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Why I judge people who have reactive dogs

Josh and I see it almost every time we’re out walking: Some lady’s dog is freaking out—lunging and barking at us—as she just stands there.

“Why doesn’t she tell it ‘no’?” we sometimes say. Or, “She isn’t serious enough.” Or, “Why doesn’t she just walk the other way?”

I want to offer advice to these types of dog owners, but I never do. I don’t think it’s right to offer advice unless asked.

But that’s not the point of this post.

The point is I have no business judging other people and their dogs.

I know better, but I still do it. I don’t know why I do it. It must be an ego thing, like I somehow believe I could do better. That seems to be a common theme when it comes to dog ownership in general. “I could do better.”

We think quite highly of ourselves, don’t we?

Why I judge people who have reactive dogs

This is not fair, of course. Because maybe (usually?) that other dog owner just doesn’t know what to do. Or maybe she just adopted the dog and we happened to see her on their first walk. Maybe it’s a relative’s dog she’s walking, or a friend’s dog. Maybe the woman is a pet sitter, walking a client’s dog that no one else is willing to work with.

Maybe this person is fostering the dog so it could get out of the shelter. Maybe she’s working really hard to train the dog and making great progress. Maybe we just happened to walk by at the worst time.

I’ve been in her shoes.

I’ve walked plenty of reactive dogs as a foster owner, dog walker and shelter volunteer. Let me tell you, no matter how careful you are and no matter how experienced you are, there will still be moments when you’re caught off guard. At least that’s the case for me, and I’ve been walking dogs since I was 8 years old.

My dog Ace

Heck, my own dog Ace was a friendly, mellow guy and even he still made me look like I couldn’t control him at times. He’s a dog; they’re good at making us look incompetent.

Certain dogs just get into those “freak out” moments, and there’s not a whole lot you can do except calmly walk away and remind yourself to avoid the same situation the next time around.

So, if you need help with your dog, I hope you find the help you need.

The rest of us should keep our opinions to ourselves.

When have you caught yourself judging other dog owners?

Why I judge people who have reactive dogs

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