In this article, we share a “rant” from the In Dog We Trust Association.
(For those of you who don’t know her, In Dog We Trust is an association specializing in the rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption of reactive dogs. Its founder, Gaëlle, recovers extremely aggressive dogs, and rehabilitates them , helped by benevolent canine educators, then she finds them a family. She has already written a few articles for our Review! If you want to know more about this association, here is their website).
“There are no bad dogs, only bad owners”
Here is a sentence that we often hear… And which is simply false, and even downright unfair.
And for several reasons.
First, as In Dog We Trust points out:
What is a “bad dog”?
Does a dog that has bitten once in its life deserve to be called “bad”?
And a dog that bites every time you brush it? What about a dog that only bites when scared?
What about the hyperactive dog, who refuses to settle down? A dog that barks when alone? Of the dog who has no recall, because each time you let him go, he only thinks of chasing rabbits?
When do you call a dog “bad”?
In short, this appellation leaves something to be desired.
But it is above all the second part of the saying that poses a problem.
Arnaud and Emmeline adopted their dog at the SPA a few months ago.
His name is Fox, he is a Malinois mix, and Fox hates other dogs.
Impossible to let go: he rushes on the first comer, and attacks him brutally.
We do not know the story of Fox, but a failed socialization, and genetics that leave something to be desired made him a very very reactive dog.
Arnaud and Emmeline know that Fox’s chances of adoption are low. They know what happens to aggressive dogs that don’t find adopters.
So they pick it up.
And, even if they don’t regret their choice… they are often discouraged by the magnitude of the work.
At each walk, Emmeline and Arnaud are on the lookout. They never go out without their clicker and treats. As soon as they meet another dog, they change sidewalks, or even turn around. At each walk, Fox is muzzled and tied up.
(One day they took him out without a muzzle, but came across another dog at a street corner. Fox grabbed him by the ear and badly injured him).
Walks are not fun: they are work. Stress. Preparation. Sometimes even physical strength (because holding back a 30kg dog that throws itself on its fellow creatures is not always easy).
Arnaud and Emmeline are not giving up, but progress is slow. There is a lot of work to catch up on.
So when they hear ” There are no bad dogs… only bad masters! », they sometimes want to throw in the towel. They blame.
They wonder if it’s their fault. They wonder if they are up to it. If it’s really worth imposing all these constraints…
Are they part of these famous “bad masters”?
Problem dogs: stop systematically blaming their humans!
It is not necessarily the owner’s fault if a dog is aggressive. Anxious. Messy. Inattentive.
Dogs have their own individuality, and there are a lot of factors out of your control – even more so when adopting an adult dog from a shelter.
Genetic. Trauma during pregnancy. Socialization being a puppy. Previous traumatic experiences.
All of these factors can lead to behavioral problems… and the adopter can do absolutely nothing about it, except react when he detects it.
I quote here Gaëlle, from In Dog We Trust:
« I have met many dog owners who have sacrificed absolutely everything for their terrible pooch.
Moving to a place without stimulation; lessons with a super educator; practice every day without wavering; adaptation of the environment, of the family system; increased physical activity; part-time work or even stop working to stay with Mr. Canid; putting in various canine disciplines… and doggie remains responsive. »
Yes, some masters educate their dog anyhow. It happens, of course.
More no more hasty generalizations.
Congratulations instead to those who do not give up.
No, sometimes love and patience are not enough.
Sometimes it takes a lot of work. Of time. Help. Some advices. And sometimes, in the most serious cases, even with all this investment, the dog remains reactive.
And it’s not your fault.
So stop at the saying “ There are no bad dogs… Just bad masters ».
Let us rather have compassion for these “bad masters” who do not give up, and who fully assume their aggressive dogs; inattentive; or anxious.
Let’s conclude by quoting, one last time, In Dog We Trust:
« To you reactive dog owners, thank you for your furry ones. Thank you for all your sacrifices, thank you for your commitment to them, you are the best. Even if failure is always 2 fingers away, you have succeeded more than 80% of dog owners. And even if nobody sees it: we don’t care 🙂
Bravo to you, and thank you for them! »