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Most Dog Owners are Bad Owners

April 24, 2012

One of the side effects of having to look after and train a Guide Dog is that I now look for and notice how other dog owners behave and treat their dogs. Sadly, I am not impressed by what I see.

I had already formed a low opinion of some dog owners because over the years I have encountered several bad ones anyway. Usually when out with my daughter and said bad owner allows their dog to jump up and terrorise a young child to the point of significant distress. The dog owner then says to the child “It’s okay, he (or she) won’t hurt you” and moves on. How utterly unhelpful! No apology is offered for the distress and upset caused.

In situations like that the dog needs to be controlled and its behaviour corrected. Telling a tearful child that the terrifying encounter they have just experienced that its okay and they had nothing to worry about achieves nothing. I know from many encounters like this that it only creates a chid that gets more and more terrified at the mere sight of a dog. What should be a calm family walk becomes a ‘look out for the big bad dog and try to avoid an encounter’ walk. The number of dog owners that I have witnessed that have dealt with the situation well and to my satisfaction as an affected parent are very definitely in the minority.

Working with Tout

Tout is a challenge in this regard himself; he is an utter attention whore and gets hugely excited at the prospect of meeting other people. It’s a regular battle to get him to continue to pay attention to his walking duties when he has spotted that people are approaching. His whole demeanour changes noticeably on spotting other people and free running him makes it even more difficult. We’ve had to physically hold him and apologise to families on more than one occasion for his spirited intrusion.

The hard work with him is paying off though and when we see what other older dogs still do and how Tout is now we can see that his behaviour has improved and he is paying attention to out instructions more and calming down. It is rewarding seeing that the dog we are responsible for is generally well behaved and that the effort we are putting into the training is making a difference. However, it is equally disappointing that so many other owners simply don’t have a clue and let undisciplined dogs run amok. Worse than that, there are those who don’t even notice when their pets act aggressively or in other unacceptable ways and then refuse to even acknowledge that they ought to do something about it, as I experienced a few years ago (

Dogs are not Children

One bug bear of mine is the insistence of dog owners to treat their pets as substitute children. They are animals, effectively tame wolves, and their nature is very different to that of people and they should be treated as such. Yes, there are dogs that actively enjoy and even crave human contact, but that does not equal treating them as though they were human. They are pack animals that require an alpha member and ought to be treated with that understanding. Molly-coddling and pandering to them is not treating them appropriately.

Just because they beg it Doesn’t Mean they need Food

One thing I have especially noticed since taking Tout on is the number of overweight dogs. Tout appears to be able to eat absolutely anything and when food is being prepared he hovers and sniffs and nudges, hoping for that little scrap that will make its way off the counter and into his domain. When we are out, he’ll go after anything that will fit in his mouth, especially when free-running. Back at home, even after he’s just eaten, he’ll still come up and beg. There is never a time when he won’t eat anything that’s offered to him as food.

With this knowledge, it is now plainly obvious to me that many dog owners have absolutely no idea on what is a suitable amount of food to give to their dogs. Almost every dog I see is carrying fat, some are obviously obese. In our care of Tout the food we give him is monitored so that he remains healthy and in a suitable fit condition. He looks slim compared to most dogs and positively skinny on others. I don’t think we’ve seen a dog that is thinner than Tout. That’s not because Tout is underfed, but because every other dog is either fed the same or more, usually more.

This is bound up in owners pandering to their pets rather than acting like a controlling alpha or pack leader and just goes to show how little dog owners understand about care and control of their pets.

Clean up the Poo!

This is a subject I have commented on previously ( and is still very much something that many dog owners seem incapable of. I’ve said all I need to on dog poo in that post, my thoughts on the subject remain unchanged.


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