Out of the many conversations I have with owners wanting help with their dogs, there are several recurrent themes.
A significant one is that owners dearly wish other people would not allow their dogs to race up to them when on walks. It made me wonder. Who is it that keeps doing this, anyway? I don’t know anyone whose dog enjoys being dog-bombed. It is really bad manners.
I’ve worked with countless owners whose dogs have been crashed into, rushed at, pinned, humped or simply bounced about by a boisterous dog. Upon complaining to the owner (often way off in the distance) they are told that the dog is only trying to be friendly. That may well be the case, but it is also true that dogs behaving this way are displaying very poor social skills. Whilst I am a big fan of dogs getting used to other dogs, it is a fact that some dogs are simply too rough. They are sometimes called ‘Tarzan dogs’ because they swing straight into action!
Not every dog wishes to be sociable. Dogs, just like people, can be timid, introvert, even fearful. Others can be enthusiastic and fun, to the point of overdoing it. If the extremes meet, it can be the worst scenario of a terrified dog trying to escape, paired with an ebullient lump of a dog being so friendly that resistance of any kind is futile. This does not teach good habits for either dog. It leaves the timid one with a well-honed fear of other dogs, and the bouncy dog with the expectation that every dog is fair game for a pummelling.
I realise this sounds a little hectoring in tone, but I am sure many of you are agreeing. The message from these dog owners is clear. Please do not allow your dog to behave in this way.
A good recall is easy to teach and helps to settle a dog down. It teaches them to take their time and listen to you rather than rush in to situations. It could even save your dog’s life one day. Next time you are out and about, BEFORE you let your dog off lead, make sure that he or she comes back to you when you call, immediately, every time. Only then can you allow the further freedom.
Let’s make our community a great place to own a dog, by starting at home with our own. It would be great to have parks, woods and walks where we can be ‘Tarzan-dog-free’.
Karen Wild is an APBC registered behaviourist and qualified dog trainer with 20 years experience. She is also an ABTC clinical animal behaviourist. Her practice ‘Pawprint’ offers behaviour referrals for vet practices and puppy classes in the local area. Karen is a training and behaviour contributor for Dogs Today magazine and author of ‘What your Dog Wants’. To find out more visit www.karenwild.co.uk or call 01778 560465.