As a dog owner, I’ll bet you are asked that question a lot! Many people wanting to approach you and your dog might also ask “Is he alright?” (This probably means the same thing… but it’s also up for discussion.)
(Alright? Such as… is he hungry? nice? mean? sick? perverted? right in the head? infested with fleas? did he get enough sleep last night? horny? getting an urge to chew on something right about now?)
It’s always interesting that they seem to ask this when they are a foot away with their arms already extended, bending over and uttering gibberish. We shed some light on this question in a previous post.
For example, let’s take a look at this little guy at the top of page. At first, he might appear to be quite nasty. (Will he bite?) I don’t know. On second thought, he appears to be just a pup caught by the camera in a funny, playful pose. (But, is he really alright?) I don’t know. Define “alright”.
In addition, you really need to take a good look at the person behind the answers.
The next time someone asks if your dog is “alright” – have a little fun with it. If you can impersonate Bobcat Goldthwait, so much the better!
Checkout this 30 second video clip as Bobcat talks about accidentally setting a couch on fire as a guest on The Tonight Show!
Is he alright?
(Person approaching) “Is he alright…?”
(Dog walker using Bobcat’s voice) “Well, let’s see…is he alright? Yeah, I think so. He had a good appetite this morning and his poop looked pretty good. There were a few unidentifiables in there but for the most part, yeah, he’s OK and thank you very much for asking.”
(Person approaching) “Maybe I should rephrase my question…”What I really mean is this…Is he OK?”
(Bobcat Dog Walker) “Hmmm…he’s had all his shots, if that’s what you mean but this morning he started answering to the name of Cujo. Can you define ‘alright’?”
(Person approaching-still clueless) “He won’t jump on me, will he?”
(Bobcat Dog Walker) “That’s hard to say. Probably not, except for about 50% of the time. Depends if he likes you or not. Even then, it’s still about 50/50. He’s not even paying attention to you so I don’t know. Just don’t talk “baby talk” to him. I don’t think he likes that. Do you have a cookie for him. He really likes cookies. I’ll take one, too.”
(Person approaching-who is not approaching too quickly anymore) “I mean, how is he with people?”
(Bobcat Dog walker) “People? Yeah, sure, he’s seen people. Some days, he even chases men wearing hats. One hot summer day, he didn’t feel like chasing this one guy, so he just walked right up and peed on him; like three times.”
(Person approaching is now starting to look at me more than the dog) “Why do you think he did th…? Oh, never mind. How is he around kids?”
(Bobcat Dog Walker) “As long as they don’t look like the neighbor’s kids, I don’t know what he would do ”
(Person approaching-who is now starting to back away) “I really have to go now. All I wanted to know was – does your dog bite?”
Watch this video clip for the answer…
The above was a lighthearted approach to a serious issue and we have some serious answers at the end of the post.
While I don’t mind answering questions about my dogs, I shake my head in disbelief at the parents who allow their kids to run towards my dogs (or any dogs) while doing the “Doggie! Doggie!” thing. They approach head on shrieking with their little arms flailing. At this point the parents are yelling from 30 feet away, (as an afterthought) “Is he alright?” They expect and allow the dog walker (a complete stranger) to control the situation.
At this point, I should ask if their kids are “alright…” as they are the ones that appear to be out of control.
I understand both parents and their children need to be educated on this subject. This time, they are extremely lucky they are approaching an experienced handler with a couple of easy-going dogs. But hey, do these parents want to find out that someone’s dog “Never Did That Before” at the expense of their children?
Let’s face it, as much as we want to believe they are people in little furry coats, we are still dealing with animals. Domesticated, but still animals. Even highly trained police K-9 dogs have slipped away from their handlers and chased kids, knocked them down and have also bitten.
Many of these people don’t own dogs (but, then again, a lot of them do!) and they want to educate their kids at the expense of others. That goes right along with this thought process…”Our dog is going to have puppies so the children can experience the miracle of birth “. Hmmm…wouldn’t it be easier to hand them a book with lots of pictures? Better yet, why not just show them the film of their own birth? That should put a lid on it. After that, you might as well just call the vet and make the appointment because you don’t know “nothin’ ’bout “birthin’ no puppy babies”, anyway!”
Therefore, my answer to them in the future as they approach and ask “Does your dog bite?” I will have to smile and say…”I don’t know…he’s not my dog.”
Will my dogs bite? Probably not. If someone accidentally steps on the dog’s foot and they are face to face with the dog, will the dog bite if startled? My dogs? Still, probably not. Could they be startled enough to move very quickly, accidentally knocking someone down? Sure. Would I let a child run up to a dog? Hell, no. Even if I knew the dog and his “parents”? Nope.
Generally, most people walking their dogs have no control except for the leash and collar. Equipment failure never crosses their mind. The dog appears out of control and people will still want to approach and “pet” the dog after asking “Is he alright?”
Possibly the person walking the dogs is just that…the dog walker! Nothing more. Their job is to walk the dogs. As far as the dog being “alright”…who knows. Here’s a thought – does the dog walker (or even the owner) know that today the dog’s left ear is extremely painful when touched due to the beginning of an infection? That dog should not be out and walking until the situation is remedied.
A very basic rule to follow for both those approaching a dog and also for those at the other end of the leash is this:
Always ask permission to visit with someone’s dog. (Just because a dog is out in public is not an open invitation.) Next, ask them to have the dog sit and to hold that sit as they approach from the side. If the dog cannot remain seated, do not approach any further until a later date as the dog progresses with his training.
For those walking the dog-if your dog is too excited to sit when people approach, you do not have control. At this point, it’s probably not a good idea to let people start petting him and getting him overly excited as he might jump up on them; of which that in itself might scare quite a few. In addition, there is the possibility of scratching, bumping and bruising, getting knocked over and bitten even if they were just playing.
However, continue to work on the controlled sit using people as your distractions during training. Many are happy to help. Have your dog hold that sit-stay as the people simply walk by and continue on their way. This will help your dog to stay focused and calm when he sees people in the future.
Is that your dog?
One more hint for those walking their own dogs…if he misbehaves… apologize profusely stating over and over again that he’s not your dog (you’re just doing a favor for someone) and that you would never allow your own dog to behave this way 🙂
Until next time…
Always pick up after your dogs!
Dog Notes, Inc.