Friday, September 7, 2007

Other Reckless Dogs

I don't mind dogs off the leash. I think it looks great to see a dog off leash and at one with its handler. However, the clue to my post is in that last line -- with its handler.

Once again, Ellie and I became the victim of another dog that could not be controlled by its handler, and another Chocolate Labrador at that! No, I checked, it wasn't the same one as two days ago.

Ellie and I were doing our morning training session in the playing field, as per usual. As we were practising the down command, I spotted something hurtling towards us at speed -- at least as fast as a grossly overweight Chocolate Labrador could run. (Why are all the Chocolate Labrador dogs that I see so grossly overweight?)

Ellie, as is now her custom, let out a little bark, before running behind my legs. I, determined that, despite the odds against us, she will not grow up having to be fearful of other dogs, regained her attention with her favourite tennis ball, and we continued to play, leaving the handler to take control of her dog. "Sorry", she said. Oh, how irritating that word is when you just know that the handler knows they have no control of their dog.

We continued to play, before once again spotting the same damned dog hurtling towards us. Now once I am willing to forgive as an accident perhaps. Twice in the space of five minutes? Not quite. That just tells me that the handler has no respect for other dogs or other dog handlers. I am a placid person up to a point. That point had now been crossed.

"He just wants to play", she told me, obviously believing that would invite a welcome response from me. "So does mine", I replied, "but with me, and you're making that next to impossible. You have a bloody leash, use it if you can't keep your dog under control.". At that point I headed further up the field as I gathered that she had no intention of curbing her dog's reckless behaviour.

It's just so bloody annoying and frustrating. I understand the "he/she just wants to play" dog owners, really I do. However, neither I nor my dog are there as entertainment for other dogs. We are there to enjoy the company of one another. It is not my job to train or socialise other dogs. Sure, I want Ellie to socialise but only with dogs that I have evaluated and in a controlled manner. That is why we spend money on attending training classes and will continue to do so throughout her life.

In fact, I don't really have a plan where Ellie plays with other dogs in fields to be honest with you. I want Jan and I to be the centre of her world, and we try to encourage that by playing interactively with her as much as possible. For me, good dog interaction is where two dogs can pass, perhaps sniff at one another, and then move on. I don't really see a need to go above that. Certainly not with the average dog in a field.

There might come a time when, over a period of several weeks, I see a dog and handler who I feel are in total control and therefore able to play with Ellie, but again, I'd rather that we were the centre of her world.

Anyway, I can't tell you just how perfect her walking to heel is becoming, both around the field, in the street, and at the side of the main road. I feel very proud to be walking her. It beggars belief doesn't it that a young puppy can walk to heel and ignore other dogs, but two consecutive adult Chocolate Labrador dogs cannot. It's no wonder we dog owners get such bad reputations.

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