I don’t know what it is about dogs that makes people forget all social boundaries and has them coming at you with their grubby, outstretched hands. To be fair it’s not just dogs that induce this madness in people, it’s pregnancy bumps and babies too – once when I was 6 months pregnant, I was walking an agility course before I was due to run it and some random woman suddenly and without warning, put both her hands on my bump!!! Like, what the actual fuck?? Then when Thea was tiny, I had an older lady who smelled very strongly of cat urine, try to kiss my childs gorgeous head! Worst thing was, I always carried Thea in a sling so her head was always lying just under my chin, next to my (very full and painful) boobs!
Anyway, I digress with talk of babies and breasts. Back to dogs! Dogs are classed as property, therefore belonging to the owner in the same way a car does. (It’s not right to dismiss dogs as merely ‘stuff’, but that’s the current law unfortunately) So in the eyes of the law, randomly touching a dog is akin to wanting to have a real close look inside a strangers car or to get their wallet out. You just wouldn’t do it would you (unless you were a theif) so I’m not sure why some folk think it’s perfectly ok or indeed their RIGHT to check out your dog.
Look, I get it. When you love dogs you love dogs so much and you get all gooey and high pitched when you see a cute little snuffykins out for a walk, or standing outside a shop or whatever. I get that bit. However progressing to then just sticking your meaty fingers in a random dogs face or indeed sticking your big moon face in a dogs face is at best rude and at worst bloody dangerous! It’s like, do you WANT your nose bitten off??
What’s even worse than not asking, is doing it DESPITE THE OWNER TELLING YOU NOT TO!!
I walk a cute little cockapoo called Nelly. Nelly is pretty scared of strangers and would actively be defensive whenever she saw anyone while she was out. As a smaller dog, she can get easily intimidated by people looming over her (I know how she feels!) She would run up to them barking, dancing around them and generally looking a bit crazy (despite her cute, teddy bear appearance!) She hates strangers in her house, she WILL growl, she WILL try to escape your touch and if pushed beyond her threshold, she WILL bite! I started working with Nelly a few months ago and at first, I couldn’t get anywhere near her. She did not trust me and did not want me touching her. When I went to first meet her and her owner, she barked at me, avoided me then sat with her owner giving me a full on death stare. If she could’ve willed me dead, I’d be 6ft under right now!
However, I put in A LOT of work with Nelly which included just sitting in her house, throwing her hot dogs and never initiating any real contact. Over the weeks it went from taking me 20 minutes to clip her lead on, to less than 10 seconds. When I first started taking her out, she would bark furiously at anyone who she deemed was too close (one time it was a man in a bus stop, I’d stood in there to escape a down pour!) and was so tense. I couldn’t let her off for fear of her running off/barking at people etc. After months of work, Nelly will now ignore people, choosing instead to look at me. She goes off lead and sticks close to me and when we see someone coming/cyclists etc, I get to the side, she follows me and watches me until the person passes. She’s so relaxed and much happier on walks. The change is amazing and I’m so proud of her.
However, the ‘SPACE INVADERS‘ still try to stroke her even when I tell them not to! The other week an older gentleman actively tried to loom over her and stick his hand in her face, even after I’d told him she was scared of strangers and wanted to be left alone!! He then made some comment about how he’d love to get a treat from me, so I vomited in my mouth a little then walked off. Luckily he hadn’t undone all the hard work I’d put in with Nelly because I –
A) Stood between him and Nelly to protect her and
B) Have trained her to watch me and receive treats when other people are nearby.
Would it have been Nelly’s fault if she had bitten that man? No. Would she (and I) have been to blame in the SPCACE INVADERS eyes? Yes. No doubt he’d have wanted my details to pass on to the police. Would I have given him a piece of my mind? No doubt.
Moral of the story, JUST STOP TOUCHING OTHER PEOPLE’S DOGS! KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY PUPPIES!
To end this blog, here’s a testimonial from Nelly’s owner about how much Nelly has progressed since I’ve been walking her.
“I did a lot of research when looking for a dog walker and found Tamara on Facebook after asking a lot of friends for recommendations etc. From our first contact I really warmed to Tamara as a person – approachable understanding and very flexible. My lovely Nelly on the other hand was not so taken as she isn’t by any strangers. Over the past few months Tamara has put so much work into Nelly being so patient and kind with her even keeping me involved in all of her progress through videos as I am not around to see it. Now Nelly really likes Tamara and her behaviour is just fantastic, not only new skills have been learnt but Tamara has reinforced things that we were already doing with Nelly it makes her a lot more enjoyable to walk. We have had a lot of positive feedback from people we see regularly on our own dog walks. I can’t thank Tamara enough for all of her time and patience with both my forever changing schedule and Nelly’s grumpy attitude. Would recommend to anyone”