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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Don't Worry He's Friendly!

Your Dog Is Not Friendly,
Your Dog is Rude.

Warning: Rant ahead!

This is Part 2 of my Dumb Ass Dog Owner (DADO) Series.

I've come to the realization that being a responsible dog owner means putting up with the bad behaviors of non-responsible dog owners and their stupidity.

Some trainers push the idea that all dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes should just "get along" which has led certain dog owners to think that their Fido and Fluffy should be loved by every strange dog they meet regardless of Fido's bad doggy manners and lack of proper socialization skills.

Recently I read a great article: He Just Wants To Say "Hi!" - by Suzanne Clothier. Suzanne has been professionally working with animals since 1977 her background includes obedience, agility, puppy testing, breeding, Search & Rescue, conformation, instructing, kennel management, and canine midwifery. She has taught all over the world, and promotes what she calls "Relationship Centered Training".

What I love is that this article puts into words what I have been trying to come up with for a long time - Is what I am dealing with actually Aggression? Or is it a response to Rudeness?

For humans - If a stranger launches themselves at you for a hug what would your response be?
  • Hug in return? I love hugs, lets hug!
  • Shove them away and run in the opposite direction screaming?
  • Punch them for fear of personal harm?
  • Maybe pepper spray their crazy self for what you deemed as an "attack"?

What if a stranger doesn't hug you, what if they instead run screaming at you yelling profanities?
Do you?
  • Stand your ground and wait to greet them?
  • Hold your ground and yell back?
  • Stand your ground and prepare to do physical battle?
  • Run away screaming for help?

What if the stranger doesn't approach you quickly, what if the stranger approaches you from behind and begins groping you? What is the appropriate response now?

These are situations that dogs are put into on a regular basis thanks to the thought that; "All dogs should just get along."
Photo Attribution: Takashi Hososhima

Unfortunately for many dogs they are punished for "snapping" when in reality they are asking for space in the only way that they know how. Us silly humans are the ones that miss all the signals and then blame the dog (who wanted some personal space) when a bite occurs.

And the age long excuse of "Don't worry he's friendly!" is just excuse.

Well guess what? Mine is not friendly when a dog rushes over to meet her.

Just like some people aren't social butterflies, not all dogs like other dogs. This does not mean they are aggressive or not properly socialized, it just means that for one reason or another be it age, personality, or energy they don't like another dog.

And not all dogs are as polite as their humans would like to think.

Lets look at Ziva...Most people have one of 3 reactions.
Yep, She's Truly Terrifying.

1. Automatically see a small but still terrifying "monster pit bull".

2. See a "scary pit bull" but then decide she's not so scary after all because she is cute and friendly.

3. Look at her and say something along the lines of, " she a puppy?" And then because of her size assume that she is friendly...thus releasing their dog to sniff before or even allowing me to acknowledge! Because, when the strange dog zooms in for an "overly friendly" - lets just call it what it is, RUDE greeting. Ziva responds with curled lips, and posturing, which then results if pushed further to a "physical correction" which some people see as a "bite".

She hasn't broken skin with other dogs but her bite is her final warning to leave her alone. And a snarling puppy is not something that you want to see.

On a good note I've gotten pretty good at maintaining distance when people want to chat - for this very reason. And reading her body language. I'm good at grabbing her or creating distance quickly to give her space while warning off the other owner that she doesn't like their dog.

"Get Out Of My Face!"  Photo Attribution: Martin Cathrae

Honestly this makes me kinda sad because I am very sensitive to the whole "pit bull" stigma, and I don't want her to be viewed as an "aggressive" or out of control dog. 

Of which she is neither, she is just a female, introvert, with a close circle of friends. Kind of like me actually...

Ziva's friend Tex-Anna
Ziva's friend Kekoa
Ziva, Dante, and Cable

How Do we Deal With Dumb Ass Dog Owners?
  1. Diligence is key! If we see what could become a "situation" we avoid it, go around, cross the street, turn around and walk the other way if we must.
  2. If another owner is walking a nicely mannered dog, I pay attention to Ziva. Keep a loose leash! What I don't want to do is set her off by transmitting any bad energy through the leash. If Ziva is ignoring the other dog then we will pass on by. But if Ziva is showing too much interest, or negative body language I have her sit and "look at me" until the other dog has passed us.
  3. If we are near home and I see an off-leash dog in the field, I take just Dante over for a greeting to FIRST ASK the owner from a distance - if his/her dog is friendly, I then allow Dante to greet the other dog to get a feel for the personality of the dog. And then, only then do I maybe bring Ziva out to play too. For the most part she just wants to play fetch, she's good at ignoring other dogs when she's playing.
Speaking of transmitting bad energy - remember that dog that bit me over the summer? That story HERE if you missed it. 

It was probably a month after "the incident" when I saw the little fluff ball again, he came right into my yard while I was outside with my dogs. I saw him coming, who wouldn't? He's white! And I must admit that I was very unhappy to see him, and just felt immediately angry. Number 1, he had bitten me, #2 he was out again, #3 he's a bite risk to all the kids in our area who are constantly playing outside. I think Dante sensed my bad vibes towards the little guy because next thing I know they were having a nice meeting, fluff ball was being friendly, and then Dante - my social butterfly, golden child who loves everyone and all dogs, ROARED, LUNGED, and chased that little fluff down the street with me running like a mad woman after him hollering, "Dante! Come!".

Thankfully Dante didn't go very far from the yard, but he certainly scared the daylights out of fluffy - who took off straight in the direction of home.

On that note...I am thankful for people who are kind enough to understand when I say that we are working, and do not want to "say hi"., Thankful Thursday Weekly Blog Hop, pet centric
Heart Like a Dog

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  1. Great points!

    I really hate "friendly" off leash dogs..... I had a foster dog this spring who was afraid of big dogs. I got into a couple of potentially scary situations (fortunately, nothing happened in either) when a off leash dog came running up to us, with the owner following behind saying -- it's okay, he's friendly! During one, the dog did NOT have a good come and it took a bit for the owner to gain control of the dog. If your dog doesn't have an awesome come, it shouldn't be off leash, ever!

  2. We do not let our dogs meet other all. I do think that is a big problem with some of the chain store trainers. They think all dogs should automatically be pals. Then people leave their classes thinking the same thing and just try to tell them different. Sounds like you have a good plan though. :) Thanks so much for joining the hop.

  3. Unleashed dogs are the bane of my existence. I actually had a dog charge at us while we were walking and the owner sat on the curb explaining, "Don't worry, she just wants to say Hello!" I was tempted to growl at her myself!

    1. I hate that phrase! It has me yelling back, "mine is not!". I carry pepper spray just in case of run in's.

  4. I also think that some trainers contribute to the mindset that dogs just wanna be pals. I had to threaten to drop out of one class before the trainer would get one of the other dog owners to control her dog…she believed in letting all the dogs in the class free play before and after class, but it only takes one moment for that to go wrong.

    1. Yikes!! My trainer would just die if she heard that. We are confined to colored sections in our training class room, we're there to work not play/meet the other dogs. It's been great for Ziva to be surrounded by dogs and not have anyone invade her personal space.

  5. You did such a great job making Suzanne Clothier's article relatable.

    The belief that dogs always have to like each other and want to play together is an insidious belief that does a lot of harm.

    In Europe, where dogs are allowed in many more public places than here in the U.S., dogs don't greet each other all the time like Americans expect them to here. In truth, appropriate behavior for dogs in public is to basically ignore each other.

    Perhaps Ziva is an introvert. Or perhaps she's just a cosmopolitan pup who'd feel more comfortable in a French cafe or riding a German train. :)

  6. Thanks for adding such a great post to the blog hop. There are some dogs that Delilah just doesn't like. For reasons known only to her. I've seen her lunge and freak out at a GSD that was walking quietly past and the very first time she reacted was at a gentle Great Dane that just came up to sniff. Then there are obvious times like when a dog is barking or lunging at her or if a dog sticks their nose in her butt when she's not expecting it. That dog can expect to get a face full of chocolate and it ain't the yummy kind. ;-)

    I wish more people got it, but you are right, sometimes the best things we can do is avoid the situations. Sad but necessary.


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