Helpers and Dogs

Walking my dogs has let me get to know my neighbourhood better, especially knowing which dogs live around me. Today I passed by three maids walking three dogs again. I’ve seen three maids for three kids! 

Italian Greyhound from 1915

Image via Wikipedia Italian Greyhound (1915)

This was my second encounter. I know the house they are from. It’s a beautiful big house at the corner that switched owners not too long ago. First it was a white fluffy dog ( I think) or maybe the Yorkie came first. Then whichever was the second dog joined in. I have seen those two on walks before. Mostly recently they added an Italian greyhound puppy.

I first met the new puppy along with the entourage a few days ago. Creamy, excited to see a new dog, started barking. I tried to explain that she is not aggressive but just vocal and curious. In response, the maid said that the new dog, only a puppy, was “bad and naughty”.  Over Creamy’s continuing barks and the Italian Greyhound’s frantic lunges to come our way to meet, I tried to explain that it’s a puppy and just wants to play. There were no obvious signs of aggression. The puppy was just energetic. So often this is taken to be labeled as “naughty”, as is bum-sniffing, jumping, and any attempts to play.

The maid’s restraints and reprimands are only signaling to the puppy that new dogs are dangerous. Then real aggression may set in.

I think it’s great that people hire helpers to ensure that their dogs get walked. Having helpers is not as much a luxury as it is back home, in the West. What I would love is for someone, preferably a good positive-reinforcement trainer, to run a course for helpers so that they are more confident in dealing with their dogs. I understand that if they mis-read the other dogs’ signals and a fight breaks out, their employers will not be happy and their employment may be at risk. But there are tools that they can utilize to help both themselves and the dogs gain confidence and exposure. 

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