The bad dog behaviour epidemic

Thursday July 4th 2024

Bad dog behaviour
This View has been written by Midlothian Dog Trainer Nick McMechan.

As a dog trainer, many of my clients share with me their stories and frustrations about the behaviours of other dogs. It’s become more common in recent years and there are a number of reasons why, and also a simple solution to the growing problem.

Many of my clients talk to me about the hard work they have done with their dog, only to get a setback. It’s the same setback time and time again. Its the scourge of the “it’s okay, my dog is friendly” owner. It’s the dog owner that allows their dog to freely approach other dogs.

This can cause so many problems. For the ‘offender’ their dog can become addicted to chasing other dogs, leading to over arousal. Often this leads to, what appears to be, unrelated behavioural problems. For the dog on the receiving end it can be stressful. An already fearful dog will start to act out on its fears as a result, often leading to barking and lunging at strange dogs – what we call ‘dog reactivity’.

Various sources put the estimate of the number of dogs in the UK anywhere between 10.5 million and 12.5 million and anywhere between 33% and 40% of households owning a dog. That gives you an approximate number of thirty thousand dogs in Midlothian. These numbers have been on the rise over recent years, exacerbated by the pandemic.

My observations and opinions on why dogs are more badly behaved than ever before is not simply based on the fact that there are more dogs, it also surrounds my observations of the behaviour of people too. Examples would be

– dog owners not stepping to the side of the path and controlling their dog (in a sit for example) to allow other pathway users by. Not everyone likes dogs and some are afraid. As dog owners, we have a legal and moral responsibility to control our dogs around others

– cyclists speeding up behind dog owners without warning (using a bell) and startling the dog and its owner, creating fear in the dog

– similarly joggers not slowing down and respecting the dog owner to give them time and space to control their dog.

– parents not guiding their children to stop running by dogs and /or speeding by on their scooters. This seems to have stopped years ago!

My point is this – as shared users of public pathways we must respect each other and help each other pass by safely and responsibly. No one has any more entitlement to use the public pathways more than others.

For dog owners in general there are basics that must be followed, and unfortunately my experience is that this is sadly lacking and the situation is worsening. My plea to all dog owners is this

1.Train your dog. You can’t reasonably control a dog without training. It is a fundamental requirement of dog ownership

2. Pick up your dog’s poo. This has become so much worse in recent years. Again, a real basic of owning a dog

3. Don’t allow your dog to approach strange dogs without explicit and express permission. This isn’t socialising your dog.

4. Respect other public path and park users. If you see someone with a dog, call your dog and leash it. If you can’t do this, I refer back to point (1). If you see anyone on the same pathway as you, with or without a dog step to the side and reward your dog for sitting.

5.If you have a dog, and you see another owner struggling to control their dog’s behaviours, be aware that they may be trying their best. Don’t continue to walk towards them with your dog. Help them out and change direction. (They should also do the same if they can)

So, in conclusion, the real question is – is it a bad dog behaviour epidemic or a bad dog owner epidemic?

I truly believe we need to bring Dog Licensing back. Spain are leading the way with their recent licensing and we can learn from the lead they have taken.

Nick specialises in Loose Leash Walking and Reactivity as well as everything you would expect from a great Dog Trainer. You can find out more here:

Tweet Share on Facebook  

Subscribe to the Midlothian View newsletter

Support Midlothian View from as little as £1. It only takes a minute. Thank you.

Comments are closed.