It’s ok, my dog needs to be taught a lesson…

We’ve probably all experienced the “it’s ok, he’s friendly” shout across the park, while a dog rushes up to confront us. The issue is that maybe our dog is not so friendly… and even if not, no one really wants anyone rushing up into their space, regardless of how “friendly” they might be.

One that’s bugging me more than this lately though, is along the lines of “my dog needs to be taught a lesson”. You know, there’s a dog being a bit of a jerk and you ask for help to intervene, and the owner suggests letting them work it out for themselves, because their dog needs to learn a lesson about not being a jerk… from your dog.

I know, sometimes it’s kind of a throw away line to diffuse conflict with a human. I’m sure I’ve said it, worried that my dog being a jerk to yours is going to escalate, absolving you of any liability should my dog get hurt in the process. But it is so not cool.

Firstly, it is never up to another dog (or person) to teach your dog anything. That’s your job. If your dog is having trouble communicating with other dogs, you need to be the one to help them out. Take responsibility. It is never up to anyone else to do that work for you.

Secondly, we need to remember that both dogs are learning in this situation. Sure, the jerk dog might learn that overbearing behaviour is not appreciated, but what has it taught the other dog? That aggressing or biting is how he gets out of uncomfortable situations? That humans won’t advocate for him and he has to take matters into his own paws? You’re creating a situation where a dog is practicing behaviour that is considered anti-social, and therefore less than ideal for being out anywhere in public.

So please, don’t let it get to that point. Advocate for your dog, regardless of whether he’s “friendly” or the “jerk”, we need to be taking responsibility and helping our dogs navigate our world as best they can. Call me, I can help.


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