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Why manners matter

This blog is republished with permission of the original author - a very good read!


The other day my partner and I were taking a walk through the woods when, on the far side of a clearing, we spotted another couple. We both immediately rushed over, waving our hands in the air and shouting at the top of our voices. One of the strangers was busy checking text messages and the other was watching a squirrel in a nearby tree so both were quite startled by our sudden arrival. The one checking his texts was quite grumpy about it and actually swore at us.

I am very easy-going, so I decided it was probably better just to move on if ‘Mr Grumpy’ didn’t want to know, but my partner is a bit more pushy and he immediately ‘bristled’ at this response and started yelling back. Pretty soon, the pair of them were having a full on argument that was threatening to turn physical any second…

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? While we might greet strangers with a polite ‘hello’ when we meet them while out walking, we certainly wouldn’t rush into their personal space and start shouting at them and, if we did, we wouldn’t be surprised if they were less than happy about it. It just isn’t polite or socially acceptable.

Of course, if we both had kids with us, it’s entirely possible that they might approach each other and even start playing together if they were all doing something mutually interesting. However, even they would probably approach politely and maybe stand watching for a while, waiting to be invited to play. If they bowled in rudely, demanding attention, they might well expect to find themselves unwelcome.

So, why do we allow our dogs to do this to other strange dogs they meet?

The problem is that while we are, rightly, encouraged to take our young pups out socialising to help them experience and learn about the world, we somehow seem to forget that, like us, they grow up and, like us, they too have complex social rules about meeting and greeting strangers. While both kids and pups should, of course, learn to meet and greet politely, they are more likely to get away with being a little bit ‘over the top’ while they are young. Adults who break the rules, however, are rarely tolerated for long. That is true both for humans and for dogs.

If you teach your young pup to behave rudely around other dogs and then actively encourage him to go on behaving rudely as an adult dog, don’t be surprised when his bad manners cause a fight! It’s no more normal or natural behaviour for a dog to rush up into a strange dog’s face, than it for us to do the same thing to a fellow human being, and this behaviour is the cause of most dog and owner problems that occur on a daily basis. All too often, such problems also result in dogs and even humans being bitten, and sometimes in dogs being seized and destroyed. 

Manners matter in the dog world too and it is up to us as responsible owners to make sure our dogs know how to be polite to their own kind too.

3 Comments to Why manners matter:

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Online essay on 15 June 2016 05:59
I am really impressed with this blog! Very clear explanation of issues is given and it is open to everyone.
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Fake Chanel Bags on 09 September 2016 07:26
We both had kids with us, it’s entirely possible that they might approach each other and even start playing together if they were all doing something mutually interesting.
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utua on 16 May 2017 17:33
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