Dogs May Be Man's Best Friend, But Not Each Other's
October 28, 2011
When I was a kid, my grandma suffered under the delusion that I could make friends with any kid in her neighborhood as long as this kid was:
- a) female,
- b) close to my age and
- c) home at the time of my visit.
As you can well imagine, I experienced some serious levels of awkwardness at a young age.
Today, many people believe the same about their dogs. People take their dogs into stores. They take them into coffee shops. They take them to the park. They arrange playdates for them. And when dogs congregate in the same store, coffee shop or park, people just assume everyone is going to get along.
If kids can't get along when they're thrown together, why do people expect their dogs to do the same?
Recently, I was in a trendy doggie bakery when a man walked in with his 110-pound Newfoundland. I didn't catch the dog's name, but he seemed nice. I chatted with the owner and patted the dog on the head. We all went back to browsing.
Soon, another dog and owner walked through the door. This dog was a wispy little Labrador mix. Straining at their leashes, the two dogs touched noses. "Ah, how cute!" was the collective sentiment of everyone in the store.
Then, the Newfoundland went, well, nuts. Growling, barking, and pulling at his leash, the Newfoundland lunged at the new dog. Mustering all his strength, the Newfoundland's owner held him back all the while explaining how his dog "just loves to play with other dogs."
Did he say play or eat?
The next thing anybody knew, the Labrador and his owner were out the door and the Newfoundland's owner was wrestling him to the floor. All the while yelling, "Bad dog! This isn't the dog park! You can't act like this! We're going home RIGHT NOW!"
If only I'd had that option years ago.
Anyway, if I hadn't been so busy hiding behind a table of pomegranate-flavored doggy treats, I might have suggested the Newfoudland's owner go to the library for some good books on dog behavior and obedience. We have dozens of titles here at MCPL, including Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Dog, 30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog, or even better, The Well-Adjusted Dog: Dr. Dodman's Seven Steps to Health and Happiness for Your Best Friend.
Until he reads a good book on the subject, I suggest staying away from the dog park.