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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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Alena

Wednesday 28th of August 2019

This is a great post! I am that person with the reactive dog...le sigh...I do not judge other people with reactive dogs any more because I know how it feels! My dog humiliates me on a daily basis when we are out walking. I have a 7 month old weim puppy who does NOT know how to walk nicely past another dog. He really just wants to play and say hello, but sadly, he doesn't know how to do that politely yet and I am not completely sure how to expose him to other dogs nicely. I am new to my area and don't know any one in my town with a dog for him to socialize with and learn doggy manners (no, we are not ready for the dog park and I've not decided on if we will attend it at all). I have seen several different trainers, and have had success in other aspects of his behavior, but I am at my wits end with this (and a few other naughty behaviors)! If anyone can offer tips, I'm all ears!

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 28th of August 2019

My weimaraner is like that. May I ask, do you feel like you have the right collar/leash set up for the best control? Not sure if you are comfortable with a prong collar, but that is what helps mine behave the best. I have an Easy Walk no-pull harness that I also like to use but he's hard to control with that around other dogs. He kind of "leaps" at them on his hind legs when in the harness. You could also try a Gentle Leader. Mine doesn't do well with that but it worked really well for my previous dog, a Lab mix.

I would try group obedience classes if your area has any. Good chance to practice around other dogs in a controlled environment.

KL

Tuesday 30th of April 2019

I only actively judge people who don’t do anything about it. I have a friend with a reactive dog who refuses to seek out a class and refuses to try any kind of training and instead has decided that her dog is perfect and everyone else should accommodate her. AND she wants to complain about it to me while not doing anything about it. No. The world doesn’t work like that. I totally judge her for that, I admit it.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 30th of April 2019

Haha! Yes, there are some dog owners like that!

Hannah

Tuesday 12th of February 2019

I'm not going to lie the title of this made my shackles go up lol. I have a reactive dog. I went from the stage of not knowing what was happening to trying to fix it through various trainers and then feeling so overwhelmed with her reactivity. I realize it will take time.

We have a new trainer now and lots of lessons so we're just going through them and hoping for change.

Susanne Aurich

Tuesday 12th of February 2019

People judge it’s a fact! Dogs, Cats , Kids , clothes, hell body size ... everything you can think of it’s sad and it’s human but still , just try not to also try not to tell others about it. It is good to think about your situation, realizing that you have been there! It’s almost better to acknowledge the situation and tell the people that try to deal with kids or animals that you have been in the same situation and that they should hang in there or something! Also try to think if it makes you feel better in any way... not? Well then just quit it...

Serina J Rieckman

Tuesday 12th of February 2019

Aw, how honest. I was that way too until I started fostering dogs. Then I understood how little control you sometimes can have over a dog. Lol! You have a dog thats been locked in kennel for weeks, and he comes to your house for 1 week. Discipline is nonexistent

For my dog I try to work with her. She's leash reactive so actually correcting her and saying no makes it worse. Because basically whenever stimulus comes around she has a negative reaction/ experience from me. I'm sure its extremely weird for people who walk by while she's sitting and softly growling that I'm giving her treats. However she's gone from barking and lunging to sitting and quietly complaining that she has to stay next to me. That's after a month progress. We'll see what happens in 3 months.