A perfectly nice evening destroyed because of one irresponsible dog owner...
We set out for a short evening walk after dinner and everything was still and beautiful with the sunrise making everything glow. Everyone was happy, tummies were full and the pace was leisurely. I let the dogs off in the field and they had a good sniff around, a little bit of running, but mainly just pottering around.
As we were heading back home we saw a person with a large dog in the distance, so I put Toby on lead. He didn't seem to care and carried on with his sniffing. A few paces on and I hear Toby growling. The other dog is approaching us at a fast rate and it is making Toby very nervous and agitated. Jasper and Lottie start running towards the other dog, but I call them back without any trouble.
I keep walking away with Toby, who is now all stiff and growling loudly. The dog owner started walking towards us, but there is still no calling the dog back, not a word from this lady and she is taking her time walking across the field. The dog is now right behind us, so I ask Paul to go and shoo the dog away (we can now see it is a big chocolate Lab boy with a cocky body language). I keep pushing on with Toby on lead and chatting to the other dogs to keep them with me, as they are still off lead. The lady is still not calling her dog in.
My heart rate is now right up, as I'm getting ready to protect Toby from this dog, that clearly has never learned that some dogs are not friendly. I shout out to the lady 'please call your dog in. Not all dogs are friendly!', to which she doesn't reply.
Paul has now blocked the dog and managed to grab it (big sigh of relief from me). When the lady has walked off with her dog on lead I ask Paul what she said and she apparently said 'he'll have to learn the hard way one day'.
I take a great disliking to people with that attitude for 2 reasons.
1. They are willing to let their dog suffer possible injury so that they learn not to go up to unknown dogs (so that the owner doesn't have to do the hard work of training her dog to come to recall!). Not only is that cruel and irresponsible, but it also carries so many follow up issues, I don't even know where to start. Their dog can turn into an antisocial dog too (quite likely). They might get seriously injured. I'm pretty sure that if her dog DID go up to a dog that fought hers and her dog got injured, that her attitude would change to 'that dog should be muzzled! Why would they walk such a vicious dog in a dog area?', completely missing the point that the so called vicious dog was under control, on lead, whilst her dog was not under any control and the whole thing was her fault in the first place!
2. Does any of these people ever think of the consequences for the other dog? Or the other dogs owner? The stress that Toby goes through when he sees an unknown dog approach is tremendous. He's not growling and snarling because he thinks he's the king of the castle, he's doing it because he is THAT insecure about having other dogs in his space. He's telling them to back off because he's nervous about them approaching. He's not inviting them to a fight, he's trying to stop them coming up so he doesn't have to get into a fight. Big, big difference!
Then there is the stress that I go through when I see my dog react with the panic that he does. The feeling of helplessness, when I can't always protect my dog from these situations, because I can't control other people and the way they keep their dogs.
Do they ever consider the consequences of their dogs approach, how much work they are undoing for us, the owners of anti social dogs? The closer the dog gets without me being able to shoo it off, the more of my dogs confidence in me, as his protector, disappears.
We've spent years getting him more relaxed around other dogs and we finally seem to be getting somewhere and he's so much better in general.
Have they ever stopped to think what even an almost fight with their dog would do to my dogs social skill set? It would wreck every single stone of trust that I've built up with my dog, every bit of trust he has in me, to sort these situations out.
So to those dog owners out there who let their dogs run around willy nilly, without a care in the world, even when they can see other dog owners putting their dogs on lead and clearly walking away, not interested in interacting with their dog, I say this:
Get your heads out of the sand and spend a little time thinking about the effects you have on other people and their dogs, not just about what your dog experiences. Just because your dog is a lovely sweet dog, doesn't mean that he should be allowed to rush up to everyone and everything. You have a responsibility as a dog owner to have your dog under control. If you don't have control, take a dog training class, or two! I could recommend a few good ones...
Not just for other people and their dogs sake, but for your dogs sake too! You are supposed to protect them from bad situations, not send them crashing into them, so they can 'learn a lesson'. Would you send your child into the road in front of an approaching car just to teach them to look both ways before they cross?
Am I wrong? I will be interested to hear your responses to this. Maybe I'm not seeing it from every ones point of view? Am I looking at this from the wrong perspective because I've had anti social dogs for the past 17 years?