I would like to pose a question to you: if you saw a cute kid on the street, would you go up to that child, completely bypassing the parent, reach out your hand, touch them and say “HELLO” in a really cute voice? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to answer this one–of course, you wouldn’t! Now, keep this scenario in mind as I proceed.
A couple of months after my son my born, I was sitting in a rest stop parking lot with my baby in my lap and my dog next to me in a down. We were enjoying watching people and dogs pass us by–taking in the sites and sounds of the otherwise mundane Delaware Information Center and rest area. At one point, a woman comes out of her car with her dog, and I clearly hear her ask her dog in the squeakiest of voices “Oh Fluffy do you want to say ‘Hi’ to the doggie (aka my dog)?”
With a 6 week old baby in my lap and my dog minding his own manners in a down next to me, I have a squeaky woman and her dog approaching me to say “Hi”. Let me pause to tell you how setting the tone for an interaction means everything to a dog. When you talk to your dog in a hyper tone, you get them excited. This, in turn, is the energy that they bring with them to an interaction–excitement–instead of calm and balanced. Now, you are approaching strangers, but you don’t see me, you just see ‘another doggie!’ instead of a dog who is nice and calm.
See where I’m going with this? Now, the best way to create a good situation from a poorly managed one is to step forward, speak up, and advocate. I have to remain calm for my dog–and newborn on my lap–so I say with a smile as they approach “No, not on leash–he gets tense on leash.” (on leash greetings, in general, can also set the wrong tone for a howdy-do, and coupled with excitable energy coming from the other end of the leash–you are asking for trouble).
Well, what does this ‘dog lover’ do? She says, in response to my polite version of “Please go away”– “Oh it’s ok” and proceeds to have her dog invade my calm dog’s space so he can say…hi. Luckily, this didn’t end horribly because in the end, my guy let this dog know he was uncomfortable and the other dog respected this.
Going back to my original analogy, she completely disregarded the ‘parent’ to give herself and her doggie the instant gratification of a “hello!” In the human world, this would result in a severe consequence. In dog world, without proper handling, it can result in a different yet equally severe consequence. Both situations involve disrespect and an invasion of space coupled with touching something that isn’t yours to touch (or your dog’s). We are able to wrap our head around this concept in the human world more or less., but when it comes to the dog world, not so much. Not only was she putting my dog at a disadvantage, but her own dog as well.
Owners may understand the law of human, but they should take a moment to learn about the law of dog. Learn how your actions may affect other owners and other dogs. Ask before interacting–and listen to what the person and the dog are telling you! Do all that and yes, you are indeed a dog lover!
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