I’ve been an animal lover all my life, and through the years, I’ve developed some pet peeves when it comes to people interacting with pets. Here’s my list of the top offenders:
10. Not giving dogs enough space
All dogs need space, much more so than humans. Without space, many don’t feel safe. People often allow their dogs to come running up to my car in anticipation of me letting my dogs out. They can wait forever, as I won’t let Sanchez or Gina out when dogs are crowding their space.
9. Telling me I am bribing my dogs when I am rewarding them
My dogs work hard for a living, and they are very well paid. If they are in an environment with high levels of distraction, I will reward them for paying attention to me. It not only helps them listen to me, but it builds their confidence and strengthens our bond. Gina is very dog distracted. (That’s why Guide Dogs for the Blind career changed her when she was a puppy in training.) While she’s improved considerably, it is something I will always have to pay attention to. We recently went to an event with dozens of dogs nearby. I asked her to sit and started rewarding her. An acquaintance said, “That’s it. Just keep bribing her with food.” I said, “Would you work for free?”
8. Telling me how I should feel about my dogs
Only I know what my dogs are capable of and what their needs are. I was once meeting a man for a first date, which involved going for a hike with Sanchez, after our meal. When I went to move my car so that Sanchez would be entirely in the shade, he said, “Don’t worry. He’ll be fine.” Not only a pet peeve, but also a deal breaker. There wasn’t a second date. (And I did move the car anyhow.)
7. Giving my dog a treat without asking me
Sanchez is allergic to chicken and eats a gluten-free diet. But, he’s a Lab, and, left to his own choice, he’ll eat anything. I’ve worked hard to clear him of all allergies by paying careful attention to his diet. When strangers don’t ask before they feed him, it creates problems for us.
6. Giving my dog a treat when I’ve just called him to me
Unfortunately, this scenario happens frequently… I am walking my dogs off-leash. They see a stranger with food for them (see pet peeve #7). I call them back to me, and the stranger feeds them when they run to him. They’ve just been rewarded for unwanted behavior. Gina’s recall is good enough that she’ll come back to me when called. But, honestly, Sanchez’s isn’t. It only makes my training that much harder.
Next: Top 5 Pet Peeves about Pet People