While I have covered this subject in previous columns, the most common problem people have with their dogs happens to be social issues. From behaving at the vets, to nail trimming, to greeting people and their dogs properly, to your dog’s sense of well-being which can be effected by the amount of time spent socializing your dog.
Time is the real problem, in general people give their human children 18 years to grow up and act the way society expects, while expecting our dogs to do the same in 1 year or so. People often adopt dogs that may have issues due to poor treatment, or come from conditions where human contact is minimal, getting these dog to be social is more of a challenge but not impossible to overcome.
One of the most overlooked quality’s of a dog is whether the dog will fit the humans lifestyle, we see a dog that tugs at our heart and if you like dogs the heart overrides the mind. So if we discover the dog is nervous while being examined by the vet or refuses to have nails trimmed or if you like breeds that have bad reputations and if these dogs are not social and act aggressive at vets they may refuse treatment. I believe that most vets do their best to make dogs comfortable. There are just as many dogs that are not bothered the least while at the vet, my two Maine black Dogs that I adopted in 2002 loved going to the vet and they loved seeing them. I could get them to lay on their backs to have nails trimmed. Then there is Lady our female Great Dane that we adopted in 2009 who suffered from Hypertrophic Osteo Dystrophy (a painful condition that effects bone growth) which affected her lower legs. She absolutely hates to have her feet messed with, and I don’t blame her for this nor do I try to change her mind about it, but at least I know what caused her issues. The point being is a dogs attitude toward something has to have been learned and if it is a bad attitude then we need to change how they see things.
Not all people have five dogs in their house like me and it is hard to get all of them out to socialize but they have learned that dogs come and go here and with my encouragement accept the new dog without many issues arising. Many people just have one dog, lets say that person has a normal American life, busy. The dog gets a couple of walks a day, maybe a dog park (if they live near one), maybe they have a friend with a dog, they get together but the dogs don’t get along and owners tend to scold dogs for being difficult. We just taught the dog that it might be scolded when interacting with a new friend. Insuring that all meetings with new dogs are positive is one of the keys to ensure success.
The next issue and it happens more than it should is irresponsible dog owners who cant control their dogs on leash or off leash. Maybe you live in a rural area, you’re walking your dog on a leash down the side of the road and all of the sudden you see one or two dogs charging toward you and your dog and perhaps your dog gets ruffed up a bit, your dog just learned that walking down that road could be life threatening and that perhaps all other dogs are a potential threat. Now your dog refuses to walk down that road and when it has the chance to interact with a friendly dog yours acts defensively, perhaps even nipping at a friendly dog, your dog is saying “Hey the last time I met a new dog it hurt me so you better keep your distance or I’ll show you all my scary teeth, growl at you and perhaps nip a chunk of your fur off just to let you know I am serious”. Then the owner tries to shield their dog from other dogs and the owner is now paranoid when other dogs approach. At this point the dog is dealing with its own fears and now can feel the tension the owner is experiencing, that’s a lot for the average dog to deal with so the Fight or Flight instinct kicks in and if your dog is on leash it only has one option left. Now due to no fault of your own you have an anti-social dog. If the owner ever wants to bring their dog back to being able to meet new dogs, it’s going to take TIME patients and understanding.
Most dogs are smart enough to find a way to avoid things they don’t like or afraid of and when they find you will give up easily, they just taught you to give up. There are things we can do to avoid these situations, be prepared to defend yourself and your dog, It is my strong opinion that it is our duty to protect our pets from danger or being traumatized by dogs with no manners. Call the local ACO, there are leash laws in Maine and anyone who would allow their dogs to roam free in any neighborhood is not what I like to call a real dog person.
I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, former Therapy Dog volunteer, currently volunteering for Above and Beyond Great Dane Rescue fostering, doing home checks and temperament evaluations, and doing volunteer work for Pets For Vets providing companion dog training.
I do not claim to know everything about dogs but from my experience, training and fostering has given me a unique look into The Mind of Dogs.
The current pack consists of Dexter our 12 year old Maine Black dog, Lady the 6 year old Great Dane, Krypto the 3 year old Great Dane, Lilly the sweetest little 2 year old Pit Bull and Tippy the 2 year old Great Dane who is our current foster and needs a home and Now we only have one very Brave Cat Mim who is twelve, Her sister Nala crossed the rainbow bridge a few weeks ago. Nala would kick the Danes butts if they got out of line with her, she was an awesome cat and we will miss her. Thanks for reading.
Jeffrey Snipe is a guest blogger and newest trainer at Paws Applause. If you would like to learn more, schedule a training, or suggest a blog topic, please email Jeffrey at email@example.com