Skip to Content

Can stupid dog owners be trained?

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I believe the average adult can handle and care for a dog properly. Even if it’s their first dog, most people can put two and two together and figure out how to train and exercise a dog. If not, they can pick up a book or take an obedience class.

If someone asks for my advice, I give it. If not, I keep to myself (and blog about it later). But every once in awhile I see people who amaze me, and I just have to say something.

Last summer I saw a woman verbally abusing her dog and even hitting him every time he came to her because he didn’t come fast enough. Go figure.

I explained to her what she was doing wrong, and she was happy to take my advice.

The people who need serious help with their dogs probably aren’t the ones reading this blog. The people who do read this blog are responsible, educated dog owners like me. That’s why I’m writing this post. Most of the time it’s better to let things go, but sometimes we just have to say something – for the dogs..


People like us can help the less fortunate dog owners and their dogs.

Saturday Ace and I witnessed a bad dogfight that could’ve been prevented. This was one example where giving a man the benefit of the doubt was a mistake on my part.

Ace and I were out for a nice walk around 6 p.m. when the sun was beginning to set and the weather was fairly warm. Snow was melting and we even smelled a few BBQs.

We took our two-mile route, expecting everything to remain peaceful. As we were making a turn and heading down 28th Avenue towards 32nd Street, we noticed a man standing on the corner with a golden retriever.

Assuming a dog is friendly is a worse mistake than assuming it is aggressive.

Because of the golden’s breed, I wasn’t very concerned. My mom’s golden has some leash aggression issues, and I know Elsie is harmless.

This owner, though, concerned me more than the dog.

“No! No barking!” he yelled as the dog lunged and barked at Ace and I. “No!”

But the man’s “scolding” was followed by him jumping up and down and yelling, “Is that your doggy friend? Is that your friend? Look, a doggy friend!”

The guy seemed very immature. For a half-second I thought I should say something to him. I knew his excitement was causing his dog to act excited and aggressive, and he seemed to be totally unaware of this. I hate to admit it, but part of the reason I let it go was because the dog was a golden retriever.

I was also thinking of my own dog’s safety. The excitement from the man-and-dog pair made Ace a little nervous too. Ace’s hair was standing up on his back, and he kept looking over at them. I mean, who wouldn’t? The guy was yelling at us, pointing and jumping!

I said hi but kept Ace at my side away from the other dog and kept walking.

We were met immediately by another man and his pointer. Pointers are another breed people assume to be friendly and harmless. The three of us were all within 10 feet from one another at this point. I assumed the two men knew each other and were on some kind of running date.

The golden’s owner kept jumping up and down saying, “Look! Doggy friends!”

I was jealous that Ace and I didn’t have walking buddies, but we continued on our way. Ace looked up at me, and I swear he rolled his eyes. “Some people …”

We heard the shrieking from the dogs before we even got a block away.

There was not much Ace and I could do, but I went back to make sure everyone was OK.

Two women ran out from their houses and threw water over the dogs to break up the fight.

I did not get too close. Bringing another male dog into the situation would’ve been dangerous, so we stayed several yards back. As one woman ran back into her house, I yelled, “Are you guys OK?”

She yelled back that she thought so.

The men and dogs kept at each other. There was definitely too much testosterone in one spot.

I saw that the pointer had “locked” onto the golden and the two men did not get them apart for about a minute. Once they did, they stood there yelling at one another and their dogs went at it again within seconds.

“I don’t know you!”

“Get away from me!”

“Get your dog outa here!”

Other people came out of their houses and one man yelled something like, “Hey! Get your dogs and go home! Get those dogs away from each other!”

Well, duh.

Once again, I’m not sure you can train stupid owners.

Ace and I walked away at that point realizing the damage had been done and we didn’t need to get ourselves involved. I didn’t see any blood from where we were standing, so most likely the incident sounded a lot worse than it really was – the human fight and the dogfight, that is.

On our walk home I kept thinking to myself what an idiot that owner with the golden was and why hadn’t I said anything when I first saw him? What if he’d let his dog get closer to Ace? What if a child had been out walking his or her dog and had been attacked? What if that pointer had been a shih tzu?

We have big problems when two grown men older than me can’t control their dogs. The only thing that would’ve been worse is if the dogs had been on Flexi leashes.

In suburban areas like south Fargo, there are a lot of unexercised, untrained, leash aggressive dogs that haven’t been socialized. I come across dogs like this almost every day.

There are thousands of neighborhoods out there just like mine. For you responsible dog owners out there who are reading this, sometimes it’s better to walk away. But sometimes we need to speak up.

Peter Apps

Friday 15th of March 2013

There must be some mysterious force that sucks peoples' brains out as soon as a dog goes near them. When I have people in a training class who after seven weeks still cannot manage to say their dog's name before they say a command, and who seem to be physically incapable of letting a lead go slack I wonder how they manage to live their lives without a full time carer.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 15th of March 2013

Haha! Oh, I hear ya! :)


Sunday 20th of January 2013

People should not be allowed to own and care for a dog unless they can prove they have an understanding of modern canine behavioural and training knowledge. OK, that's a bit extreme but after encountering a silly owner whose Golden charged myself and my reactive dog on leash, my frustration with the average dog owner is at a peak today. Despite politely warning the owner that my dog may snap, I received the standard naive "it's ok, she's friendly." oh, and just to make me feel even more reassured, "if your dog nips then it will teach my dog a lesson." When I tried to explain that I did not want to reinforce aggression in my dog and that it would only teach her dog that other dogs can be aggressive, I was asked"what is your problem" and "mind your own business". Are these people for real? It is seriously making me think that it is best to avoid encounters with any dogs you don't have control over. I've worked really hard trying to get my rescue to a place where she is becoming less dog reactive and it makes me despair to regularly encounter the ignorance and lack of education in the average dog owner. I also have studied for a dog behaviour and training certificate and taken the time to educate myself in the since of modern do training so than I can be a responsible and safe dog guardian. But I am now thinking that it's best to carry some Spray Shield and a walking stick, Today, i just feel that some people really shouldn't be allowed to own this wonderful species.....Great blog by the way!

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 20th of January 2013

Yes, I agree, some people are so frustrating. I was walking a leash-reactive dog last weekend and a guy had three corgis off leash. When I saw them, I quietly and calmly turned around and slowly started walking away. Slowly, so as not to encourage his dogs to chase. Being herding dogs, they totally charged us, and the owner made no effort to call them back. Frustrating.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 22nd of November 2012

Yikes! I am sorry that happened to you and your dog!


Wednesday 21st of November 2012

My companion dog is a 14 yr old, blind in one eye and going deaf Lab/Sheppard cross. I just came back from a not so relaxing walk and encounter with a stupid dog owner. My dog had just finished taking a poop and I was bending down to pick it up, when I spotted a young male walking directly towards us with his dog. I quickly shortened my dog's leash and told him, by name, to stay. This idiot heard my dog's name and as he approached, he called to my dog by name. At this point he and his dog were less than 6 ft away from us so I moved away in the opposite direction and simply asked him not to do that. Well, Holy Hannah! The mouth and abuse I had to take from this guy! Anyone would have thought I had called his mother a wh***. I attempted to diffuse the situation by telling him my dog was old and ever since he lost his vision and hearing, he doesn't like being approached by dogs he is not familiar with. The guy's behavior just escalated and honestly frightened me, so I fled, What is wrong with these people? Where is it written that if you own a dog and the other person owns a dog, that they are required to interact?


Saturday 20th of August 2011

Here is a rhetorical question: Why would any right thinking responsible person deliberately let a 4 month old Jack Russell off leash with the express purpose of letting it run up to a 120 pound Sheppard/Lab cross that they knew absolutely nothing about? Did they ask my permission to do so? When I tried to get away from this puppy that was jumping up into my dog's face it just kept following us and repeatedly jumping up into his face, so I asked the woman to please come and get her dog. Her response to me was typical "oh, your dog is aggressive? you should keep it away from other dogs". She then proceeded to berate me as though I was some how at fault. Honestly I get very tired and angry with this type of situation. Three years ago a small dog jumped up into my dog's face and scratched the cornea of his eye, which, in the end, required surgery by a canine eye specialist. After the surgery, his eyelid was sewn shut for a month and the surgeon said that he may still lose the sight in his eye, which thankfully he didn't. This cost me almost $5000.00. I tried to explain this to her but she simply didn't want to listen, which I find quite typical of some brainless dog owners. Here is my point. Just because you have a dog and I have a dog, does not make us obliged to acknowledge each others existence. You do not have some sort of unalienable right to charge up to me with your dog. Try to show a modicum of common sense that would dictate that walking your 5 pound dog up to a 120 pound dog might not be a good idea. Dog owners are not part of some mystical clique where we are all like minded and want to stand around talking to each other about our dogs. Dogs and their owners are just as varied in personality as non-dog owners. Just because you own a dog doesn't mean we have one single other thing in common.

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 21st of August 2011

Yep. Totally agree. I come across this all the time, and it's not just small dogs that run up to me and my dog. It's usually OK because my dog is friendly, but I still don't want him learning bad manners. I want him to greet other dogs calmly, and it's hard to keep him settled when a strange dog is charging up to us barking - right up to his face. So sorry to hear about your dog's eye.