I’m on a rant today!
It happened along the old railway track running out of Mickleover – I think you can get as far as Berwick-Upon-Tweed if you keep going. I never have.
I was walking my dogs when a little cream cockerpoo (I think) came bounding round the corner in full play mode to say hello. It was so obviously friendly that I let my dogs greet him and they were playing happily within seconds… until the owner came round the corner and called it back. The little dog, despite being engrossed in a game with mine, turned immediately and raced back to his owner.
I was impressed. It was an excellent and instant recall.
And it deserved a lot of praise, but instead the owner yelled at the little dog for having left her in the first place!!
a) The dog didn’t understand a word of the lecture he got at full volume
b) All he understood was that he was in big trouble
c) Would you return to someone who punished you for doing it??
Dogs don’t understand English. They are instant animals. If you praise them or tell them off they associate it with their most recent (or probably current) action. Which in this case was returning to the owner, not leaving her!
We continued our walk, which took us past the woman who had put her cockerpoo on his lead. She was obviously a little het up and eyeing my sixteen week schnauzer puppy with suspicion. (She does look scary, as you can see from the photo). So I called my dogs to heel and we walked past at a respectful distance.
That little cockerpoo, who had been so friendly and confident away from her owner started barking and lunging toward my dogs in full fear mode. All the negative feelings from the owner came straight down that lead and into the dog. She was nervous of my dogs (?!) so he felt he needed to be. I expect if I’d stopped to talk to the owner (believe me, I was tempted) she would have said he had dog aggression problems.
I expect he did – but only with her on the other end of the lead!
Our dogs pick up our attitude so easily. If we are nervous about dogs coming towards us, they will be too, and it will manifest in fear or aggression. If we walk past confidently, they will not perceive a problem. It’s all about socialising them properly and having the right attitude ourselves. We are the pack leader – we have to set a precedent.
Not to say we should be too laid back about them approaching other dogs. I always call my dogs to heel if there’s a dog I don’t know, and put them on the lead if necessary. But I don’t panic, because I know they will panic too. Which will cause my schnauzer to fight and my spaniel to flight.
I wish I could have stopped and talked to this lady. Maybe given her a card for a dog training school which would help her overcome her problems. Because they are her problems. Unfortunately she’s passing them on to her dog!
Rant over! Have a good day!