How to Deal with Dog Owners Who are Not "Dog People"?

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  • #66176 Report Abuse

    Naturella
    Member

    Hey, all! I have kind of a weird question, but first, let me give you my definitions of dog owners and dog people so that this post makes sense: dog owners are people who have dogs cause their kids wanted them, or they thought the dog was cute, or they genuinely wanted a dog, but never cared to research dog behavior and understand their furry companion; dog people have a dog because they love dogs AND they genuinely did at least some research on how to raise/train/socialize it. Hope that makes sense.

    Yesterday we were visiting the in-laws’ house for dinner for Brian’s birthday and I usually bring Bruno – so this time I brought Snowy too, since she’s visiting. Also, Brian’s aunt’s family came and they brought their yorkie Astro, which is a poor little unsocialized mess… Now, he’s met Bruno before and acted all scared but Bruno has never been too interested in playing with him anyway so after a bit of sniffing he normally leaves him alone.

    Now, this time, I guess because it was 2 dogs, as soon as they walked in, they (Brian’s uncle mostly) kept saying “Leave my dog alone!” “No, he doesn’t like to be sniffed”, and trying to separate them at the slightest attempt between the dogs to establish their boundaries. I mean, they said those things like 50 times in 2 hours! Neither Bruno, nor Snowy was aggressive, but from my understanding, there will be a bit of growling here and there until they communicate with each other what they are ok with and what not – for example, if Astro didn’t like to be sniffed, he would let them know by grumbling and they may grumble back, until they get their points across… Well, I always kept an eye on them, and there was no aggression like I said, but the comments continued ALL the time. I said at least 10 times “They are fine/That’s how they communicate/Let them hash it out/They really ARE fine, just let them be”, etc, to no avail. At one point even my mother in law said something like “But Astro is really nervous, he really doesn’t like it”, to which I was like “Well, he shouldn’t go and bother them then” (because he was also kind of curious about Bruno and Snowy, skiddishly curious, but he’d be the one to approach them sometimes). Now, what I really wanted to say to Brian’s uncle (cause he just wouldn’t shut up about my dogs (for the time being I consider Snowy mine as I was responsible for her) leaving his dog alone) was: “Uncle _______, can you please leave MY dogs alone? If your dog is nervous, you should’ve brought his crate and crated him. Or not have brought him at all to social situations when you know he’s not socialized. Or, ask the homeowners if you can put him in a room where he can have peace and quiet. But stop creating the idea that getting to know a dog and setting boundaries is bad in MY dogs. You are responsible for your dog, and I am responsible for mine. They don’t need to be disciplined at the moment, and if they did, I would do it myself.” But I didn’t say any of it. Cause it’s a bit harder, cause he’s Brian’s family and what not, but to me, they are dog owners, not dog people.

    Now, is it right for me to think that his dog’s comfort is his responsibility, not that of the other canines present? I mean, if it were my dog (that is somehow still unsocialized), I would have brought his crate or asked to put him in a room or something and work on his socialization rather than try to isolate him from the other canines in the place by constantly telling them to “leave my dog alone” (like they would even understand what that means…)? And how do you deal with “dog owners” like that? Brian said he would just let it go until/unless he physically removed Bruno or Snowy, or shoved/kicked them away for no reason (not for real aggression). I wanted him to even just stop talking to them. What would you do?

    #66178 Report Abuse

    Naturella
    Member

    Oh, and also – tails were wagging at all times as far as Bruno and Snowy, and they just wanted to investigate, get to know, and maybe play with Astro. But with his “dad”‘s behavior, no wonder the dog was nervous – loud, demanding voice, tension in his alpha – the poor dog must have thought he was in a danger situation and he will always think that when there are other dogs around if that’s how his alpha is acting. So he will never be calm and social with other dogs… Makes me sad for him.

    And any attempts on my side to just get the dogs together, make them sit, or do something at the same time for treats so that they have a positive experience around each other never worked as Astro doesn’t know how to do tricks – either attention-span is low; he was never taught; or is not food-motivated, or all of the above – he is fed mostly from the table while his owners eat, so he knows he will get the good stuff then, so he doesn’t really do treats. So he would just wander off by his owners. Meh…

    #66182 Report Abuse

    Bobby dog
    Member

    Naturella:
    I may be the odd man out, but whenever I have been in those situations I just remove my dog. I figure my dog might have to be secluded for the evening, but I am avoiding any incidents. Dogs sense uneasiness from people and IMO it is a disaster waiting to happen.

    From my experience even if you try to give your reassurance that it might be a good thing and try some socialization, if the owner is not receptive it’s just not safe. More than likely if anything happens you will be blamed because the owner stated they were not comfortable with your dog(s). Unless they socialize their dog nothing will ever change.

    I always find out who is bringing their dogs to any social gatherings. Bobby stays home if I have any question about the guest list. I wish everyone’s dog was socialized, I love watching new friends play.

    #66190 Report Abuse

    neezerfan
    Member

    I’ve run in to similar situations at the dog park. I’ve given up trying to educate people. In your case I think it’s more difficult because it’s a family situation. Try and remember the dogs aren’t the most important thing. Sometimes it’s best to keep them separate or leave them home just to keep the peace. Not everyone thinks like we do!

    #66195 Report Abuse

    aquariangt
    Member

    I’m with BobbyDog, I remove my dogs from the situation. I also won’t bring my dogs to situations where there are going to be non dog people (and yes, I totally understand the distinction and use it myself, often) with their dogs because im not interested in attempting to teach people who aren’t paying me to do so. I also have the opposite problem often with Dani, who does NOT like strange dogs up in her business, especially in the face. She will snap to show warning, which usually results in some <insert insult here> trying to tell me how their dog is just being friendly (read: poor mannered a$$) and my dog needs this or that. I just don’t bother anymore. I cross the street if a strange dog is going to cross my path and I can see them straining on the leash meaning they will try to greet my dog, and I skip dog parks because too many people think that’s “socialization”

    Now in class, I get to tell people how it works, and the people running in to “save” their puppies from the others they think are bullying because they don’t understand behavior, get a nice lesson on watching dogs and what actions they are making truly do make their dogs uncomfortable. Without fail, almost every puppy class I do has at least one of these people, so it’s easy to work in.

    When it comes to family-im lucky I guess because of how we grew up, everyone understands dog play, and we know who to keep away from who (My sister’s giant lug of a great dane/st Bernard mix and Dani) and generally things are fine. I recently got invited to a friend event however that everyone was bringing their dogs, and I opted Dani out of that one. Liesl too, just because I didn’t feel like dealing, but good thing, because a lot of them were untrained and playing rudely. I didn’t say anything, but had it been family, I probably would have. Maybe get some literature to give said uncle and aunt about dog signals so they can see what was actually going on, or opt to skip out on Bruno going with if the Yorkie would be there

    #66198 Report Abuse

    Naturella
    Member

    Oh, if I knew they were coming I wouldn’t have brought my babies! And idk, I just feel that it’s unfair that I have to remove my dogs if someone wasn’t responsible enough to provide for the comfort of their dog. I will for sure not be bringing Bruno to their house ever again, and make sure to ask who’s coming to family gatherings next time. I may bring some info to them next time, but they never read any of the links I send them (I have before, about dog nutrition and natural chews and stuff, to no avail).

    But yeah, better safe than sorry, Bruno won’t be involved with Astro anymore.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by  Naturella.
    #66200 Report Abuse

    aquariangt
    Member

    It’s totally unfair. The non dog people of the world make things harder on those of us who are responsible, but sadly, the responsible thing when it comes to dogs is often the let it be attitude. If ya’ll were talking about kids, it’d be a different story 🙂

    #66204 Report Abuse

    theBCnut
    Member

    If they had kept their dog beside them, then I would have considered you out of line, if you let your dog approach theirs. BUT I realize this is NOT what you are describing. If their dog was standoffish and your dogs were basically molesting theirs, I would have issues with that, BUT that also is not what you are describing. It sounds like their dog wants all contact on his terms and his owners let him get away with that behavior. Spoiled brat!! I would have removed my dogs or kept them beside me on leash and then given them a hard time every time their dog wanted to sniff mine.

    I wish I could find the article, but I have no idea where I saw it, but it explained the social interactions of some dogs this way:

    Suppose you went to the park and found a lovely bench to sit on and enjoy some time outdoors. A total stranger approaches and sits down beside you, very closely. Suddenly, he starts running his fingers through your hair. You scoot over to the other side of the bench, but he just moves over with you, and then he starts to touch you, really touch you, all over. There’s a cop nearby, so you jump up and run over to him. The stranger follows, still doing whatever he wants to do. You ask the cop for help, and he backhands you and tells you to not be such a coward. The guy is all over you, and you are a helpless puddle. Suddenly, he stops and looks you in the eye and says, “Well, come on. Aren’t you going to play?” The cop reaches down and pushes you toward him. “Go on, go play.”

    This is what we often do to our dogs when we don’t defend them from unwanted attention. They have a right to not be messed with. They do not have to love every dog they come across. This is not a socialization issue, it’s a personality issue. And just because the other dog is friendly doesn’t mean they should be allowed to act that way.

    That’s why I think they probably all should have been on leash or otherwise directly under someone’s control.

    #66218 Report Abuse

    Naturella
    Member

    BCnut, OK, it makes total sense the way you explained it with the metaphorical situation. And I agree – no dog should have to endure a “terrible” (it its own eyes) situation, that’s why I thought the uncle should’ve made sure that his skiddish dog has a place to go to to be safe – his crate, another room, etc. I just didn’t see myself as the “cop” because his dog wanted help from him, not me, and I just didn’t see my dogs’ behavior as THAT intrusive on Astro. Sometimes they would be laying down close to me and Astro would wander around and sniff them, so they would respond by getting up and sniffing back, so he would turn and escape, which is fine, if it wasn’t commented on as if Bru and Snowy are biting him away, lol. If they tried to follow him I would call them right back. But no, I didn’t restrain them or limit their access to the house in any other way than calling them back if they could get close to Astro.

    BUT, this is why I love this forum – Bruno is my first dog and I am still learning a whole lot about canine health and behavior, so I really truly appreciate everyone’s input, knowledge, and experience. I love learning and you all are wonderful sources of knowledge and advice. I wouldn’t want my dog to be a bully/bother other dogs, even if he is just being friendly and playful, so I see why I probably should have restrained them somehow too. IDK about the leash though – Bruno and Snowy only associate it with going outside to potty (for now), so I could train him to think of it as “I need you to do as I say” thing, maybe. So again, thanks for all the advice, and I think that I will just carry our crate next time we go somewhere with Bruno, whether or not there are other dogs there – people may react the same way Astro did, lol. Or, if we don’t have to take Bru with us, we won’t.

    #66226 Report Abuse

    weezerweeks
    Member

    I have a yorkie and at my brothers for Christmas this year.my brother has a border collie golden mix who is 13. I love Honey,my brothers dog but she kept looking and acting strange toward my Bailey so I told my brother I didn’t feel my Bailey was safe. He said u know Honey is not going to hurt him but I decided to hold Bailey well Honey came over and tried to bite Bailey if I had not put my hand between them he would have hurt him but he bit my hand instead. What I’m trying to say if you have a small dog it is sometime frightening to be around a bigger dog because one bite from a big dog and a little yorkie would be hurt. I can’t believe Honey did this. usually I go without Bailey and Honey loves me. I think she was jealous but I sensed something and it did happen so maybe Astro’s parents sensed this.

    #66228 Report Abuse

    Naturella
    Member

    @weezerweeks, I see what you’re saying, but I doubt they sensed anything, knowing them, lol. Plus, Astro is just about Bruno and Snowy’s size, maybe 1-2 lbs lighter. He must be a mix of sorts, cause he seems big for a Yorkie, his dad had said he was 15 lbs, which is what Bruno is, but he seems lighter than that just a bit.

    #66229 Report Abuse

    I am a dog person and I would have required BOTH of you to remove your dogs or leash them 🙂 Fights happen in the blink of an eye and if it had occurred, it would have been 2 on one with pack mentality. All intros should be done on leash, even if they have met before, as they do not hang out on a regular basis.

    #66232 Report Abuse

    theBCnut
    Member

    I don’t think your situation really fit the metaphoric one because the dog kept coming over to your dogs to check them out. It was a bit of a spoiled brat, wanting everything on it’s own terms, including the right to sniff your dogs without getting sniffed back. But I do think that all the dogs needed to be under control and if Uncle thought his dog was being bothered, targeted, or whatever, it is his responsibility to protect it from that situation, including removing it if that is what he thought was needed. Nagging at your dogs certainly didn’t help in any way.

    #66235 Report Abuse

    Naturella
    Member

    Melissaandcrew and BCnut, I agree that we both should’ve controlled our animals better. I will definitely know for the future! Again, thank you for all the help in educating a to-be-fully-responsible dog person! 🙂 I think the nagging just got to me and I got upset at the fact that it was expected that I would be responsible when the other party wasn’t, BUT, I could’ve set a good example and I didn’t. Note taken from now on, but I don’t think Astro and Bruno will ever be meeting again unless they come to our house with their dog.

    #66321 Report Abuse

    InkedMarie
    Member

    I’m not saying Weezer’s yorkie is like this but I have seen many a small dog act all snarly like and people think it’s cute but if a dog larger than them does it, not so cute. People think its ok to let their snarling little dog run up to bigger dogs buut the bigger dogs can’t do it.

    #66327 Report Abuse

    weezerweeks
    Member

    My yorkie loves everybody but I don’t allow him around big dogs because u never know what a dog will do. My Bailey might start barking at them but so far he doesn’t but Istill don’t trust him or the bigger dog. My vet told me so many yorkies are hurt by big dogs so I just avoid them when I’m with him.

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