Jokes are often made about how much our lives can revolve around our dogs and in some cases maybe we do take it a little too far, but ultimately as owners, we all have an obligation to make sure that our dogs are happy and safe and that the people who come in to contact with them are not at any risk.
This can be challenging, especially for those who are trying to manage a dog with behavioural problems. I know that it is not uncommon for people to walk their dogs in the early hours of the morning and there are many owners who cannot go out, travel abroad, or have visitors to their homes, in order to achieve these obligations.
The emotional drain of looking after a dog with a behavioural problem can take its toll and so these owners need extra support. Some of these owners may have rescued these dogs, but others may have had them since a puppy and the dog simple struggles with the world, their own anxiety or the expectations that are put upon them.
All too often it is the breed or the owner that are blamed, but many owners do their very best to manage and treat their pets problems. In a lot of cases the dog may have been predisposed to developing problems before they were even born. We also know that unexpected traumatic experiences can install fear or anxiety after one event and it so it is not uncommon for problems to develop at any age.
So if you know someone who maybe struggling with their dogs behaviour, try not to judge them but instead look at how you can help them:
• If a dog is lunging and barking at you or your dog, give them space or go behind a visual barrier so the owner can gain some control and move away safely.
• If you are approaching an owner with their dog on a lead, be polite and call your dog back. It is all too common to hear “Its ok, my dog is fine”, but the dog on the lead may not like unfamiliar dogs within its personal space.
• If your presence seems to be concerning a dog and the owner is trying to distract their dog or move away, stop and allow them some space. It doesn’t matter how good you are with dogs and how much dogs usually like you, the owner is clearly saying my dog is not comfortable and so help them out by giving them space.
• If you hear a neighbour’s dog barking or howling at home or in the garden, offer a polite note through their door so that they are aware of the issue and can seek help. Shouting at the dog over the fence, banging on the walls of an adjoining property, or being angry with the owners will not help them or the situation.
• If someone you know struggles to leave their dog, see if you can offer to help them now and again so the owner can have some freedom.
Supporting an owner of a dog with a behavioural problem will not only help the dog to improve, but will also offer the invaluable support that is so often lacking. Lets try and work together to keep everyone safe and happy.
If you or someone you know has a dog with behaviour problems, you can seek help and advice by contacting me or your local apbc memberwww.apbc.org.uk. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.