When did so many owners and their dogs forget how to be polite when out in public?

When did so many owners and their dogs forget how to be polite when out in public?
    When did so many owners and their dogs forget how to be polite when out in public
    Photo by: Airman 1st Class Devin M. Rumbaugh |  VIRIN: 171014-F-FM551-0274.JPG

    When did so many owners and their dogs forget how to be polite when out in public?
    Picture the scene... a beautiful autumn day, the sun is shining, the leaves are falling in a fiery cascade of color around your feet; you smile with the sheer joy of spending quality time walking in nature with your beloved dog.
    And then you see it! Out of nowhere comes an off-lead dog, thundering through the undergrowth,
    all slobber, mud, and uncontrolled enthusiasm. The owner is nowhere to be seen (although they may be that person in the far distance, on their phone or shouting ineffectually) and the dog has only one intent — to charge up to, bounce on, and play with your dog, no matter what your dog’s view might be.
    Suddenly your idyllic walk turns into a nightmare, as your dog is jumped on, bowled over, pushed around, or even attacked, even though he was walking close beside you or was on-lead. Sadly, this is becoming an all too common occurrence. Virtually every seminar I do, when it comes to Qs & As at the end, someone asks what they can do about off-lead dogs who come up to their on-lead dog while they are out walking.
    Many of these people have dogs who are not that sociable, may be reactive, or may be scared of other dogs. And while they are happy out walking with their owner, forced interactions are a serious issue for them.
    The owner of the off-lead dog (if they even notice!) will nearly always be heard to shout: “Don’t worry, he’s friendly,” so, of course, if this incoming canine missile gets told off by your dog, you are instantly to blame. Your dog is ‘obviously aggressive’
    because he doesn’t like being bounced on by a leaping Labrador who may well be intent on humping his ear! I mean, who doesn’t enjoy that?

    Now, if you are the owner of a sociable dog (or if you think you are the owner of a sociable dog!), I can see how you maybe can’t imagine there is anything wrong in your dog wanting to play with every dog he sees. Maybe you think that a ‘normal’
    the dog should want to interact with every other dog they meet, whether they have been formally introduced or not! Well,
    I have possibly slightly disturbing news for you — they don’t; it’s rude.
    Let’s just put this another way. I am a sociable person. I enjoy meeting up with friends, spending time with them, socializing, and having fun. If, however,
    I am out shopping and a strange man comes up to me in the supermarket,
    starts being overly friendly, standing too close to me, and touching me inappropriately in frozen foods, I’m going to batter him with a bag of sprouts. That ’s not me being aggressive or abnormal, that’s all about him being rude, somewhat threatening, and totally inappropriate.
    It’s the same with dogs. Those dogs who charge up to everyone and jump all over
    they aren’t ‘well socialized’ or ‘normal’ — they actually don’t have appropriate
    social skills. Not only that, but their owners do not have control of them either. Part of
    socialization is that dogs learn appropriate ways to interact with others — not just that
    they force their attention on everyone and expect them to welcome it.
    If the dog who has been bounced on retaliates, two things can happen.
    The ‘bouncer’ can take the hint and apologetically back off, or they can get offended and escalate the encounter to an aggressive one... and lo and behold, we have a dogfight, and it seems these are happening more and more often.
    My social media feeds constantly have posts from people whose dogs have been attacked when they have been walking quietly on-lead or under close control.
    News stories of assistance dogs being attacked by off-lead dogs are becoming more and more common.
    People who are being totally responsible end up in situations where they are being blamed for their dog attacking another when all the dog did was react to a situation where they perceived they were under attack (real or imagined).
    And, of course, there are dogs or breeds who may not start trouble, but, if it happens, they will certainly
    finish it (like me with the sprouts!), so they are the ones who end up getting the blame.
    When did we stop understanding dogs or getting it so badly wrong? Is it when
    ‘socialisation’ started to become a buzzword without any kind of definition being attached to it? A socialized dog is not one who wants to play with every other dog they meet without a grumble or a crossword ever being uttered. That is as unrealistic as me wanting to get up close and personal with the creepy guy hanging around the vegetable counter.
    Being well-socialized means that a dog can be around other dogs without getting
    over-aroused, reactive, or stressed and can pay attention to their owner while
    doing so. It also means that they can play with other dogs they know and
    that know them, and can, with care and good management, be introduced to
    other well-socialized dogs without fear of inappropriate behavior.
    Similarly, because I am well socialized (mostly!), I can go to a supermarket and be happy that there are other people there.
    I’ll ignore most of them, without bashing them with frozen goods, because while
    I don’t know them, they don’t worry me; I am quite able to get on with my shopping in the company of strangers.
    I may make a friendly remark every now and then to someone I need to get past,
    or who are serving at the checkout, but that’s about it.
    If I see someone I know, however, I’ll be happy to see them, will interact, maybe hug, and have a chat even go for a coffee; in other words, indulge in socially appropriate behavior.

    So let’s give our dogs a break here. Don’t start to worry that your dog is aggressive because he has a grumble about being jumped on by a rambunctious canine in the park. Get annoyed with the owner of that dog instead — because their dog is poorly socialized and not under control.
    Start protecting your dog from the rude park bullies — don’t expect him to have to put up with it. Avoid them, take evasive action, teach your dog to go behind you,
    ask the owner to control their dog, or, if all else fails, throw a handful of tasty treats
    in the approaching dog’s face to fend off an inappropriate interaction, and use the distraction to
    remove your dog from the situation. The most important thing:
    for pity’s sake, keep your dog under control! Don’t let him go up to another dog who is on-lead. You have no idea why that dog is on a lead anyway.
    Is he scared? Reactive? Is he recovering from an operation, going through a behavior modification programme? Is he contagious? It doesn’t really matter, but letting your dog run up to him does; it’s rude! Don’t be the person who the rest of the dog walking
    community tries to avoid; don’t be the person who gets reported to the police or the
    dog warden; and don’t be the person whose dog ends up causing injury to themselves,
    other dogs, or even other owners.  And if you think you might be that person, keep
    your dog on a lead and find an accredited, experienced behaviorist who can help (just don’t accost me in a supermarket!).
    @Posted by
    writer and blogger, founder of Our Dogs Are Loved .

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