.
I saw a guy w/ his small dog across the street outside the fence. Of course said dog was not on a leash…Soon they came into the school yard. I called to him and said I was working w/ my dog, and to please keep his dog away or put him on a leash. Of course it didn’t happen.
The guy and dog kept approaching us. My dog went into a down position. I moved closer to her and picked up her leather leash, as the other dog still keeps coming. The owner was not really making any effort to control his dog. Again, I asked him to please control his dog.
Finally the other dog comes up to my dog and starts the smelling routine. My dog’s still in a down position, not really liking it that this dog is not controlled. Luckily, it’s a smallish dog, who then jumps on me!!! So, unfortunately for the dog, he ran into my knee as I brought it up on his chest…hmmm…he bumped off and scampered away…I said, as I lifted my knee… "OFF!"
My dog was still not really engaged. The owner hustles to put a leash on his dog, giving me a scowl and saying, “You didn’t need to kick my dog” to which I replied, “ I didn’t, I kneed him.”
He got the dog and walked a little ways off, then turned around and came back toward me and said, “You’re not a very nice person.” To which I replied, “whatever…” and kept walking and working w/ my dog!
Maybe he thought I’d give him the knee in a certain part of HIS anatomy!!! Jeez, it is truly amazing to me how people who are absolutely in the WRONG think I’m wrong for protecting myself and my dog!! I do now carry the citronella spray in my pocket all the time…
I share this episode not because it's unfamiliar to most of us, but as a reminder to keep your eyes and ears peeled for dogs and owners who are not aware of proper canine etiquette. Luckily, in this story my client and her dog were able to avoid a serious confrontation. That is not always possible.
And my client is right - the world is full of people who 'own' dogs, but have no idea how to be a good dog owner.
The very best you can do is lead by example.
1. Teach your dog appropriate greeting methods (and no - intense sniffing and jumping on each other is NOT how polite dogs greet).
2. When you meet someone in the world whose dog is less than well-mannered, your first priority should be to keep your own dog relaxed and safe.
3. If possible, use the encounter to educate fellow-dog owners - as nicely as possible. Keep in mind, many of them just won't 'get it.'
4. If #3 is not an option, get your dog out of the situation as quickly as you can - even if you offend the other person.
Look at it this way: You will probably never see that person again, and you've spent less than 30 seconds of your life with them. By comparison, you'll spend at least 10 years with your dog. Which relationship REALLY matters? The one with the idiot stranger, or the one with your canine companion?
That's it from this end of the leash.Jennifer Hime is the owner of Front Range K9 Academy in Wheat Ridge, CO. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-839-1102, or on the web at www.k9counselor.com