When friendly turns not-so-friendly


It seems to be the catch cry of all dog owners that have friendly dogs, who sometimes don’t listen. “My dog is friendly”. You’ll hear them yelling from 300 mtrs behind their dog as it comes barrelling toward you. But, when will it be time to understand that whether your dog is “friendly” or not isn’t the point?

I want to preface this with the fact that I am not a professional dog trainer or behaviorist, I am just Raffertys mum. A mum to an anxious boy who copes with most situations……until he doesn’t.

One of the situations he doesn’t cope with is a dog running at him full speed with no sign of stopping. I’ll tell you one thing, if some strange person was running at me full speed and not stopping, I wouldn’t be asking them out for coffee and a chat!

The fact that a dog, under normal circumstances, is super friendly, playful and full of love, doesn’t always mean that will be the case when faced with an unsure dog who may hackle, growl or simply tense.

Think of it this way. Most of us are normal, happy fun loving humans who will have a chat and are generally friendly, but if you were jogging along a road and out of nowhere appeared a man, that you didn’t know who was bigger than you and he was coming toward you at speed staring in your direction, you probably wouldn’t smile and ask how his day was, would you?

You’d probably back away, look defensive and if he didn’t stop, find a way to defend yourself just in case, and when that man got to you, he may be wondering why you look so defensive when all he wanted to do was say Hi. Well, that’s what your “friendly” dog may do as well. They come flying down to an unsure dog only to be greeted with a defensive, scared and tense body that says I’m ready to fight if I have to and all of a sudden your “fun-loving, friendly” dog may just decide, based on the body language of the other dog that they should be fighting, and become the aggressor.

I know you’re thinking, “My dog would never do that” but here’s the thing, they’re a dog! You really only have an educated guess as to how they’ll react in that situation. The trouble is, because your dog is usually “friendly” you may find he or she starts a fight they aren’t prepared for, and neither are you.

And here lies the problem.

It’s not about if you have a friendly dog or the other dog is not-so-sure, it’s a case of “Why did you place your dog at risk?” We know you didn’t do it on purpose, we all want what’s best for our dogs, as you would any member of your family, so please don’t take the risk that your “friendly” dog may run into a dog who may be injured, sore, scared or anxious and risk the health of both of them. If you lived on a highway, you wouldn’t let your 2 legged kids run around free next to the road and just hope that every driver was alert enough not to cause them harm, because you feel they need to be able to run? You’d find them a safe space to run and be a kid, and you should be doing the same for your 4-legged kids.

All dogs, big, small, friendly and not-so-sure deserve the chance to run free and feel safe in their environment and that’s why I am hoping that Australia will support Sniffspace and our journey to provide Safe. Secure. Sniffari spaces for all dogs to simply be..

Written by Tracey, Co-Founder of Sniffspace, Rafferty’s mum and not a dog trainer. All views are my personal opinions and may not be valid in every situation.

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