Saturday, May 15, 2010

A word to dog owners

I don’t fear dogs or dislike them, but I am cautious around them. I have vivid memories of being a kid of going into another kid’s back yard for the first time and standing there happy to meet Scotty, their Scottish Terrier, just as it ran up to me and bit my ankle. I don’t mind a dog wanting to be petted but I don’t like a dog putting paws on me uninvited. I enjoy taking walks around my neighborhood from time to time. One of the unpleasant aspects of the walk is when I am occasionally confronted by random aggressive behavior by various dogs.

It is an unpleasant experience to know that the only thing between you and an aggressive dog is a fence or an owner’s leash. There is an added element to this unpleasant experience when the owner witnesses the aggressive behavior and reacts in a nonchalant or even patronizing manner, and says "Sorry" as if to say “Aw don’t worry about fluffy”.

There are times when a dog owner has seen concern on my face and I see a patronizing smile or smirk from the owner – as a parent might give a child who is fearful of an animal behind a cage in the zoo, or one machismo man’s contempt for another man’s fear. If you are a dog owner, be reminded that not everyone loves your dog as “fluffy” and it is narcissistic to expect that every passing stranger will have all of your same affections towards your dog. Your cute little fluffy still is part wolf with the capacity to be a strange aggressive beast to an undeserving stranger.

Akin to the human to human narcissism of many dog owners is the human to dog narcissism of those who chastize their dog in English as they would a child, saying “No fluffy, stop that!”. Certainly the owner would be chastised if someone said “No, (owner’s name) stop that!” therefore their dog must be the same.

Your dog’s behavior is a reflection on the quality of you the owner, and whether you have invested any time or thought to how to properly train your dog. At a minimum it is inconsiderate you for you to allow your dog to be aggressive and to willfully neglect to train your dog to where those displays of aggressive do not occur. Beyond it being anti-social it is a safety hazard and a potential liability if the only thing stopping your dog from biting someone is your fence or your leash.

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