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Dealing with a friend who is a bad dog owner

2276 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  parus
Hi everyone. I need advice! How do you deal with someone who is completely oblivious to their dogs' behavior?

My husband's best friend and his girlfriend have two rescue dogs, a young male and a senior female. The dogs are friendly with people but very reactive toward other dogs. The senior female really doesn't want to be messed with at all and makes that very clear, but they do not advocate for her. They're constantly putting her in stressful situations (which is basically any interaction with any dog) and letting her "defend herself" by snapping. The young male is very dominant and overbearing, and in my opinion, aggressive. His body language is very clear to me, but they don't seem to recognize it. They often say, "that's just how he plays." When he does attack other dogs (which I've seen him do on two occasions), they put a shock collar on him. It's absolutely horrific. I know better than to ever let my dogs play with them... but it's still really unpleasant to be around these people with their dogs. Do I say something? The girlfriend used to be a vet tech, so I have a feeling she would be defensive... but I'm not sure what to do. Is this not my business? Or is it my responsibility to step in for the sake of the dogs? Please help!
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It's interesting to me how many "dog problems" are really people problems.

Whether you intervene is probably a matter of how important the friendship is to you (and your husband.) It seems likely they won't take any suggestions kindly or even seriously. I don't see such a confrontation ending well for anyone.
is there any way you could make an anonymous complaint to animal services explain the problem and ask if someone could have a word with them about possible training etc that way you wouldn't need to rock the boat personally and if they got a warning from an official source they might be more willing to take some action.
I think RonE's right. You have to decide if you want to speak up enough to lose a friendship. You can truthfully tell these people that seeing them use the shock collar and put their dogs in situations they (dogs or people) can't handle upsets you so much you don't want to be in situations where you do see it any more. They may blow you off, decide you're wrong and hyper-sensitive and still be friends, or they may get angry and that's the end of the friendship. I doubt if they'll shape up, but maybe you'll plant a seed that may sprout someday if enough other people hint at the same thing. Of course, if the male dog causes injury to another dog, they may get a real education in consequences.

Or if they meet someone like me.... I'm one of those who when people yell out, "He's friendly," when their dog comes charging at me and mine, yells back, "I don't care. I'm not."

Pandora's suggestion is certainly worth a try, but my guess is Animal Control will tell you if there's no real abuse, talking to people like this couple isn't their job.
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Step one might be to try a positive training approach ON THEM. You might find a persuasive article or articles about positive alternatives to shock collar use, about dog body language, etc. and share them with them, like, "I came across this, and I thought it might help with the situation you're having with your dogs" or something along those lines...it sounds more like they're ignorant than uncaring, so a gentle push in the right direction might be enough to get them started down better, kinder paths.
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