This column is basically a plea – a plea to the MDIF. What is an MDIF you ask? My Dog Is Friendly people.
They are easily recognizable by their off-leash pups approaching every dog, unbidden and often unwanted. The owners are often glued to their cellphones, only glancing up to shout, “Oh, my dog is friendly…” instead of “Fido come!” Sometimes the MDIF are being dragged like a rage doll at the end of a leash while shouting: “My dog is friendly!”
You see, the rest of us want you to stop this. We know your dog is not trained and you are just deflecting your inability to control your dog onto us. The jig is up. We know when you shout: “My dog is friendly,” you are really saying, “I have no control of my dog and don’t care.”
What we would like you to do is to enroll in an obedience class. This class should teach you, the owner, how to provide boundaries of behaviour and consistent leadership so your dog begins to respect you and come when called, with or without a treat.
We don’t want to hear how dysfunctional your life is or how stubborn your dog is. Our lives are just as dysfunctional and our dogs are just as stubborn. The difference is that we took responsibility for our lives and the lives of our dogs instead of expecting others to do it for us. That is why we walk our dogs on leash and respect local bylaws. It is also why we call our off-leash dogs to our sides far before trouble may arise; we’re kind of proactive that way.
We also don’t want to hear how your dog just wants to play as he tries to hump or as she crouches down and stalks our dogs. You see, stalking is not an invitation to play. Neither is humping but that’s a whole different column.
Let me elaborate. Stalking is a hunting behaviour passed down to dogs from their wolf cousins. It is a behaviour that has been genetically enhanced in certain breeds to promote their particular working trait.
As an example, my border collie cross stalks sheep to get them to move, if they do not he bites at their heels or nose to get them to move. Neither my dog nor the sheep want to play with each other, trust me. My pointing dog stalks the prey he has scented in the tall grass. He slowly creeps up on the hidden rabbit or bird and flushes it out for the hunter to shoot.
Let me stress this: it is a predatory hunting behaviour, not an invitation to play. I don’t care who told you it is play behaviour, they are wrong! At times, it may have ended in play only because the dog being stalked was savvy, confident and socialized enough to know your stalking dog is an idiot.
Sometimes the dog being stalked will display calming behaviour signals to the stalking dog to say, “Hey jerk, don’t stalk me!” One of those calming signals is a play bow to defuse the inappropriate approach of the stalking dog. Your stalking dog did not initiate the play, it was initiating a chase.
The opposing dog initiated the play to defuse the chase. Sometimes dogs don’t want to be chased or played with and when your dog begins to stalk them, they initiate aggression to say: “Back off jerk!” And here is another a-ha moment, the other dog is not aggressive, it is your dog that is the problem!
So please, put the phone away, take the time and make the effort to train your dog. If you can’t afford classes, do something constructive with your phone like google: “How to train a dog to come when called” or “How to be a good leader to your dog.”
Once you do, your life, your dog’s life, and the lives of the people you share this world with will be so much better. I guarantee it!