“My dog just LOVES other dogs!”
If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this phrase! Often uttered as a lunging, whining, adolescent dog drags her owner towards my dog, or worse yet as an off-leash dog makes a bee-line towards us, it usually spells trouble. Here’s the thing: my dogs do not want to meet rude, over-the-top dogs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Furthermore, I consider my dogs to be more well-socialized than these canine Tarzans, even though they’re quite likely to snark at the “friendly” dog who jumps on their heads.
Our society seems to have lost sight of what appropriate dog-dog interactions look like. The idea that every dog should want to play with every other dog they meet is ludicrous. Dogs who don’t fit into this narrow view of dog sociability are viewed as disturbed, aggressive, or in need of “rehabilitation.” A mature dog who snarls and barks at an adolescent puppy who plows into her is corrected by her owner and told to “play nice,” when really all she wants is to be left alone.
No other species is held to these standards, not even our own. Imagine if you were walking down the street and a strange man started running towards you. As he raced towards you he started shouting, “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey you! Hey!” at the top of his lungs. Now imagine that when he reached you, he grabbed you up in a huge bear hug and spun you around, lifting your feet off the ground, while shouting “Hi! Hey, hi! Hello!” as loudly as he could. How would you react? Would you feel justified in responding defensively? Would you feel better about the interaction if his wife ran up behind him and told you, “He just LOVES new people!”?
This creepy interaction is no different from what many dogs are forced to tolerate every day..