Dear Paws: When I’m out at the dog park, I see so many people who are almost totally ignored by their dogs. No matter how much they scream or shout, their pets just do whatever they want. I’ve tried to tell them that yelling only goes so far, but they don’t listen. What else can I do? — Clarisse G., Cartersville, Ga.
Dear Clarisse: One of the hardest subjects to broach with other pet owners is how to handle their pets. Particularly with dogs, owners have relationships with them akin to their own child, and the results of well-intentioned advice tend to be ineffectual. Owners may even snap back at you for offering it.
However, a badly behaved dog in a public area can have a lot of poor repercussions. An unruly dog may be attacked by another dog, or a human may be injured by a dog bite — events like that just add fuel to arguments against dog parks or dogs in public areas.
To get a dog to behave on command, two key factors can make a difference in training: a calm, confident voice when giving commands, and consequences. If a dog won’t follow a command, corrective action has to be given as soon as possible — putting him back on the leash, leaving the dog park, whatever.
Not surprisingly, dog owners who aren’t controlling their dogs respond to the same factors. If a dog is disrupting the other pets’ enjoyment of the park, tell its owner — with confidence! — that their dog has to act within the park’s rules, or leave.
If they don’t respond, then bring the consequences: report the owner and dog to the city, or to the group — if the dog park has an organized group of other owners.
Send your questions or pet care tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.