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  • Richard Chan

The petting zoo is that way

When l take my dogs out on walk, l never let anyone pet my dogs.

I also never let any dog come to say hi nor will l ask my dogs to go say hi to other dogs on leash.

I am not interested in doing these things, and my dogs are perfectly fine without doing any of those things. If they want to be petted, they would want to be petted by me; if they want to say hi, they would say hi to dogs we trust when they are off leash.

It really comes down to the kind of relationship l have with my dogs.

Many people with dog aggressive, dog reactive, or fearful dogs had at one point in their life believed that having a "friendly" dog was the ultimate goal of dog ownership.

Having a friendly dog who loved everyone was the relationship they wanted.

Then they started to have problems, then they wanted to get their dogs back to being friendly...

Until one day, they finally understood trying to be "friendly" was the issue. Once they stopped treating their dogs like petting zoo animals, their relationship with their dogs was elevated to a whole new level and everyone was much happier.

I don't want to have a friendly dog. I am not running a petting zoo. My dog is not here to entertain the world.

My dogs have feelings and dignity. They are intelligent beings. They do not exist so some strangers can pet them-most of the time in an inappropriate manner-in order to feel good about themselves.

I do not care for that kind of relationship. I do not have a dog so strangers can feel good about themselves. I have a dog so my dog can feel good about herself.

I want my dog to be the best she can be. I want her to be calm and balanced. I want my dogs to be confident, robust, and strong so they are fine even if l am gone for a few hours, even when we walk past reactive dogs, even when we come across a crazy drunk person...

I want my dogs to know l am their light house, their compass, their map, and their anchor. They can relax and rest in me anytime no matter what.

I want a special relationship with my dogs. It is not about being friendly, it goes much deeper than that - it is about being intimate.

My dogs are fine when someone pets them but why would l want to do that?

My dog and l are out on a walk like a couple are out on a date - do l invite everyone l meet to hug my wife because she will tolerate it and remain polite?

Why would l want to do that? What for?

Why would anyone want a stranger whom they know nothing about to intrude their dogs?

How about be the leader your dog expects you to be and advocate for your dog?

If your dog cannot walk away from a stranger and follow you, that means your dog has just chosen a complete stranger over you - How relevant are you to your dog? Is that the kind of relationship you want?

If you are on a dinner date with your girlfriend but she cannot stop talking to every stranger man she sees in the restaurant, will you say you are the most important person to her? Is that the kind of relationship you want? Will you be really proud of yourself because you have such a "friendly" girlfriend?

A well socialized dog should have no problem ignoring other dogs and people. A well socialized dog should choose the handler over a stranger any time of the day.

If you don't believe me, please just look at a well trained service dog. Is a service dog aggressive because he does not want to be petted? Is a service dog not a good dog because he is not "friendly"? Is there something wrong with a service dog because he does not act like an animal in a petting zoo?

I want what is best for my dogs, and l am really proud and respectful of my dogs. They trust me and l will do everything l can to honour that trust.

That is why l will never treat my dog like she is an animal in a petting zoo - and either should you.


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