Most of us who love dogs strive to be responsible pet parents by making sensible decisions regarding the way we raise and live with them. But we’ve all encountered those annoying people that give the dog-loving population a bad name. While these folks are hopefully few and far between, they can have a significant impact on the well-being of others.
Of course mistakes, accidents and unforeseen circumstances happen when you’re a canine parent, but if you recognize yourself in any of the below situations, it might be time to change your habits and think about how you and your dog’s behavior affects others.
No one wants to be a rude pet parent, but at some point we all wear that badge, even if we weren’t intending to do so. Here is a list of seven common human bad behaviors:
1. Allowing your dog to give unwanted greetings to others.
Unfortunately, not everyone likes dogs. Unbelievable I know, but there are some people that don’t want to interact with your gorgeous bundle of fur, so don’t allow your dog to charge up to strangers uninvited.
I speak from experience. Sadie, my gorgeous chocolate Lab, was a social butterfly and loved nothing more than to say hello to everyone. But while we were walking in an off-leash area, Sadie decided it would be a good idea to run toward a picnicking family and say hello.
Now, I love it when 70 pounds of Lab come bounding toward me, but they weren’t so keen. Fortunately, her recall was solid, and the family was very understanding, but the look of pure terror on their faces as my big, brown, goofy dog came leaping toward them was enough to make me a lot more careful the next time I walked in that area.
2. Not cleaning up after your dog.
Most dog parents would benefit from cleaning up their act a little, but if your dog needs to go, make sure it’s not on your neighbor’s lawn, and pick it up!
People don’t appreciate yellow patches on their grass, nor do they appreciate picking up piles of festering feces, so bring poop bags with you on walks, and clean up no matter where your dog makes his deposit.
3. Being a know-it-all.
Every dog lover thinks he or she is an expert and, while you know your dog better than anyone else, you don’t know others, so avoid giving out training or any other advice unless you’re a professional or really know what you are talking about.
Making comments about someone else’s dog like “You should have him neutered” or “You should show her who’s boss” might not be the best advice, so keep your lips sealed, unless it is to recommend a good trainer or favorite veterinarian.
4. Ignoring leash laws.
We have all experienced the person who walks his or her dog off leash, ignoring all the posted signs and leash laws. “Don’t worry, he’s friendly,” they say as their dog bounces up to the bundle of nerves you have at the end of your leash.
And why, when you tell them nicely to leash their dog because yours is not friendly, do they continue to walk toward you as you’re desperately trying to implement an emergency U-turn or cross over to the other side of the street?
5. Not paying attention to your dog.
Allowing your dog to roam the neighborhood (even when he’s the “neighborhood dog”) is the gold standard of rude pet parenting, as is not watching your dog at the dog park, disciplining or feeding other dogs treats at the dog park without the person’s permission, commenting rudely about another dog’s behavior, interjecting your training philosophy without being asked and reading or talking on your cell phone while your rambunctious dog is wrestling with someone else’s overwhelmed pooch.
6. Forcing hellos.
Forcing your dog to go say hello to everyone he meets is also not fair on your dog or the people he’s being forced to greet. Be aware that your dog does not want to say hello to everyone, just as you don’t want to interact with every stranger you pass on the street.
If you have a nervous and/or reactive dog, don’t allow him to stare, stalk, crouch, lunge and bark at other dogs as they go by. I see lots of younger dogs that will lie down, stalk and stare at dogs on walks, and this can be very nerve-wracking and trigger a reaction from even the least reactive of dogs.
7. Allowing your dog to bark incessantly.
And last, but by no means least, please don’t let your dog bark for hours in your apartment or in your yard all day and night. The backyard barker is an all too familiar sight, but it’s a major disturbance, so be aware of your neighbors, as well as your dog’s emotional needs.
At some point we might all flout these commonsense pet parent “rules,” but try as hard as you can to be aware of others. Your dog, family, friends and neighbors will thank you for it.
Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer best known as the star of the hit TV series It’s Me or the Dog. A best-selling author, Stilwell frequently appears in the media as a pet expert and is widely recognized as a leader in the field of animal behavior. Find dog training tips and Stilwell-licensed trainers at positively.com, and learn from Victoria at vsdogtrainingacademy.com.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!
Tell us: What bad and rude behaviors from other dog parents drive YOU crazy?