Let’s reward great dogs and responsible owners

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These days it seems the general population sees two kinds of dogs. Good dogs and BAD dogs. Unfortunately we live in a punishment based society. If you speed you go to jail, if you take your dog off leash you get a fine, if you don’t go to work you lose your job. Fear and threat of punishment seem to be the first thing we learn in our society. How many people behave a certain way to avod punishment?

Incentives are important. We need to offer great dog behavior and responsible owners rewards for having well behaved canine citizens. In Seattle we have more dogs than children (truth) and more dogs per population density than any other city except San Francisco (dog mecca). That sounds great but the problem is dogs across the U.S. are becoming over-stimulated, more reactive and more aggressive. We have some fundamental social issues arising. Now city, state and eventually the federal government is coming up with restrictions on where dogs are aloud to be and what sort of dogs you can have. This is the beginning I fear of a path we are going to go down if we don’t do something now.

So what are the options? Either more dog police looking out for the bad ones… or, could we send trainers and dog enthusiasts out to promote our well behaved dogs? Instead of pushing dog owners out of public recreational fields and parks and into some muddy circle of chaos in the back corner of the park and calling it a dog park; lets work toward a dog public access pass. World renown trainer from the U.K. John Rogerson had a terrific concept of this test that would include a more involved version of the Canine Good Citizen award, this would work like a license. Essentially it would be a 3 part test on the dogs temperament and obedience and ability to be in control and calm in public places. I can’t even tell you how many owners make excuses for not having their dog under control. They tell me the dog knows how to do everything, sit, down, stay, heel, but he can’t do it if he sees another dog or a person if he wants to “say hi”. Really, so your dog is only in control in your living room or the space you where you went to puppy class 5 years ago? Hmmm, sounds like you don’t have control of your dog.

I would like to see COLA (Citizens for Off Leash Areas) working with trainers to promote something like this. Dogs should be able to earn a license to be out in public places and what if they could be off leash in certain parks that have posted signs allowing Public Access Certified dogs to unleash and enjoy the thrills of being off leash and playing with their owner or maybe a neighbor (not adding to the feral dog pack in the dog park). This is a big dream of mine but for now I want to reward good dog owners and great dogs in my community. As a certified evaluator for the American Kennel Club I plan to offer FREE Canine Good Citizen test for my neighbors and community. I will also go around and compile a list of businesses that acknowledge C.G.C certified dogs to hand out on the deck or come inside. We are lucky in Fremont to have businesses like Norm’s that are dog friendly but honestly there are a lot of poorly behaved dogs (and even some with major issues) that have no business going in there. The problem with dog parks and places like Norms is people with dogs (well mannered or problem dogs) feel they have the RIGHT to go not the PRIVILEGE. I want to encourage everyone who works with dogs to let someone know when they have a well mannered dogs. This is the greatest community outreach for dogs in public we could do as owners. Every time you see a calm dog out most people just ignore it as common place, we expect them to be well mannered. When a dog is out of control everyone calls attention to it (or it calls attention to itself) and makes those who don’t live with dogs wish they were not aloud to be there. It’s like getting sat next to the baby on the plane, dread instantly washes over us, we assume it will be hell and think all babies should be banned from airplanes. If that child does well we usually don’t say much to the owner but boy we will give them a scowl if it cries.

Let’s work together to offer rewards and extra incentives for those responsible and caring owners because Good Dogs really do Rule! Wouldn’t it be nice to have a cup of coffee or grab a pint almost anywhere and take your best friend with you?

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