I hate it when people take advantage of a dog’s affinity to people-please. Jack and I were out at the park down the road from our house the other day, it was a bit later than we normally walk so we were sauntering along sticking mostly to the shade and taking our time to take in all the smells! I suddenly heard this gruff voice and heavy breathing coming up behind us and turned to see a man with a very furry German Shepherd on a gentle leader style leash jogging towards us. The shepherd growled at Jack a few times, and with every growl or head turn the man would aggressively yank his dog back and mutter obnoxiously at him, probably contributing to the overall aggressiveness of his dog.
I stopped Jack, and moved him off the path and into a sit to observe and keep him out of harms way while the man and his dog continued on.
There were many things about this sight that aggravated me, but one more particularly than others. It was hot. Too hot. I had opted to shorten Jacks walk, and keep him in the shade that day to compensate for that but the mans dog was not getting any such sympathy from his owner. He had to be absolutely roasting under his thick double coat trying to keep up as his human jogged ahead wrenching on his neck and head if he showed any resistance.
I imagine if I confronted the man he would have the same reaction many people do when it’s suggested that their dog is doing something it doesn’t want to do: “He’s happy, he loves it, look at the smile on his face”. And outwardly most dogs will always look happy to be doing something with their humans no matter the cost. No matter if their feet are burning, there mouth is dry, or they are breathing so hard they want to throw up. They will do whatever asked of them by their trusted human because they are loyal to a fault.
We feed them, we take care of them, and even if we do that poorly they will do whatever is asked of us because we are their humans. Many humans, unfortunately clouded in ignorance and misunderstanding take that loyalty and exploit it sometimes endangering our dogs, ourselves, and other people/pets. That’s how people get dogs to fight, and become aggressive guard dogs or take up any number of dangerous behaviors is by exploiting the dogs natural tendency to please the person that they are loyal too.
This is why as good pet parents we have to be extra mindful of our pets needs, and make sure that they are taking care of themselves and not putting themselves in danger just to please us. Please keep this in mind especially as the hotter weather comes upon us. Don’t sacrifice your dogs safety for your jog because he looks happy, or is willing, or you don’t want to jog alone. Give Fido a break, and let him take care of him!