Social dog walking and not social dog walking
The pit falls of social dog walking for irresponsible ownersA person that I have come to regard as a good dog walking friend recently made some surprising statements about why it is not his dogs fault that it is not social. He is right, but not for the reasons he thinks.
This guy has a working dog (I won't put in the breed here, to avoid hate mail), but many people have found that working dogs love to work, and are almost impossible to give enough exercise and socialisation to in urban areas. Not true of every working dog, but by far this is true in the majority.
My friend takes his dog out EVERY morning for long periods. He used to walk it many kilometres each day, but now for at least half or more that time, stands around talking to other dog owners, while his dog gets restless and bored, and often snarls at other dogs, about to attack. He will play fetch on occasion, but the owner is smart enough to know that repetitive fetch for endless hours can drive a working dog more insane and make it less social.
The point I disagree with is that he was saying how it was the other owners fault that his dog sometimes had a bad temperament. On really hot days when he takes his dog to a well known dog beach, it is usually very crowded and he says has to gingerly walk around all the other dogs and owners with his dog.
He is right in that the other owners are often once a month kind of dog walk people. And their dogs are often powerful anti social dogs (due to the lack of training and socialisation or on purpose neglect to "toughen them up"), but he blames them 100% rather than seeing how anti social his own dog has become.
I am not a dog trainer (currently), but know that his dog has aggressively attacked over 5 (very social and friendly) dogs. I have heard from actual owners about this in that dog park. When other dogs decided that they would like to meet and greet the working dog, he would attack to 'protect himself' or just wanting to assert himself in the pack. THIS IS NOT SOCIAL DOG BEHAVIOUR.
Is there a solution, yes, but that is not the focus of the blog. The point I want to make is that just dragging a dog to a park and standing still while it does what it wants does not make it social. Putting an aggressive dog on lead (with no muzzle) is not being a responsible owner either. in an off lead dog park, other dogs and other owners have an expectation that dogs in that park area going to be social, or that they are at least going to be safe. Remember this is not a once off incident.
Fortunately I now know the behaviour or this dog, and my pack are able to be around me and the other owner, while the working dog sits at a distance. He has learned to 'put up with my pack' and my pack act normal and social around me and the other owners there. But a new dog and a new owner often needs to be more aware, than they should.
NO a dog jumping on a person, with excitement is not acceptable, but it is NOT the same category as a dog aggressively attacking another dog, because it thinks it ought to, aiming for intentional harm.
I know of a few trainers who have not done coursers who also think that an off lead park, being public property is ok for them to trial their paid experiment with anti social dogs. They will bring powerful (and often fighting breed) dogs to see how far the dog has progressed from its anti social and aggressive ways. Fortunately I rarely see one of these 'trainers' anymore, but if they had a licence, it should be revoked. I see an anxious powerful breed dog, without lead and without muzzle, and think that those trainers themselves should sometimes be locked up. They gamble with all our safety for their own profit. And its mostly about ego for them, not the benefit of the dog.
In Australia personal rights and freedoms to not automatically win over the safety of the community.
I take my dog packs to safe off lead parks, for them to have a fun social experience.
If you have an aggressive or anxious dog that is likely to bite, it doesn't matter if you have it on lead. It needs a muzzle, and perhaps a lot more time before exposing it, even on lead, to an off lead dog park. That is what keeps the off lead dog parks safe and more likely to encourage good dogs with good owners, and increase the socialisation of all the dogs present.