Karen B. London
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I’m Not Judgmental About Dogs’ Behavior
Do people think I am?
I'm not judging, honest!

On a day that I had gone for a run, and not yet had a chance to shower I saw the woman who cuts my hair, looking chic and well-styled as always. We said our hellos and then I burst out with, “I swear my hair hardly ever looks like this! The cut you just gave me is great and I’ve been able to make it look really nice, but today I went for a run and then threw it into a ponytail and rushed here!” Always kind, she smiled and was very gracious about my weird behavior. I wondered out loud to my friend whether this poor woman is used to people acting this way when they see her.

My friend said, “I’ll bet people feel the same way when they see you and their dog is not being a saint. I replied, “I’m not judging dogs’ behavior when I see them!” And it’s true. I understand that dogs can get very excited when out and about and that what I see may not be their typical behavior. And my friend asked me, “But do you really think the woman who cuts your hair is going around judging people for not having perfect hair?”

I gave this a lot of thought and realized that people often want to show me what their dog can do—a new trick, not jumping up to greet me, an impressive down-stay or anything else the dog can do well. They are so proud when the dog does just what they want, and I love to applaud these successes with them. I’m well aware that it means a lot to people to show me the best in their dog. I just hadn’t thought about the other side of the coin—when the dog goofs in front of me by jumping up, pulling on the leash, barking or any other imperfect behavior. I tend to focus on celebrating what the dog is doing right rather than becoming worked up about other behavior. After all, it’s not like I’ve ever had a dog whose behavior was consistently perfect.

Have you had the experience of your dog acting up in front of just the person you want them to show off for? Have you had your dog make you proud, too?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

photo by chrissthegirl/Flickr




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Submitted by GWPLady | August 10 2012 |

My Rescue GWP Baldwin has made me more proud than ever acting up....we recently took in a Gwp mix mama and her litter of puppies...they all contracted distemper from the shelter. We are a licensed rescue center with our wonderful vet on staff...we hospitalized mama and pups...we sadly lost all of the babies that were 8 weeks old. Mama Peaches began her slow recovery. Baldwin took Mama Peaches under his wing as soon as she was able to interact with others. She follows him in the yard, even though her hind end is still weak from the distemper...she gravitates to him for comfort. He is patient, and kind. He offers her companionship as I know she is grieving the loss of her babies. Am so proud of Baldwin. GwpRescue.com

Submitted by shirley zindler | August 17 2012 |

What a sweet example of why dogs are so wonderful. Thank you so much for fostering(My blog on fostering just posted in Bark). I'm currently fostering a very sick puppy from a sad situation and she may not pull through. It can be heartbreaking but I so appreciate that you tried and that Peaches had you to care for her in her time of need.

Submitted by shirley zindler | August 17 2012 |

My four rescue dogs usually make me so proud but my little rescue Chi/pug mix once walked into the shelter where I work and lifted his leg inside, right in front of the big boss! He's perfectly house trained and I was mortified! We figured out the several shelter dogs had peed there so he just added his mark.Dogs will be dogs and I should have been watching him. I learned that if another dog had gone inside I had to watch Rocky for the first few minutes to remind him that it was not ok.

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