It's OK! He's Friendly!...

I'm going to be really blunt here... NO!! IT'S NOT %^&**$£ OK!! 

Why in God's name do you think it's OK to let your dog approach another dog? Seriously, I'd love to hear your answers!

If you sense hostility in my post, it's because there is. Every single day, I deal with morons who think it is perfectly acceptable to allow their dog to approach another one without giving it a second thought. 

Recently, I encountered a common moron who was walking their dog OFF-LEAD in a public area, without a collar on, without a harness on, the guy didn't even have a lead with him and the dog did NOT have any recall. I happened to be partially hidden amongst long grass and bushes whilst the dog I had was minding his own business having a good old sniff and peeing on what he could. Fortunately for me on that day, I had my daughter with me who warned me a guy was approaching with an off lead dog, so I could prepare myself for what I knew was about to happen.
When the guy saw that my daughter had seen him, he shouts "It's OK, he's friendly!" So I shouted back "No, it's not OK as the dog I have is reactive!" Meanwhile, a French Bulldog (a real cutie, bless him) came bounding up to us and straight to the dog I had with me, whilst his owner who was a good 40 feet away continued to shout his name, which went ignored. I, on the other hand, wrestled amongst nettles, trees and shrubs with the dog in my care, trying with all my might to prevent a serious event from unfolding. The guy... he casually walked up, still shouting this dogs name, which still went ignored, approached his dog and had to physically move it on.

The guy did not apologise, he did not hurry up, he did not show any concern, HE WAS NOT BOTHERED! These are the kind of dog owners who should not be dog owners. Simple.

As the guy walked away, he was muttering under his breath (because he's clearly a coward) about us being in the wrong as we had an "aggressive dog". 

Unfortunately, this guy isn't alone. I encounter this every single day and it is absolutely exhausting. We are a nation of dog lovers. It's estimated that 26% of households own a dog (Source: pdsa), so why do so many get it so wrong?!

Paws for Thought...

A dog is not a thing, an object. It has feelings and emotions. Just like us!

Thought 1 - If you were walking, minding your own business, taking in the sights and sounds and you were suddenly approached by another person who came right up to your face, wanting to sniff your arse, maybe jump on you - what would you do?

Thought 2 - You're in a public toilet, someone pops their head over the cubicle wanting to chat, maybe climb in there with you - what would you do?

Thought 3 - You've recently had an operation and are taking things slowly, but some stranger runs up to you, pushes you, shouts at you, you try and tell this strange to stop and back off, but they don't - what would you do?

Thought 4 - You're sick, you just want a quiet, peaceful walk for some fresh air but the person you just passed wants to walk with you now, they don't stop talking, they keep nudging you and want you to talk to them and maybe walk a bit quicker - what would you do?

Thought 5 - You're sitting on a bench, contemplating life, you see someone is approaching and fear they may stop and sit with you, so you pretend you're doing something else to avoid eye contact but they don't get the message. They sit down on that bench, practically on your knee, they want to sniff you, they talk loudly, you try and move away and carry on with your pretend task hoping they'll leave you alone, but they don't - what would you do?

Thought 6 - You recently went through a very traumatic experience, you were jumped on by a gang of people and beaten up, badly. Now you're on edge all the time; any little noise, a car horn, people shouting, gangs. You're out needing to go to the shop and you suddenly find yourself with a group of people approaching you - what would you do?

Thought 7 - You had a really bad start to life; in and out of different homes, you faced abuse, you went hungry, you found yourself on the street and had to fight for survival. You don't trust people, they've let you down so many times, beaten you up, stolen from you. A stranger approaches you and clearly wants to be your friend, but you don't know this person, you don't know what they want, you don't know what they're going to do to you - what would you do?

Thought 8 - You're out with your elderly mum, she walks slower than everyone else, she doesn't want a fuss, she plods on because she likes being out with you but you're finding everyone you see wants to come up and say hello, often bumping into your mum making her wobble, they try to take your mum's hand and have them walk away and your mum is saying no and trying to get away. They say horrible things to your mum, calling her miserable and boring and shout abuse at you - what would you do?

Thought 9 - You're at work, you're trying to learn something new but keep being interrupted. Your trainer has to keep stopping because people keep coming up to you or your trainer, keeping them talking or asking them to do something. You forget where you're up to and have to start again, but you see someone else approaching so get distracted. What should be a 15 minute training programme takes over an hour and you don't end up completing - what would you do?

Thought 10 - You've taken your child out to the park whilst the weather's nice, you fear this because your child has a hidden disability and nobody understands because they can't see it, and you have to constantly keep explaining and justifying your child's behaviour. You don't take them to the park often, or alone, because each time ends in tears for both you and your child because you've met ignorant people who don't understand your child's behaviour or how their actions affect you or your child. You are often met with abuse and constantly get advice on how you should be bringing your child up and how to stop their behaviour. You're told you're a bad parent and your child is naughty and shouldn't be there - how would you feel?

Be Considerate...

It's not a lot to ask for you to be a considerate dog owner - having pawsed for a moment to think about those scenarios, has it changed your outlook? I really hope so! Just put yourself into that dog's paws and its pawrent's shoes. If it was your dog and you experiencing those things.
If you have a dog who is quite happy to meet anyone and everyone and doesn't have any fears or anxieties then you are one lucky son of a gun.

Not all dogs want to meet other dogs, not all dogs want to play with other dogs, not all dogs have come from a nice cushy background, not all dogs have 100% health - just like not all people will want to say hello, not all people will want to sit and chat with you, not all people have outgoing personalities and find socialising easy... THINK!

Read the Room...

  1. If you see another dog who is on lead, put your dog on their lead too until you've passed. It's literally for seconds but will mean so much to that dog and it's pawrent. Keep your dog close, it doesn't mean you can let your dog approach on the lead, unless you are told you can do so.
  2. If you see the pawrent move over to one side when they see you approach, walk on by. This generally means they are creating space between you and your dog and don't want you to enter it. It doesn't mean they are being ignorant or their dog is aggressive.
  3. If you see a pawrent keeping the dog's focus because you are approaching, keep walking. The dog is in training. It doesn't mean the pawrent is ignorant because they didn't say hello as you passed. 
  4. Ask permission ALWAYS to approach a dog or have your dog approach. Don't assume it is OK, because it's not!
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