Is It Ever Okay to Discipline Someone Else’s Dog?
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Whether your dog is a purebred or not, they’re a member of your family and are usually treated as such. This means, of course, that we train and discipline our dogs according to our view and beliefs. For some this means minimal behaviour modification as they seek to let their dog “be themselves.” Others seek to adjust their dogs’ behaviour in order to protect their furnishings and possessions, knowing that in order to live with their pet they must have a balance. Some people train their dogs to perform tricks, some people take their dogs to professional groomers, and some even buy custom costumes for their pets to wear. When it comes to living with a beloved pet, there is no “right” way to live.
Still, clashing concepts of what’s appropriate or necessary can sometimes lead to conflict. Sometimes we’ll observe behaviour in someone’s dogs that we would personally never allow. When a dog is brought into our home we’re faced with the situation where an animal behaves in ways we don’t allow our own pets. Is there ever a situation where it’s acceptable to discipline a dog (or any pet) that belongs to someone else? We’ve all had the urge, but it’s never a good idea, for a variety of reasons.
For one, it can be very confusing to the animal. Dogs are not complex beings that are aware of different philosophies and worldviews. If you suddenly apply rules and discipline techniques to a dog that is unfamiliar with them, it can be a frightening and upsetting moment for the animal, and as a dog lover you should never choose to alarm and upset a dog. In fact, the sudden confusion of an unfamiliar person chastising them may cause even more unexpected and undesirable behaviour.
Second, it’s not your place. The Dog’s owner determines how their dog is treated, at all times unless obvious cruelty is observed. Otherwise, the right way to approach the situation is to first ask yourself if the dog’s behaviour is truly worth commenting on. If it’s simply a disagreement of philosophy or a minor breach of politeness, it might be best to ignore it. If the dog’s behaviour is truly having an impact on your life or property, the right thing to do is to approach the dog’s owner and express your concerns. Often simply pointing out that you don’t allow something in your house is sufficient. If the situation is occurring on your property, you of course have the right to insist on certain rules. If you’re in public or in the other person’s home, think twice before you say anything.
The exceptions to any of these guidelines is the safety of everyone your dogs, their dogs, and the people. If a dog’s behaviour threatens either their own or someone else’s safety or health, you have every right to step in and intervene. Otherwise, it’s best to communicate your concerns to the pet’s owner and stay out of any direct efforts to discipline the dog or adjust its behaviour. You wouldn’t want someone interacting with your own dog in a manner you didn’t approve of be sure to extend that courtesy to other dog owners as well.
About the author: Jackie McLellan and her family are based in Scotland and are animal mad, living with dogs, cats, rabbits and sheep. Jackie breeds beautiful Australian Labradoodle puppies and regularly has labradoodles puppies for sale.