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Loose Dogs And Fly-By Petters

Mar 4 / Sally Gutteridge
What Should I Teach My Dog First?
If your worried dog is happy with other dogs, which many are, then meeting other dogs on walks will be fun. It's important to stay aware though because unfortunately some loose dogs can cause trouble. Just as you are learning to read the body language of your friend, I suggest you take some time to understand the intentions of others.

The world we live in is awash with dysfunctional dogs, which is sad but true. With little opportunity to learn from well-balanced elders who teach manners to their young friends and family, dogs can become thick-skinned thugs. It’s not their fault but their behaviours may include running up and getting in another dog’s face repeatedly, jumping in or knocking a dog over, not reading a gentler dog’s behaviour, and ignoring natural cut-off signals. All of this can be overwhelming even for the most social dog. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of wonderfully empathetic, kind, and genuinely responsible dog walkers in the world and they are truly a pleasure to meet. It only takes one that isn’t, though, to affect the wellbeing of our dogs forever.

Sadly, sometimes people have their dogs off the lead and don’t recall them, even when the dog is aggressive towards others. Unfortunately, we can’t completely trust people to be thoughtful or sensitive to the needs of our dogs, so we have to be prepared to protect them from stressful experiences on our own. Often these people can’t read the intention of the dogs they are with and so simply don’t know what their dog’s body language means.

So, my advice is, learn to understand dog language and yet still be aware that the odd person you meet may be irresponsible enough to put both their dog and yours in danger.

Fly by petters are also common, particularly if your dog is small, cute, and frozen with fear. They approach with desperate hands for the touch, assuming that because your dog is quiet and not looking scared to them, she doesn’t mind. From the dog’s perspective she has a strange human looming over her with a huge advancing hand and super- focussed staring eyes. If this happens to you don’t be afraid to stand up for your friend, as she can’t do it herself. Try to do it in a way that elevates their understanding, but if you can’t don’t be too hard on yourself.

If you find yourself shouting at someone not to touch anyone or anything who doesn’t belong to them, live and learn. Don’t blame yourself, we are only human after all. Sometimes being ignored by one more fly by petter is one too many and they become the straw that broke the camel’s back, especially when you’re in charge of the welfare of a dog who is overwhelmed or worried. 

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