Or spring “unsocials”as the case may be.
Macy and I are meeting a tremendous number of dogs who don’t like other dogs on the trails suddenly. In fact, I may stop taking her on leash walks and just find some friendly dogs we know for her to play with until the snow comes back.
By and large here in Atlantic Canada the thing we seem to be best at is messing up dogs. There are too many aversive trainers and people who think dogs need to learn “lessons”. Appropriate behavior from well socialized dogs to put unruly dogs in their place is okay, but getting beat up and meeting nasty dogs who freak out for no reason is not good for your friendly dog. Not one bit.
I’ll let you in on a secret. The best way to make your friendly dog into an aggressive dog is to let it meet aggressive dogs. Dogs don’t need to sort it out. They need you to keep them out of bad situations.
I am appalled at how many choke chains, pinch/prong collars, and shock collars I encounter in my daily travels. Kids, these things make your dogs mean and angry. Wouldn’t you be mean and angry if you were in pain?
If your dog is not social keep it out of social situations and get some professional help from a positive method (ie gentle no pain no dominance theory) to see if you can overcome the situation. Do not force your dog into bad situations and spread bad vibes.
My previous dog became dog aggressive because of bad advice and encounters with unfriendly dogs. So I kept him away from other dogs unless I could control the situation and bought a house with a fenced in yard. I worked on the problem and reintroduced him to as much as he could handle and he still had dog friends throughout his life. If people with friendly dogs entered our public space we stepped off the trail out of respect for others. Somehow, I keep encountering people with dog aggressive dogs who don’t even try to get out of the way. While I’m on a rant please let’s ban retractable leads too. They are a great tool for creating leash aggression though if that is what you are after.
Anyway, my young adoptable friendly and social dog is learning that dogs are mean this spring and I’m going to protect her sweet personality by keeping her away from all the mean dogs who have come out of the woodwork with the nice weather.
Somehow in the winter we were meeting all kinds of friendly, social dogs and meeting them on leash with no problems. This leads me to believe there are dogs who only see dogs in the summer and that certainly explains a lot.
Macy is a Border Collie and they wind up fast and furious even the friendly ones so my focus has been very heavy on socialization more so than training. We do train, and will do a lot more once she has her surgery this spring but I stand by my decision 100% now that I see how lovely her temperament is and how important it is to protect that.
I know a lot about dogs from working in the industry for about 15 years now and I promise you that aggression begets aggression. You wouldn’t send your peaceful, happy, well-mannered child out to play with the neighbourhood barbarians whose parents idea of supervision is screaming and yelling and spanking and expect that to be good for your kids, right? Thing about it.
Protect your dog please and make sure it has happy experiences and learns that the world is a safe and happy place. We owe dogs that much with all that we put them through. For the most part, we are asking way too much of dogs these days. They don’t fit well into our society. They have become things to purchase, control, and ignore by and large.
Man’s best friend deserves a lot better.
If you have made a mess of things, or adopted a dog with problems, or are otherwise in over your head that is okay if you are willing to get help here is a list of local trainers and behaviorists you can trust (will add more shortly):
Adina & Macy McCrae and team