DINO is an acronym for Dogs In Need Of Space. I was reading an article a while back from a well-known dog-walker, who is also a blogger, weighing in on the subject. The article went a little viral and was reported on by the local Examiner. I guess I was on the fence because some of the rants I could agree with, others I couldn’t.
The first point I agreed with. Regardless of how cute, cuddly, or adorable an animal looks you should never just assume it is docile and approach it as such. Even if you own a dog(s), you should still check with a strange dog’s owner first. If you don’t check, don’t get your knickers in a twist when the dog snaps at you, or worse, bites your dumb ass for trying to pet it. Dogs can react, sometimes violently, when they feel threatened. Case and point, Spike was a very docile lovable animal. I never saw him snap at anyone until a nasty smelling homeless guy tried to pet him unannounced once day. Spike reared around, bared his teeth, and snapped at him. He clearly wasn’t trying to bite as much as send a message. I was surprised as the guy was. I then snapped at the guy and told him to stay his stinking ass away from my dog and he should never try to pet a strange dog. He reeked from like 4 feet away. I had to scold Spike as well because he couldn’t be allowed to do that but inside I was tickled pink. lol The point is that even the most docile breeds have their bad days or bad dogs, not to mention you have no idea how well (or not) the animal has been treated/trained.
From my own experiences, the worst DINO’s are often the ones where the owner encourages its bad behavior because he/she thinks it’s cute. Dogs can have varied temperments based on their breed as well as upbringing. With a wealth of info at your fingertips via a quick Google search, it is silly not to spend a modicum of time learning about your dog. The biggest mistake I see is when owners project their own thinking onto their dog. Dogs think like dogs not humans. No matter how cute they are, a dog will often try to establish dominance and/or protect what they perceive as their space and/or owner. While the owner might think this is admirable, he/she is setting the dog up for a lifetime of confrontation and problems. The dog should be taught it is not the pack leader and must abide by the rules. The more this is reinforced the happier it and you will be.
As a responsible dog owner, you have to also know the limits of your dog. If your dog is not friendly to humans or other dogs, do not put the dog in situations where it is forced to react. While this is not always avoidable, it can be anticipated and handled w/o a lot of fuss. And here is where I diverge from the article author’s point of view. The author implied everyone should know not all dogs are friendly. I disagree. As mentioned above, you should use a little common sense when approaching a strange animal, but not everyone has experience w/pets. Some people grow up w/o ever having had any pets. Always assumming others know to ask first is not a realistic expectation, especially if your dog is a DINO. Right or wrong etiquette wise, under the law if your dog attacks someone, you are liable under both civil and criminal statutes. And for [insert deity of choice here] sake, don’t tie it up and leave it alone in public spaces if it is the least bit aggressive. As its owner, you can be charged with a crime if the dog does damage to public property or worse, bites someone. Even if the bite doesn’t break the skin, the dog could be removed from your care, permanently in a worst case scenario. (And yes, in my line of work I’ve seen it happen.)
Another example of stupidity is when owners drag their dogs everywhere, including indoor spaces, and proceed to get their knickers in a twist when people naturally want to pet their dog. As an example, a guy used to bring his puppy into Bearbucks1 in the gaborhood every day. The puppy was cute/cuddly and very friendly. The owner would get annoyed at everyone who tried to pet his dog. He even had the nerve to bring a note one day and post it next to the dog while it was sitting out looking for attention. Even worse, he would complain to the employees about it! They finally got tired of his perpetual whining and asked him not to bring the dog back inside. The moral: If you put your dog in a situation where he is surrounded by people, you are an idiot for thinking no one will want to pet him.
When people act out like this they also abuse a business’s trust in them to manage their dog indoors. This makes it hard for all pet owners. A little common sense goes along way. On a side rant, if a business asks you not to bring your dog in, be respectful and don’t bring it in. Your thoughts on the matter are irrelevant as it is not your business. They have every right to not allow pets. Just like you have the option to not do business there. Throwing a fit and being a bully just makes you look like an ass.
As for Cooper, he is a very friendly dog, even too friendly. He will go up to virtually anyone for attention. Being a puppy and still learning rules, he can get very rambunctious.2 That being said, even in his short time with me he is learning what is acceptable and not. I want him to grow up to be a friendly, happy, and well-behaved doggie. When encountering other dogs Cooper immediately wants to play and will make a bee-line for the other dog. I ask other dog owners before he gets too close to see how they feel. If their dog is friendly, we let them interact. If not, we do not. It’s as simple as that. So far, Cooper hasn’t shown much of an aggressive side. Well, let me rephrase that. He doesn’t try to start trouble with other dogs and most often even when another dog becomes aggressive, he just looks on. He certainly seems able to defend himself but I wouldn’t call that aggressive.
As for other people, while I don’t mind people petting Cooper, I try to encourage folks to ask first. I certainly don’t get pissy about it if they don’t, especially if he is inside a public place with me. I find a polite encouragement goes along way though. I guess the moral here is both sides should exercise a little common sense but neither should assume the other knows the rules. Ironic how that could apply to a variety of other scenarios. lol