OK, I don’t really want to punch myself in the face, but as a dog owner, some particular behaviors and attitudes in other dog owners really get to me.
The dogs themselves are never at fault and are always cute, sweet, wonderful creatures. Sometimes their human counterparts are another story.
Owners Who Are Always On Their Phone
I get it. You’re busy. You might be a hot shot attorney charging for your call, or maybe this is precious time to talk with your BFF, or you’re in an ideological discussion on Facebook and you just must be understood, but your dog might like some attention, too. If not for, you know, bonding and the quality time your pup so desperately craves, at least pay attention to all the rocks it’s trying to eat. Would you even notice if your dog ran off? At least glance up occasionally.
Owners Who Disrespect Leash Policies
Off-leash parks are amazing and there should definitely be more of them, but that doesn’t mean that you can protest this issue by letting your dog off-leash where ever you want. Dogs in leash-enforced parks (or just walking around on the street) are usually on leash for a reason. Allow other owners the chance to opt into letting their dogs be around off-leash dogs, and don’t let your pup scare or provoke an aggressive response by bounding up and getting into their personal space.
Likewise, let humans walk through the world without an unsolicited encounter with your off-leash dog, as they may be afraid, allergic, or just not into random licks. Oh, and dogs can bolt, which is more likely outside of enclosed off-leash areas. While we all like to think that our baby is perfect, we can never entirely know how our dog will behave. Best to keep them and those around them safe.
Owners Who Let Their Dogs Bully
Playful exchanges of dominance and submission occur in play, but don’t let your dog be a jerk. If you see your dog being relentless and crossing the line from reciprocal play into just plain bullying, go get your dog, try to channel their energy into something else, or just call it a day and go home. This is difficult behavior to predict and sometimes even tough to identify, but it becomes more obvious when humping is involved.
If your dog is mounting another dog who is clearly trying to make it stop, be responsible and find a way to intervene. There is nothing more frustrating that seeing a dog who is aggressively pursuing my pup without respite, and then looking over to their oblivious owner. No, it’s not cute. I get that you think it’s just his way, but we’re going to have to cut our park time short because you’re allowing your dog to be rude.
Owners Who Judge Dog Origins/Breeds
I’m all about rescues, but I’m not going to start a fight with another dog owner who went to a breeder. It’s not what I would do personally, and I would probably suggest that friends/family opt to look into adoption instead, but we all have our own reasons and the dog park is for dogs, not for judgment.
On the flip side, I don’t want any comments about how my rescue is damaged or how you could never do what I did because of whatever assumptions you’ve made. But, most importantly, don’t get all up in arms if you come across a breed you don’t like. Whether you think little dogs are silly or big breeds are dangerous, keep it to yourself. No one comes to the dog park to hear you trash their best friend.
Owners Who Give Unsolicited Advice
Dog training and care options are seemingly endless. When we find something that works, we want to sing the praises of our phenomenal discovery. Not everyone wants to hear about your dog’s raw food diet, your clicker training hack, or your philosophies on attachment styles, especially if you think your way is the only way.
If someone asks you about something, feel free to fill them in on what you do, but unsolicited advice is just rude. When you see a dog who you think might benefit from what you’re doing, weigh your options carefully. If you decide to approach the owner, be humble and aware that they may not want your opinion and accept that. It’s better to be open-ended and interested to hear what they’re doing, not only to spread the good word about your chosen methods.
Just don’t do these things, please. And if I may add three last bits of advice: pick up your dog’s poop, don’t leave your small children unattended, and maybe don’t bring your cat to an off-leash dog park. (Yes, I’ve seen that happen. Seriously.)