As per the norm; a quick trip to the park and I have my topic for the next days blog. Yesterday I had the poodles out together, a little different but Jessie was sound asleep when I was getting them ready and I hated to wake her. We got to the park and did a ton of sniffing on the way in. Luke is not use to going snail speed so he spent his time sniffing everything in sight. I typically take Luke out separately because he can handle and needs more exercise than Tilley but sometimes it's just good for both of them to walk together. So there we were the three of us at the park.
We had just walked by two absolutely adorable Shih tzu dogs that we regularly see at the park. The two were tied to a tree while their owner worked out on some very cool outdoor gym equipment. They seemed very sweet and were silent; obviously a bit intimidated by the bigger dogs but gave a tiny wag. We were just about to round a corner when I looked back to see a woman who was not the owner of the dogs bending down to pet them. They were fine with her petting them and jumped about happily. But then she held her arms out looking like she was planning on picking them up and they both lowered their body posture and moved away. The woman continued her approach; both arms held out in front of her planning on picking one of the dogs up.
I watched as the owner got up and went over to the dogs. The other woman who was obviously a stranger to the dogs continued with her quest to pick up a dog. The dogs were freaking out at this point; the woman was standing up looming over the dogs with her arms out and she had on black gloves. One of the dogs whipped around as if it had given a nip or snap and the woman stopped her approach. The owner had never stepped up to stop this situation, she should have. Seeing that her dogs were quite distressed at the idea of a stranger picking them up she should have stopped it immediately.
Why had this stranger not noticed or understood the clear body language of the dogs? We are not born with the innate understanding of dog communications but running away is pretty clear even in human terms. But she chose to ignore the dogs attempts to keep her at bay and continued to pursue the dog. This type of thing may not seem like a harmful event but it can have fallout behaviors. It is imperative for an owner to stop this type of thing from happening to their dog. It is our job to protect our dogs.
No one should EVER pick up someone else's dog. Everyone should learn how to properly approach and touch a dog. At the vets on Friday I asked the technician if she could inform the Veterinarian to assume a sideways approach when entering the room so as to not trigger a defense response from Luke. She said that he typically ignores the dogs when he enters a room; also a great behavior and it worked well for Luke. Of course there are dogs in this world that would love nothing more than to be picked up and cuddled by whoever, but those are few and far between.
Most dogs have boundaries, much like we do. A head on approach, standing upright with your arms out is about as bad as it gets, other than all out running straight at a dog. I know many people who lean right in to kiss dogs on the face or give them a big hug, this is very dangerous. Dogs deliver a great deal of information with their body and if we read it correctly we will understand what they are saying. Don't just dive in blindly; read and respect a dogs boundaries.