This story appeared on the CBC news website today and motivated me to write this post as I’ve been thinking about dogs in public in general. Here’s what prompted the story (a sign posted in a neigbourhood) and a link to the story itself.
Please be Courteous to Your Muslim Neigbhours
Many Muslims live in this area and dogs are considered filthy in Islam. Please keep your dogs on a leash and away from Muslims who live in this community.
I have no idea of the motivation behind the posting of this flyer but it did bring to mind in a somewhat related and somewhat unrelated manner, some thoughts about responsible dog ownership in general.
In my view, it would suffice to simply say,
Dog Owners – Please Be Courteous to Your
Dog Owners – Please Be Courteous
to Your Muslim Neigbours
or too much to hope for I suppose,
Please Be Courteous
This wouldn’t be an issue in the first place if those of us that have dogs were just generally more respectful of others when our dogs are out in public. (Read this too – Why I don’t walk dogs in public any longer.)
I personally feel that not only should a dog be on a leash in a public setting, it should be trained to keep that leash loose no matter what when out in public and until it has learned to do so it has no business being out in public. On a leash is not enough. The dog owner should be able to demonstrate they have full control over the dog regardless of the distractions the environment has to offer – or – they shouldn’t be there. For reasons too numerous to elaborate on here, dog owners/trainers should not be “practising” on the general public.
I would go as far to say that people walking dogs should always give the right of way to others and literally step off the path, tell their dog to stay and let the pedestrian walk on by. Far too often it’s the other way around and the pedestrian has to step off the path or cross the road because they have either had a bad experience or aren’t confident that the person walking the dog can or will control the dog.
Whether the person dog walking encounters is Muslim, Christian, Jewish, a child, an elderly person etc. has nothing to do with it. – respect everyone and step to the side.
Far too many people are bitten, tripped up or simply annoyed by unwanted, unsolicited attention from dogs in a public setting and the dog owners usually pipe up with a guilty smile (sometimes just before the dog bites or jumps up), “Oh he’s okay!” Which far too often means, “I hope he’s okay because if he’s not he doesn’t listen well enough for me to do anything about it because I haven’t taken the time to learn how or I took him to some silly trainer that told me, I just need better treats and that I can never say no or I’d wreck his self-esteem. I’d help you up off the ground but looks like he wants to drag me in this direction now.”
I would go one step further and say that I believe this should be an actually enforceable bylaw. Some dog owners (the biggest transgressors no doubt) would go nuts, but in the long run, such a standard would be good for dogs, dog owners and non-dog owners. It would reinforce training and give dogs and dog owners a much better reputation in our communities. It would be a good first step towards encouraging the sorts of skills that would permit our dogs to be welcome in more areas, buses, taxis, restaurants etc.
In areas where the amount of competing pedestrian traffic is too great to be practical to step aside, the level of obedience, particularly loose leash training would have to be high enough to ensure that the dog minds its own business or the dog simply shouldn’t be allowed in those environs until it learns how to behave civilly.
Of course in order to give dog owners the tools to teach their dogs how to exercise their suck it up muscles around real life distractions we as dog trainers are going to have to offer better than the flawed ‘all positive’ all the time treat training or its polar opposite ‘might is right’ methods of training. Lots of information on this website to help with that.