Don’t misinterpret BULLY behavior for friendly greeting

“Oh boy! We are going for a ride in the car! That always means something fun! I love running and playing! I especially like the river!

“Oh boy! Here we are! Look at this big space for me to run! I hope mom brought treats, too! It’s so fun to play that ‘come’ game where she calls my name, and when I get to her she gives me treats! I love that game so much!

“Oh no! What is happening! There are 3 dogs headed my way! All bigger than me! They are barking madly! They have hackles up! What did I do to make them want to charge me? I am so afraid! What should I do? I don’t know what to do! I am so afraid!”

“They just want to say, “Hello!” yells their owner.

My mom says, “Please call your dogs! I have a puppy that is very afraid of your dogs barking and hackling at her!”

“They’re friendly!” the other owner yells back.

“This is not a friendly way for a dog to approach a puppy!” mom says.

“Oh no! They are on top of me! I am going to roll on my back to let them know I am no threat! But, wait! All three of them are on top of me! One is biting my neck! I am so scared! I think I might get killed! I am going to stand up and nip at them to make them go away! Leave me alone! PLEASE!!! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!”

“Well, you sure have a nasty dog, Lady!“ screams the other owner to my mom!

“Your dogs are obnoxious greeters and your dogs need to learn to come when they are called to avoid this! This is unacceptable! They are operating as a pack and see my puppy as prey! This could scar my puppy for life!” my mom says.

Encounters like this happen every day when dogs are allowed to run off leash. All dog owners want their dogs to have good experiences especially here where there are so many places for our dogs to enjoy the outdoors. With this freedom and the beautiful surroundings comes a responsibility when we take our dogs with us.

Please recognize social dog behavior and unsocial dog behavior. A dog that charges other dogs is not being friendly. It is bullying the other dog it is charging. Recognize that behavior for what it is and teach your dog to come when it is called BEFORE the bullying starts. Do not make excuses for your dog’s behavior by calling it “friendly” when it is not.

When you have a puppy, the last place you want to go is somewhere that much larger dogs you do not know are allowed to run free. Puppies should be exposed to older dogs that have good manners with puppies. Not all older, larger dogs like puppies.

If you are going to have a dog that you allow to run loose, be sure your dog DESERVES that freedom with good behavior so other dogs and PEOPLE are not injured in the process. Dog freedom is a privilege earned by good behavior, not a RIGHT. Take time to teach your dog right from wrong.

Written by NADOI Member Fran Jewell, Sun Valley, ID
NADOI # 1096.