What do we want our dogs to be able to do?
When I walk my four adult dogs around our local parks, particularly at the weekend, I am frequently complimented on the ‘good behaviour’ of my dogs. I feel pretty smug, but also a bit confused, because they aren’t really doing anything. They are off lead, running around, often fetching a ball or chasing each other. They don’t always look where they are going and I still have to pay attention when cyclists and runners go past, as Busy in particular is often roaring around without looking who is coming.
So why are they so well behaved? I think the main thing that distinguishes my girls from the majority of dogs that people meet, is their indifference. They do not go rushing up to other dogs, sticking their noses where they are not wanted. In fact they give other dogs a wide berth. If other dogs come up to them, they will turn away, or may say quite politely “No thank you, I do not want to play with you”. (Sunny has a nice smile she likes to do 😉 )
When we walk past people, including families with children, my dogs will never, ever, run up to people or jump up. They might occasionally go quietly towards someone who would like to say hello to them. They will stand to be stroked and might even lean in for a fuss.
If we see runners, or cyclists, which we usually do, my dogs will get out the way on their own. Or they will follow my command to ‘Mind’ and then get onto the verge, beside the path, where they will wait until the path is clear. When someone pops up unexpectedly, the dogs will ‘wait’; completely still until told ‘OK’. If we are walking across a field and someone comes towards us they can go ‘down’ simultaneously, keeping completely still until I release them.
Impressive? Or just good manners? I think it is the least we should expect. This is what I am currently working on with Ounce, when we go out for our separate walks in the afternoons.
It’s such a challenge though. Not to train the puppy, she’s an angel. But coping with all the idiots out there. In the last couple of days I’ve had people letting their boisterous retriever bounce up to Ounce while she was sitting quietly at my feet. Not surprisingly, she told him to sod off, and when I asked the owner to please call their dog off, he was so half-hearted about it that the dog took no notice at all. I’ve also had people bending down and making a fuss of her when I am calling her away from them. I’m happy for her to talk to people, (without jumping up) and for them to talk to her, but I also need to be able to call her away first and if they encourage her to talk to them it makes my life extra difficult.
Top tip: If you see someone with a puppy, please don’t encourage it to come and talk to you unless the owner is happy for you to do this? And please don’t allow your big dog to jump on my puppy? Work on your recall, so that your dog is nearly as obedient as my 14 week-old pup!
Overall though, it’s going well enough. As you can see, she is growing! Nearly as big as Busy, who has no hair left at all!
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