I walked around Burnaby Lake last Sunday with my very well-trained dog. One hundred per cent of the dogs I met were not vicious – playful, excited, happy or nervous, but not vicious.
The same could not be said for about 80 per cent of the owners who were nervous, timid, aggressive or fearful. If their dog started to approach my dog – both with tails wagging – many of the owners deployed such tactics as yelling at me to keep my dog away from theirs, pulling their dog in so close it was walking on its hind legs only, ducking behind trees or in one instance, even climbing a tree.
What is the city creating where people are so afraid of their dogs approaching another they have to climb a tree to protect their bichon frise from an inquiring sniff?
It seems to me that the problem is not that there is an “increase” in vicious dogs, but there is a definite increase in people who don’t understand dogs and dog etiquette.
They don’t understand their own dog, nor do they understand the need to socialize their dogs. A puppy is always going to be bouncy and full of energy – but that is no reason to stop it from approaching another dog. By doing that, the dog will never learn manners and down the road, it may do something that may be interpreted, or actually, be vicious to other dogs or people.
It seems to me three things need to happen here: The city needs to be a lot more proactive in encouraging people to socialize their dogs through classes, etc., and in the process, the owners should educated as to what is normal dog behaviour and what is not.
2. The owners need to be more proactive in teaching their dogs the basics – come when called, sit, heel, stay.
3. Dog owners need to be less fearful of dogs interacting when they meet. I always call out, “My dog is friendly!” when approaching people with dogs that want to meet – but then I have a well-trained dog who has been socialized.
Other people need to be less fearful and more confident about their dogs socializing – even puppies have to start somewhere.
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