Rue is still a puppy; she’s playful and inquisitive, friendly and excitable – traits of which I will always encourage. It’s imperative that as a young dog she is well socialised and learns boundaries by herself.
Obviously this would never be at the expense of another dog or their owner – and Rue is no-ones responsibility but my own. But without her meeting other dogs and testing herself, she will never learn.
Rue is a Corgi, she’s intelligent but she’s stubborn – her re-call is pretty darn great for a pup, but as soon as another dog turns up, selective hearing tunes in. If she’s off the lead, I’ll make my way over to the owners as quickly as possible and, if it’s a no-go for playtime I’ll get her straight back on her lead, as soon as I can.
I am by no means an expert when it comes to raising a pup. But the inspiration to write this post came from a place of real sadness.
Tears are pricking my eyes as I sit at my desk with Rue noisily slurping her water bowl next to me – because this morning, we encountered our first aggressive dog owner.
We were in the park, alone, as a lady entered with her dog. Rue went straight to them despite my call and I ran over apologising, explaining she was as puppy and just wanted to play, whilst attempting to grab her collar.
The woman was instantly furious and within just seconds of me trying to get Rue, told me she would kick her if I didn’t pick her up immediately.
I could not believe that anyone, especially a dog owner, would threaten such disgusting behaviour. And whilst it shouldn’t matter, because Rue should come when asked, in this instance, her dog was more than happy to play. I put Rue back on her lead and calmly said to the woman to never threaten a dog owner ever again. She turned to me and said ‘I didn’t threaten you’ and walked away. I called after her that she was disgusting and we quickly made our way home.
I thought I was going to throw up – Never in my life have I felt so sick to my stomach that someone could behave that way.
I will always appreciate nervous dog owners, and will do my best to make sure Rue doesn’t upset anyone – but she is a beautifully, fiercely friendly dog that wouldn’t hurt a fly. She is absolutely not a threat and shouldn’t be threatened.
I shared this encounter on my instagram stories and the amount of replies I had saying they’d experienced the same thing, or had even had someone kick their dog, was astounding.
I can so easily see now how dog owners get themselves in a rut of keeping their dogs on the lead, ultimately encouraging defensive behaviour from their pups. Perhaps that lady had had a bad experience in the past,
but abuse is certainly not the way to channel fear.
So, I wanted to write something today, to share with anyone that may have experienced something similar – on how I have and will continue to raise Rue. That I won’t let an experience like this, taint her freedom or my bravery for her to grow into a lovely dog.
We choose to keep dogs as pets, and so often we can forget that they aren’t actually humans. We smother them with treats, toys, pampering, commands; we dictate when they sleep, drink, eat – that so little of their lives are actually within their control. Of course all of that is important, but for me, these are the fundamentals that ensure Rue still has that sense of freedom.
They deserve to be able to run at the speed that they choose to sniff for as long as they need and, if appropriate, be able to interact with other dogs. My first thought when I got home from the incident that happened this morning was ‘should I be keeping Rue on a short lead?’ and the answer is, absolutely not. She is exploring her right to be a puppy – and with age and my guidance, she’ll learn her boundaries. I have however, been recommended to try a long line lead – which will give Rue the freedom she deserves to explore, but will also allow me to get her back before approaching other dogs, until her recall is better.
I do believe that often, dogs who are always kept on a short lead can become aggressive to others. They’ll more than likely feel threatened by their position – and whilst on their lead, they’re not able to escape or explore a situation should they need to, leading to defensive reactions which will usually come across as hostile and unfriendly. So perhaps long line leads for nervous pups should be explored more too, as opposed to keeping them either on a short lead, or having them completely off lead. And whilst the ladies behaviour this morning wasn’t acceptable, or necessary, it has given me the option to explore other ways for keeping Rue and other doggos safe.
I believe, that when I chose to have a dog, I chose to let this house be her home. If she wants to lie by the front door, she can. If she’d rather go upstairs and chill on her own, that’s fine too. We have plenty of time for walks and playing together – but a lot of the time dogs like to chill out, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re bored or upset and I feel it’s super important for them to know they can relax in that space.
I knew it was imperative when I got Rue that she understood basic commands, come, sit, wait etc. It’s the language for us to communicate when needs must; but that’s as far as we’ve taken it. I totally appreciate how lovely and rewarding it is for other dog owners to invest a lot of time in training, but for me, as long as Rue can follow simple obedience, that’s enough for me. She knows what’s right and wrong, I don’t want her to feel like she has to perform for me.
Some of the above may seem a little soft to some – but don’t get me wrong, Rue knows who’s in charge. Naughty (albeit rare) behaviour isn’t tolerated and she will always be told off sternly if she does something wrong. But I truly believe that all of the above mean those times are so few and far between. She knows that with me she’s safe, but that ultimately she can relax and enjoy her life.
So that’s how I do it – I may not always get it right, and today has shown that not all people can deal with the excitement of a puppy…not everyone should have to, and I will always be responsible for Rue’s behaviour. I never want anyone to feel threatened by her, or me but I’ll absolutely continue to let Rue have her freedom. And I will never, ever let someone else’s aggressive behaviour scare me into how I should live my life with my pup. I hope you guys won’t, either.