How many times have you been out walking your dog and another dog is approaching with its owner showing no sign of giving you and your dog some space? And as you move away, they look at you all insulted or confused because their canine can’t socialize with yours. “It’s ok, my dog is friendly,” they say. I get this all the time, but mine isn’t friendly and it won’t be party time if they get anywhere near each other.
Fortunately, most of the regulars I meet while walking my 12-pound terror know to cross the street and wave from a distance, but this is not always the case. Usually, I’m the one who has to make a quick lane change. This is one of many things dog owners do without considering the consequences. Let’s take a look at some other doggy faux pas:
Ignoring “No Pets Allowed” signs
You love your dog but there are many public places, such as restaurants, malls and stores where dogs aren’t welcome or are explicitly banned. Brazenly sneaking in your animal is disrespectful to not only the place you’re in but to people who may have allergies or a serious fear of dogs — plus, there is the chance of an “accident”. Recently, I saw a dog being walked right under the “no dogs” sign on the boardwalk in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. Please respect the rules.
Of course you should be allowed to bring a bonafide service or support animal into places where other pets may be banned, but falsely claiming your pet is there for emotional support or to guide you in another way is rude and dishonest. Service animals must be specially trained, tested and certified and flaunting the rules makes it harder for those dog owners who truly depend on their certified service animals.
If you know your dog is prone to aggressive behaviour toward others, particularly children and other dogs, it is rude and dangerous to bring that dog to public places. Sadly, some owners of aggressive dogs are either in denial about their nature or mistakenly think they will always be able to control them. This is when people or other animals can get hurt or even seriously injured.
Some people banish their dog to the backyard when it won’t stop barking and while it may make you feel better, it is sure to upset your neighbours. Talk to your vet about possible reasons for this behaviour and ask about measures you can take to address it. Don’t make it someone else’s problem by putting the dog outside.
Abandoned poop bags
It’s bad enough when you don’t pick up after your dog but seeing a neatly tied up bag of dog poop lying in the street, on the sidewalk or anywhere else, it just boggles the mind. Often, there is even a city trash can nearby but please, when there isn’t, take your dog’s droppings home and dispose of them properly.
Off leash dogs
Unless you’re in a dog park, your dog should be on leash when not on your property or in a fenced yard or on a cord if at home. Even if it follows voice commands, finds the leash uncomfortable, if you’re in the woods and don’t see anyone else or you think it’s so gentle and sweet that nothing bad can happen, the most well behaved dog can have an off moment and snap, startle or run away. Don’t let it be yours.
Ignoring your dog
As we like other people to listen to us, we need to be aware of what our dogs are trying to tell us. When dogs bark, snarl, lunge or whimper, they are trying to tell you they are uncomfortable with the situation and you need to take it seriously. Dismissing this behaviour can put someone or another dog in danger. And put the cell phone away while you and your dog are at the dog park and give it your full attention. If it gets upset or becomes aggressive with another dog, you’ll need your hands free and all of your attention to help it out.
Being naturally gregarious, many dogs love to show their enthusiasm for human friends by jumping up on them. You may think this is cute but it could catch a person off guard, knock them down or cause other injuries — particularly with children or senior adults.
Other issues worth mentioning are not allowing your dog to relieve itself just anywhere, such as all over someone’s garbage or recycling bins, shrubs, flower gardens or car tires. Dogs need boundaries. Also, forcing your dog to accept being petted, hugged or otherwise manhandled when it is clearly resisting can make it more fearful of strangers over time and can build a negative association to people or animals approaching.
Our pooches, like our children, rely on us to set boundaries and demonstrate good behaviour. Let’s not let them down.
Judie Amyot is a volunteer with Animatch, a non-profit dog adoption service. For more information, visit www.animatch.ca