Top 10 pet peeves about my fellow dog owners Don't tell me how to raise my dogs.

I’ve been an animal lover all my life, and through the years, I’ve developed some pet peeves when it comes to people interacting with pets. Here’s my list of the top offenders:

#10: Not giving dogs enough space

All dogs need space, much more so than humans. Without space, many don’t feel safe. People often allow their dogs to come running up to my car in anticipation of me letting my dogs out. They can wait forever, as I won’t let mine out when dogs are crowding their space.

#9: Telling me I am bribing my dogs when I am rewarding them

My dogs work hard for a living, and they are very well paid. If they are in an environment with high levels of distraction, I will reward them for paying attention to me. This not only helps them listen to me, but it builds their confidence and strengthens our bond.

Gina is very dog distracted. While she’s improved considerably, it is something I will always have to pay attention to. We recently went to an event with dozens of dogs nearby. I asked her to sit and started rewarding her. An acquaintance said, “That’s it. Just keep bribing her with food.” I said, “Would you work for free?”

#8: Telling me how I should feel about my dogs

Only I know what my dogs are capable of and what their needs are. I was once meeting a man for a first date, which involved going for a hike with Sanchez, after our meal. When I  went to move my car so that Sanchez would be entirely in the shade, he said, “Don’t worry. He’ll be fine.” Not only a pet peeve, but also a deal breaker. There wasn’t a second date. (And I did move the car anyhow.)

#7: Giving my dog a treat without asking me

Sanchez is allergic to chicken and eats a gluten-free diet. But, he’s a Lab, and, left to his own choice, he’ll eat anything. I’ve worked hard to clear him of all allergies by paying careful attention to his diet. When strangers don’t ask before they feed him, it creates problems for us.

#6: Giving my dog a treat when I’ve just called him to me

Unfortunately, this scenario happens frequently… I am walking my dogs off-leash. They see a stranger with food for them (see pet peeve #7). I call them back to me, and the stranger feeds them when they run to him. They’ve just been rewarded for unwanted behavior. Gina’s recall is good enough that she’ll come back to me when called. But, honestly, Sanchez’s isn’t. It only makes my training that much harder.

#5: Feeding my dogs from the table

My dogs daily eat human food. But, I NEVER feed them from the table, as it would be rewarding them for begging, an undesired behavior. Assuming that someone has made it through pet peeve #7 and I’ve given them permission to feed my dogs, it has to be done in an acceptable place, which is never at the table.

#4: Playing loud music at a dog-friendly event

I have a tendency to take my dogs everywhere. So, I love it that dog-friendly events are very popular. But frequently they come with live music, which unfortunately means a live band that plays at a volume way too loud for dogs. The loud sounds and music, combined with dogs not having enough space (see pet peeve #10), takes the “friendly” out of dog-friendly.

We bring dogs into our human environment and we expect them to adjust. Some do, many don’t. It’s important that we provide a healthy sound environment that is calming, rather than over-stimulating.

#3: Assuming that because I have dogs, I don’t like cats

I love all animals, I just happen to live with dogs and know more about their behavior. I live in a rural area and my neighbors are wildlife. An outdoor cat wouldn’t survive very long here; therefore I choose not to have one.

#2: Telling me I should let my dogs ride free in the car

I am a strong believer in crates. My dogs love them, because I have trained them from an early age that very good things happen in their crates, including some meals. They ride in crates in the car. I wish I had a dollar every time someone said, “Why do you make your dogs ride in cages?” I’m not aware of anyone ever asking a parent why their children have to wear seat belts.

#1: Someone saying, “Don’t worry, I don’t mind”

I hate to admit it, but Gina is a jumper. She’s improved tremendously. But, it’s hard to get to 100% when she starts to jump on someone and they say, “Don’t worry, I don’t mind.” Maybe you don’t, but I do. Because now she is not only jumping up, but also she’s usually getting rewarded with pets and affection simultaneously. (See pet peeve #6).

Now it’s your turn to rant. What are some of your pet peeves about pet people? Thanks for sharing them in a comment below.

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is Co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new Canine Noise Phobia series is a breakthrough treatment and prevention program for canine noise sensitivities. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina.

One Comment

  • Catherine S.

    I agree with all your points and would add petting without asking the owner’s permission. I think then you get what you deserve if the dog is not friendly. Owner’s rules should prevail. They know their dog best.

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