One of the biggest criticisms I hear particularly from non-dog owners is how they hate strange dogs running up to them when they are out. Especially when they are dressed in good clothes as that is the time you can guarantee the biggest, dirtiest dog will jump up at them, with it’s owner shouting in the back ground “He’s just being friendly”.
Friendly, maybe, but no matter how friendly, that dog is definitely bad mannered and poorly trained.
Now here is where I defend the owner, I am the owner of a mostly very well behaved retriever or at least I was until many good meaning people rewarded his bad behaviour or actively encouraged his bad behaviour.
One of these being ‘jumping up’.
This was very quickly taught by various people allowing him to jump up at them and then cuddling and fussing him. Jasper now will often try his luck at someone because as a dog he is a chancer. Maybe this time it will get him the reward he wants, maybe that biscuit or even just a big fuss. No matter that 8 out of 10 times it just gets him nowhere, he still tries his luck!
Jasper does not jump up at us and members of our family and he now has to re-learn that he cannot jump up at anyone else either.
So what can we do as dog owners and members of the public?
Firstly, keep your dog under control and if you can’t when there are people are around then you should put your dog back on the lead. Keeping the dog focused on you during the walk is the best distraction, make yourself fun to be with. Carry something your dog enjoys maybe a ball, or even just a squeaky toy that will grab your dog’s attention. And when he does come back make it fun, with a game, a fuss or a treat. Try to vary it rather than just a treat every time. The dog may well weigh up the options and go , “well I’d rather run over to that person they may have something far more for me!”
And sadly sometimes the well-meaning member of the public does! A lovely big fuss or a treat , lots of kind words, all making the running off a rewarding experience.
It can be difficult for us as walkers when we have new or young dogs out for the first few times. Until that dog learns which ‘pack leader’ it is out with, he may wander off to join other groups. Our regular dogs will not go off after another person or dog, if we pass another dog they may say hello and then as we walk on our dogs walk on. We do not want to get into a game of chase after the new dog and we rely on that dog seeing that we are more fun to be with than the stranger so the last thing we want is for other dog owners or members of the public to make a massive fuss, particularly of the puppies when they approach them. By all means if we have approached, ask the dog to sit and ONLY when in the sit position give any type of attention. If the dog starts demanding, the attention must stop. And never offer a dog that’s not yours treats, firstly it makes it nigh on impossible to get the dog to come away from the treat supplier but you are also in danger of being’ mugged’ for treats next time the dog see’s you out.
The dog really needs to listen to our terms, as a well mannered dog will benefit from far more fussing than an unruly one.