Why “It’s Okay, My Dog is Friendly” is NOT Okay
We’ve all had the experience of coming across an overly friendly dog. The kind of dog that runs up to you at full speed, dragging his owner along behind him. The dog that simply can’t control his own excitement as he jumps all over you, wiping drool on your clothes and dragging his nails down your arms. In the frenzy, you can’t tell whether the dog is trying to greet you or trying to eat you.
That’s when the owner of the dog says it – those six little words that are supposed to diffuse the situation – “It’s okay, my dog is friendly.”
While it is certainly good to know that the dog that is currently rubbing his body forcefully against your legs is not, in fact, trying to kill you, his behaviour is in no way excusable. The problem is that the dog’s owner actually thinks that using the excuse that his dog is “friendly” will make you immediately forget the fact that your personal space has been vigorously invaded. If you have a dog of your own that becomes caught up in the mix, the “friendly” excuse doesn’t work on him – all he knows is that another dog has entered his territory and that he may be threatening his human.
Even if your dog is as friendly as you say he is, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do your basic duty as a dog owner and train him to behave. The friendliest dogs are often the most ill-mannered because they are allowed to get away with things since they never actually end up hurting anyone. Just because your dog is harmless, however, doesn’t mean that his rude behaviour is excusable – this is true for all friendly dogs and it is something dog owners need to seriously consider.
Below you will find an overview of the top seven bad habits that many friendly dogs exhibit:
- Running full-speed to greet a new person or dog. This can be extremely off-putting for the other dog because they do not know whether your dog is coming in for a sniff or going in for the kill.
- Jumping all over new people and dogs. No one likes to have their personal space invaded, including dogs. If your dog starts jumping all over another dog, that dog might become anxious and could lash out in response.
- Licking the new dog’s face and/or his owner’s face. Dog kisses can be great, but you’d probably prefer that they come from your own dog or that you have some warning before it happens
- Humping another dog. This is generally a sign of dominance and it can cause the other dog to feel threatened. It the dog starts humping a human, the person may not feel as though their social standing is threatened but it is by no means a comfortable situation.
- Barking or whining excessively. Having your space invaded by a strange dog is alarming enough but if the dog starts barking and whining it can exacerbate the situation. Shy or timid dogs could be frightened by such a display or threatened to the point that they fight back.
- Taking food or toys. An unleashed dog can quickly ruin a picnic and, though it may not be a big deal to you, your dog could feel threatened by the intrusion. If the other dog takes your dog’s food or treats, it could be perceived as a threat and it might start a fight.
- Causing a distraction. Many dog owners use their daily walks as an opportunity to reinforce obedience training – if another dog comes running up in the middle of a training session it could throw everything off. Once your own dog gets excited, it can be difficult to regain control.
When a dog owner says, “It’s okay, my dog is friendly” to excuse some kind of inappropriate behaviour, what he is really saying is, “I have no control over my dog”. Many dogs are friendly and social by nature but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to teach him basic obedience. The seven bad habits listed above are very common in friendly dogs, but they are by no means excusable. It is your task as a dog owner to take and keep control over your dog and to make sure that he is properly trained.
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