Every day I see a constant stream of posts and memes in my news feed from owners and supporters of ‘reactive*’ dogs (* or insert your preferred term here) laying down guidelines for the ‘It’s OK he’s friendly’ brigade. "Call your dog away, put it on a lead, give us space" etc. etc. There’s no argument from me about these requests. All things I would hope any responsible dog owner would put into practice around other dogs.
(Although let’s be honest “It’s OK he’s friendly” really means ‘His recall is crap so I can’t call him away’ and I interpret “He only wants to play” as ‘My dog was desperately seeking engagement because I was so engrossed in my phone’. )
I get it. That desire to lay down some ground rules. I really do. I’ve got challenges with my dogs too. Only in my case I suffer the ‘It’s OK, I’ve had dogs all my life’ brigade. Months of work undone with one thoughtless action (or worse, an ignored request!) But I would like to think this is not a ‘them and us’ situation at all. Surely it’s always about being a responsible dog owner, having some awareness and respect for others, no matter what the dog and his particular behavioural needs.
And that is my point. Responsibility. None of us can easily control other people or their dogs, especially not by laying down ranting ground rules on social media. We can truly only train, manage and be responsible for our own dogs.
I’m not being funny but if you have a dog who ‘reacts’ to other dogs, maybe don’t choose a popular dog walking beach on a sunny weekend and expect every other dog owner to ‘give you space’. I’ll do my best, because I am responsible for my own dogs, but seriously if you and your dog need the entire beach maybe it’s not a good choice for you both right now.
You are responsible for making choices on your dog’s behalf – what he eats, what he learns, where he exercises. You may not be being fair to everyone else by expecting them to accommodate your emotionally challenged dog if you don’t adjust your own choices. And if he’s not coping then you are definitely not being fair to your dog! (Hint: If he’s kicking off, he’s not coping.)
Perhaps the most responsible thing you can do for your dog is to learn how to help him cope better by seeking help from a suitably qualified professional. Just saying.
If you've enjoyed this post and would like to read more like it, sign up here.
To find out how I can help you and your dog, send me an email and let's talk!