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  • Richard Chan

Get off my playground!

“Is your dog friendly among children?” A mother with a toddler asked. l politely blocked them as Anja tried to potty, and explained “my dog is in training. Please kindly leave my dog alone. Thank you.” “Is your dog friendly?” She insisted to know. “Sorry she is in training and she needs to be ignored.” Still blocking. Now Anja was down on the ground totally indifferent to them. Because Anja did not wag her tail and run up to them, the mother thought she might be aggressive. “She doesn’t look friendly. You should not bring her to this school.” The society has this obsession about “friendly” dogs and a big misunderstanding about how a dog should behave in public. Parents are not teaching their children the proper way to view, understand, and interact with dogs. It is very disturbing and sad. They often assume their children can treat a dog like a petting zoo animal as long as they have asked first. They almost never expect “no” for an answer. They also never expect the dog to may be dislike certain way of being petted. They assume a friendly dog is a free for all, like a toy. If you see someone blocking you from coming closer , you should teach your children to back away and give the person and dog space. This is called respecting other people’s space. It is very ignorant and insensitive for a human to keep applying spatial pressure unto a dog that way. You are a stranger that l know nothing about. I don’t know how you may try to pet my dog. I don’t know if you will listen to me if l ask you to stop. If you do something inappropriate (if you toddler pulls my dogs tail, scream at my dog, put his finger in her ear...) it can revert my dog’s training. I gain nothing from taking this risk. My dog is very well socialized and well trained. I don’t need to prove anything to you. I teach my dog to pay attention to me among distractions. I don’t want my dog to pull, bark and jump up on other children like the other “friendly” dogs do around us on the school playground. Last thing l want to teach my Czech working line German Shepherd is to act “friendly” and pull me toward every child on the playground wanting to say hi. I have no obligation to let you pet my dog. I do not train my dog for anyone’s petting pleasure. It is your obligation to respect other people’s dog, just like you would with their children, spouse... You don’t feel entitled to force other people to let you touch their children or hug their spouse, do you? Just because l don’t want your toddler to pet my dog does not mean l have an aggressive dog. If l try to touch your toddler and you tell me no, can l presume your toddler is vicious to people and tell you not to bring your toddler to the playground? Will you force someone who is doing his business in the bathroom to hug or kiss you? Why do you bother my dog when she was doing her business? As parents, it is very important that we educate ourselves and set an example for our children to follow. As human, we should show respect to other people’s wishes and their space. As dog owners, we need to advocate for our dogs and put their interest first. Teach yourself and your child how to respect other dogs the way you would with people, everyone and their dogs will be safer and happier. It is common courtesy which has unfortunately become very uncommon these days.


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