Dog’s Eye View: My dog is friendly
Not all people are social butterflies. Not all dogs are social butterflies.
Some people may prefer solitude or small groups of friends as do some dogs. Others may enjoy large groups of people and get along well in large groups of dogs.
Here is a human analogy of the above statements that you may have seen on TV:
An ordinary citizen is being surrounded by reporters with cameras and microphones. Perhaps this person just did a good deed and the news channels want to share it with their viewers. The newscasters are well meaning, but the citizen’s heart may be pounding, her eyes may be dilated and she may have sweaty palms. She may be glad to end the interview and get back to her own home, away from the pressing crowd.
Have you watched a person walking their dog on leash around town when they’re suddenly confronted by someone’s loose dog?
The on-leash dog and the owner too, may elicit some of the same fear behaviors (increased heart rate, sweaty palms) mentioned above. (A dog’s paws may sweat when they are stressed too.) Perhaps this owner’s dog is fearful of other dogs in close proximity and might bark and lunge to communicate to the loose dog that he’s way too close.
I’ve seen this too many times. That person is me and so many other dog owners who are conscientiously teaching their dogs what to do when confronted by loose dogs. I call them “loose dog emergency skills”.
We want to enjoy a walk with our dogs too. But we have more rules to follow. And we take very seriously the responsibility of keeping our own dog and other people’s dogs safe.
Yet again, well meaning but misinformed dog owners who let their dogs run loose on the trails may call out, “Oh, don’t worry, he’s friendly!” We hear it every day.
This is the other side of that scenario. When people do this, I think that they have very little knowledge about what trouble they might be causing. They are only concerned with their dog’s behavior and not what happens when that dog makes contact with another dog.
My experience also tells me that most people do not read their “friendly” dog behavior correctly. Often their dog is approaching in a silent aggressive manner. Remember that your loose dog is responding to the body language of the on-leash dog.
These encounters do not always end well. A fight can ensue.
I always hope that people will be responsible for their dog’s behavior on the trails by keeping him on leash. My dog’s friendly too. He’s just not a social butterfly.
You might have met us. Stuart is a white bull terrier wearing The Red Bandana © that signifies, “give us some space please.” We’re practicing our loose dog emergency skills.
Sandra Kruczek, CPDT/KA, is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training with more than 25 years of experience. She can be reached at http://www.totalteamworktraining.com.
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