Public perception vs dog community norms

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by Sekah, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. Sekah

    Sekah The Monster.

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    A recent post in the "No, It's Not Starving..." FB group got me thinking about how the public perceives the dogs of 'dog people'.

    In this post someone posted up a photo of them holding their BC by the hips with rear feet on her thighs and it's evident that she's lined him up to run at a flyball tournament. The photo is completely innocuous and not particularly noteworthy at all, but apparently the poster had experienced some criticism on her feed for looking like she was hurting her dog. The dog sport people guffawed about the silly reaction. Of course she wasn't hurting her dog, and her dog looked happy and healthy. A lot of people on the "... Not Starving..." FB group experience flack from people who fear that their dogs are underfed (and some of them are) so generally the opinions of Joe Public aren't held in terribly high regard.

    The aforementioned post and the apparent issue someone took with the dog looking mistreated reminded me of the way my team handles our dogs during a performance. We're just coming off of 3 days of performances this long weekend. The dogs and people all love it and many of the dogs are often higher than a kite prior to a race. I noted a few teammates holding their dogs' collars so that their front feet were lifted clean off the ground prior to lining up. The people were excited, the dogs were high and I doubt either of them realized what was happening. It was a bit rougher than what I'm used to seeing which is why I took notice, but it wasn't anything that concerned me.

    But we do these shows in front of crowds of not-dog-people... I wouldn't be surprised if some of this rough handling would bother folks who noticed, considering how the benign flyball photo bothered people. We also keep our dogs in crates between shows and when they're not running and many of them bark their heads off. The barking clearly does bother people who watch our shows, but it barely registers to some of the dogs' handlers since, again, this behaviour is considered pretty par for the course in flyball circles and (to a lesser degree) in other dog sport circles.

    So, all of this just got me thinking about what I do with my dogs, how it might be perceived by other dog people and non-dog people. Some people feel that trick training is demeaning, or that forcing a dog to run an agility course is cruel -- some pretty bonkers stuff -- and let's not even mention the craziness that seems to be getting stirred up when dogs are left in cars despite extenuating circumstances.

    What's normal for you? What do you change up about your behaviour with your dogs when you're in public vs with other dog people? What kind of craziness have you encountered?

    I know this post is sort of stream-of-consciousnessy and messy. I've not organized my thoughts on the matter yet.
     
  2. sillysally

    sillysally Obey the Toad.

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    I don't do dog sports, but I don't change my behavior with my dogs around the general public. Jack is thinner than most other labs I see, but fortunately he's rather fuzzy and people don't seem to notice to give me flack.

    It's nothing like when I worked at the horse barn. I cannot tell you how many times I had to explain that no, the horses are not lying dead in the pasture, they are sunning themselves. No, we are not blindfolding our horses, those are fly masks, etc.
     
  3. Red.Apricot

    Red.Apricot Active Member

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    Elsie was low at a rally event, so to perk her up I played 'foot stomp' with her, which is her FAVORITE GAME, where she attacks the bottom of my shoes as I pretend to stomp on her. There's growling and barking, and I'm afraid I'm going to get written up. I haven't yet, though. (Don't worry; we were well away from the rings, off behind trees in the 'regular park' area of the show, so I wasn't disrupting other handlers.)

    I've had people tell me that I was mean to demand she keep her focus on me while we were practicing heeling in public; I should 'just let the dog be a dog.'
     
  4. StillandSilent

    StillandSilent New Member

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    Gambit loves being spanked and will shake his booty for someone to smack it as hard as they can. Obviously in public, we can't do that, since he already looks and acts like he's been abused
     
  5. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    Most times our interactions are pretty positive, but there's always someone somewhere it seems. By now I've largely learned to smile and move on, but since i've learned that tactic, I haven't been able to employ it recently :)
     
  6. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

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    Abrams is thinner than what most people expect to see. If he were a Labrador, being fattened to pet standards, he'd probably be over 100lbs. As it is, he's around 85-90. Not really sure! A plus side is that you can't really tell how lean he is until you actually feel him - he's thick, so he looks rounder than what he actually is.

    He's also intact. Which most people see and go *GASP* howcouldyoubesoirrisponsibletohaveanintactdogOMGyou'regoingtoburninhell. I'm tired to having to explain my decisions to people, and to hear them assume that he must be an aggressive/peeing everywhere all over my house/humping machine that doesn't listen simply because he has balls. Annoys the **** out of me.

    He wears a prong in public. Another *GASP*.

    DH and I frequently talk about beating him with things or smacking him. ("That would be a perfect Abrams' beating stick!") Abrams LOVES it. I handle him rougher than I would other dogs, because, well...he enjoys it and/or it doesn't phase him. So I have to watch exactly how physical I'm being because people who don't know him or me may go o_O when they see it.

    Cynder is always commented on in a positive light, so at least we're doing something right. LOL
     
  7. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    I know a lot of non-dog world people think head halters are muzzles/the dogs wearing them are aggressive.

    I'm a crazy dog person and even I cringe when I watch handlers yanking on dog's necks in the conformation ring, when I've watched dog shows with my roommates it bothers them too.
     
  8. Dogdragoness

    Dogdragoness Happy Spring!!!!

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    Hahahaha the old "why is they horse blindfolded?" Our two ponies wear fly masks because for some reason, the flies really bother them. I think it's because the one pony has a white eye and a large blaze on his face so maybe they are attracted to that.

    I just mess with people how and are like "yeah, it's a blindfold, we don't want them to see." And then laugh at their reactions. I mean come on, my dad knows NOTHING about horses and even he knew that fly masks weren't blindfolds.

    In reference to dogs, no, I don't alter my behavior in the general public, as opposed to the "dog people" public my dogs are well behaved but they are allowed to be dogs. I also will treat them as I please (know am not abusive, but I know them and I know what they like and don't like) I will use whatever training aid I please and I don't care what what one thinks, and if they say anything I tell them flat out that it's none of their business.
     
  9. crazedACD

    crazedACD Active Member

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    Out in public...I think I get a little weird about "training", I don't really like to go out to a pet store or go into a busy parking lot to run obedience exercises. I feel like people think I am being mean "making" them work. :p I'll get after my dogs to behave if necessary out and about only if not doing so would make them continue the behavior. I'm not ashamed of using training aids.

    My store hosted Dock Dogs and I did have someone approach me and tell me they thought it was totally cruel that we made dogs jump off docks for the public's entertainment :rofl1:. Also it was way too hot for dogs to be outside.

    I do think some of the dogs on that group are underweight. Not necessarily starving, but definitely in need of some groceries. I used to be really, really conscious of my dogs' weights, almost obsessive. I look back now and they were too skinny. I don't care as much anymore, as long as they don't look like a barrel with legs, they don't need to be in optimal fit condition.
     
  10. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

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    I don't know that the public has any idea what's going on, but I always feel funny when Cajun has her e-collar on and I have a treat bag strapped to me. If the public thinks anything, they think that I'm just electrocuting my dog left and right. How is it possible for treats and clickers to be involved in that abuse.
     
  11. Oko

    Oko Silence, peasants.

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    I'd say the only big change I make with dog people vs general dog owners is in ours dogs interactions. Dog people are so much more reasonable when it comes to dogs figuring out where they stand with each other, on the flip side you never know when someone will be very offended that your dog snarked at theirs, because they don't want dogs to act like dogs.

    Also a kind of funny thing, one time I was playing tug with Feist in a park, smacking her around. I looked up at people watching us, and from their expressions I believe they thought 1. I was trying to get her let go of the toy, 2. I was actually hurting her. Whoops! Same thing happened once when I was using her leash as a tug (with it on)...probably looked like a nut trying to hit my dog and get her to let go of her leash.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  12. Dogdragoness

    Dogdragoness Happy Spring!!!!

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    Lol I get a lot of strange looks when I do this with Josefina in public, in fact I got so much flack that I started doing it on purpose. I would have her tug and "smack" her around and when some nosy person comes up to give me (usually CM related) advice I just look straight at them and say "drop it!" And out the toy comes, boy are they ever embarrassed ha ha.
     
  13. Elrohwen

    Elrohwen New Member

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    Mostly this. I'm self-conscious about training in public, so while I'm happy to reward my dog for good behavior, and work on manners, I'm not out practicing heeling and obedience behaviors. It's probably one reason his obedience isn't great. Haha. I don't think people will necessarily think I'm being "mean" - I just don't like drawing attention to myself I guess, and I know that people stare and make comments when training is going on. Usually positive comments actually ("Wow, he's like a show dog or something!"), but I'd rather they just left us alone to concentrate.

    Otherwise, no, I don't change how I would normally interact with him while out in public. I've had a couple negative comments when he's worn a prong, but usually more curious "does that hurt the dog?" instead of "you are abusing him!" comments.
     
  14. Ozfozz

    Ozfozz Highbread Dingbat

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    We do stuff like that fairly frequently.
    A few weeks back I found a large log on the ground and was having Cobain vault off of it and grab his tug toy that I was holding in the air.
    It looked intense and maybe a tad aggressive. But the responses! :rofl1: People leashed up their dogs and kept them far away from him, all whilst glaring me down.
    I heard mutterings of "I don't know why someone would own such a vicious dog"

    I would have explained if they asked....either way Cobain was nice and tired afterward.
     
  15. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

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    Lol I play tug with the leash too when we're on walks and I bet people think I just have out of control dogs who can't behave on walks. They are correct that they are out of control, but the leash grabbing is encouraged :p
     
  16. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    I'm about the same. I just don't baby talk them as much. :lol-sign: I'm really bad about talking to them.

    I've gotten weird looks though from

    1. working agility in the front yard
    2. Doing nosework box work in the driveway (it's the best spot for it! People will STARE and STARE though trying to figure out if you're searching for drugs)
    3. Showing people that mia can do a handstand (they do think it's cool though)
    4. Taking a bite of food then giving the rest over to the dog. I did that out of habit at a dinner party once... Uh yeah... that's bad manners. But they had such a cute sheltie! And she was begging.... I blushed so bad after realizing I'd done that. It was subconscious... Didn't realize what I'd done till after the fact.

    Oh and the nosework- we use parks and parking lots to search. When we have the shepherds or labs out vehicle searching (our vehicles, not other peoples') we get worried looks. We've actually had a police officer come over to see what is up. He thought it was cool when we explained what we were doing/training for.
     
  17. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    Not so much in the sense of the OP where an innocuous (to dog people) activity is seen as mean, etc. At least not to my knowledge.

    I do tend to speak to my dogs in full sentences, though. Which creeps nondog people out. Especially when the dogs comply, haha.
     
  18. Pops2

    Pops2 New Member

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    I am surprised at the number of people who should know better but don't. When a veterinarian or one of their employees incorrectly calls a fit dog underweight, I call them out for their ignorance on the spot. I don't care who is around.
    What also kills me is REALLY active people who don't understand the difference between fit & fat. But I am much more tolerant & educational with them. I just use the analogies of athletics, since they easily grasp the big fat guy isn't going to be a world class swimmer or marathon runner, they tend to catch on quickly.
     
  19. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    I'm actually shocked that people don't react negatively to joring with the dogs, especially during scooter season. Some people are mildly puzzled, but really I've never encountered anyone who didn't think it was funny and/or amazing.

    I thought of this thread today, though. I have a plot at a local community garden and right on the other side of the walkway going by my plot is a nice grassy, shady area next to a small woods and I almost always bring Pip and stake him out there on the grass while I work in the plot. One of the other gardeners stopped to chat today and she says to him "It's kind of hot out here for someone with fur!" I just kind of gave her a puzzled face but inside I was thinking "Yes, my dog who is still wet from swimming earlier and lounging on the grass in the shade with water and a cool breeze blowing through his feathers is obviously super distressed." I guess I'll have to change how I do things. :p
     
  20. Melle

    Melle New Member

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    The public loves Nina and I've never gotten any negative comments whatsoever, but we get TONS of compliments. So can my dad stand in for the average public?

    He thinks she wants to/is one day going to eat him, that feeding her raw would be teaching her to eat people, and pretty much fear-mongers - which I know because my siblings or whoever mention the comments he makes when she and I aren't around. As if a 270lb man couldn't body slam a skinny 45lb dog if he needed to anyway...

    I think it's pretty "funny" (in the most pathetic way) that he thinks she's out to get him because she always barks at him AFTER he brandished a hardware tool at her once when she was 10months old because she ran up and play-bowed. Rambunctious, yes. Vicious man-eater? No.
     

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