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People smacking their dog in the park

(25 Posts)
cakedup Wed 31-Aug-16 23:43:53

I am a big animal lover but I've never had a dog so don't know much about them in terms of training etc.

I was at a park recently, lots of families and quite a few dogs. Most on leads and all seemed happy enough. However, there was a family sitting in front of me with a dog on a lead and what I saw was really upsetting.

I think the dog was fairly young, and it was obviously very excited and curious, looking around at all the bustle and activity, looking desperate to join in. The man had him on the lead and was struggling a bit because the dog wouldn't keep still, so kept yanking at his lead and shouting at him.

Then both the man and his partner would give the dog a hard smack on his nose for various reasons, for example....when the woman walked over the dog went to jump up on her, when they got a bit of food out and the dog went to sniff it, and when the dog started licking the woman's hand.

The dog seemed to be in a really playful mood and seemed undeterred by the smacks, didn't whimper or anything. But poor thing just couldn't keep still and kept getting reprimanded for it. I was aghast at the treatment this poor dog was getting but my friend who was there simply commented that this is how some people train their dogs.

Is it?? It just didn't seem right to me. And if it's not right, what could I have done? I doubt they would appreciate a complete stranger going up to them and saying something or whether it would make any difference in the long run.

Can't stop thinking about that poor dog, he just reminded me of an overexcited playful toddler.

TrionicLettuce Wed 31-Aug-16 23:50:13

It is unfortunately just how some people train their dogs but that definitely doesn't make it right sad

I'm not sure what you really can do in such situations like that. As you say people generally don't appreciate being told they're doing something wrong, especially when it comes to their dogs.

People like that can always find "experts" to back them up as well. Anyone can set themselves up as a trainer or call themselves as a behaviourist and there are plenty of both who still believe in hitting or pack theory or any other training methods/ideologies that should have been abandoned by now.

cakedup Thu 01-Sep-16 00:02:11

So, it might not be right, but it is unfortunately common.

The dog was doing anything terrible, just being a playful pup. So how would someone train a dog to be a bit more controlled? And I thought dogs jumping up to greet their owners was a normal thing to do?

I noticed that whenever the woman smacked the dog she would sheepishly look over her shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

LilCamper Thu 01-Sep-16 09:25:44

You train them another incompatible behaviour using rewards. So, to stop a dog jumping up, you would teach them to sit when a human is approaching. Do it often enough and it eventually becomes a default behaviour.

pigsDOfly Thu 01-Sep-16 23:35:19

Not sure I'd class that as training tbh.

Woman in the park today with two huge German Shepherds, one dog takes itself over to a part of the park path that, I know, is always covered in rabbit droppings, dog's head goes down and I assume he's eating them. She rushes over grabs the dog by the collar, yanks it away from the path and hits it across the nose.

How anyone can think that the dog will learn anything from that, or that it's actually going to train the dog to leave the rabbit droppings alone, is beyond me.

Still, I supposed it does give the woman the opportunity to keep hitting the poor bloody dog every time it repeats the behaviour, which probably gives her some kind of satisfaction.

Not sure what you can say to someone who thinks it's acceptable to hit an animal OP, I doubt very much they'd be opened to hearing anyone's opinion tbh.

WyldFyre Fri 02-Sep-16 09:13:54

I was once at the park and there was a jack Russell playing with my lab. It got a bit rough (on the JR part) and it growled at her.
The JR owner smacked it hard across the rump and turned to me and said: "I'm sorry. I know you're not supposed to smack them but I will not have a dog that growls."
My response was: "So you'd rather have a dog that gives no warning before a bite?"

pigsDOfly Fri 02-Sep-16 13:24:21

Absolutely, the dog will just learn to keep that behaviour hidden and keep away from the owners hands. Makes giving medicines and grooming more difficult than it should be I imagine if every time the owner, or the vet, puts their hand out towards the dog it backs off or cowers away.

Why would anyone want that How can you build a bond with an animal that's unsure of you. When I put my hand out to my dog to stroke her head she puts her head towards me. It would never occur to her that my hand might cause her pain.

chough Fri 02-Sep-16 14:04:55

It would really upset me to see a dog mistreated like this, and I'd like to think that I would speak up, but I'm not sure I would, as I don't like confrontation.
DH would not be able to stop himself from saying something ( firmly and reasonably) to the owner, and he has on a few occasions, but he's more confident than I am ( and built like the proverbial outbuilding).

Mybeardeddragonjustdied2016 Fri 02-Sep-16 14:13:15

We had our 3 dogs and kids down the beach last year and a canny little terrier just wandered over - no problem dogs all fine - he shouted it back over and it didn't go so he came over and actually punched it in the face. We were all stunned. Kids were nearly crying and I felt sick literally. I said there was no need for that at all. He just stormed off. More embarrassed that the dog hadn't gone to him than that we had said something. Kids mentioned it for weeks. Some people just shouldnt have dogs.

chough Fri 02-Sep-16 14:20:20

Mybeardeddragon, that's terrible.
Yes, it would make me feel physically sick, too, and I wouldn't be able to forget it.
And your poor children, having to see such cruelty.
I would be wondering if he treats his dog like that in front of other people, what does he do at home.
Poor animal.

pigsDOfly Fri 02-Sep-16 16:58:43

That's awful Dragon that would really have upset me too. It is difficult to say something sometimes.

I did pull a woman up once for hitting her dog. It was in the street, young, ill trained dog. It was obviously the woman did it out of embarrassment as the dog was completely ignoring her and she was getting more and more irate with it. I'd been watching her for a while as I walked up the hill and was feeling quite sorry for her because the dog was just not listening to her. I know how that feels (I too have had a teenage dog). It so happened that my dog had chosen that particular day to behave like an angel and I think that made the woman even more cross with the dog.

As we got close she gave the dog a nasty slap across its rear. I was very polite to her and just said, please don't hit your dog. She told me she didn't know what to do with him as she's couldn't get him to do anything she wanted - she looked as if she was almost in tears. We ended up having quite a long chat and I gave her the name of my dog classes. Hope she made use of the classes as the woman who ran them was very good.

It upset me seeing her hitting her dog but I don't think she was generally nasty to it, just that she'd reached the end of her tether. I felt able to say something to her because she was a woman of a similar age to me. If she's had been some great big rough looking bloke I'm not sure I would have been so brave I'm ashamed to say.

cakedup Fri 02-Sep-16 23:39:46

I could be wrong but this family didn't look particularly approachable. I guess I'm inclined to think, if they think it's ok to do in the first place (and regularly - not jut snapping in the heat of the moment) then a) they are not going to think otherwise and b) they're not particularly the kind of people I want to approach.

If I'd been a dog owner myself then I'd feel a bit more qualified to say something, as in the instance of pigsDOfly .

I know I shouldn't really compare, but smacking the face seems so much worse than smacking the behind. Perhaps though it's because I have cats who actually love being patted on their behind (quite firmly too!).

I just assume people who buy dogs are dog-lovers....so why would you then feel comfortable with smacking them? It was the way it was done as well...not in a controlled 'discipline' type of way (not that it would make it right) but the woman was shouting at the dog using a nasty tone of voice. It sounded like she hated him sad

At one point the man was doing a rough play thing with him, almost encouraging him to get excited. I was quite confused at this point, but again, I don't know very much about dogs. The dog was growling/biting in what seemed like in a playful way but to me it looked as though it could go wrong at any moment. Then after a few minutes, when the man had had enough, he shouted at the dog and yanked at his collar hard for him to stop. So what's that about? Isn't it sending mixed messages to the dog?

pigsDOfly Sat 03-Sep-16 13:49:33

Before I got my dog Cakedup I was of the opinion that a lot of people who get dogs do so because they like to have something to master and push around.

I now know that fortunately, the majority of dog owners don't feel like that about their dogs and love them with an open heart.

There are certainly a frightening number of people who get animal with what seems the sole intention of mistreating them and making their lives hell.

However, some people I'm afraid, and it sound like the family you saw probably come into that category, seem to think it's okay to treat an animal with a kind of low level cruelty and would probably be quite surprised - but probably wouldn't care - to think that most decent people would see it as an unacceptable way to treat any living creature.

Unfortunately, trying to reason with people like that is probably just going to put you in a vulnerable position, possibly get you a mouthful of abuse and have no effect at all on the way they treat their animals.

Don't feel bad that you didn't do anything, sometimes stepping in is not the most sensible thing to do, especially if you're a woman on her own.

ayeokthen Sat 03-Sep-16 13:54:38

Our dog is a rescue who has clearly been hit before, despite years of loving contact she still cringes if people move too quickly around her. That and if someone shakes out a bin bag she freaks out. I hate seeing it, she's a gentle wee soul, and we've spent years teaching her that people won't hurt her, but whatever happened when she was a pup must have stuck in her wee mind so badly nothing will change it.

chough Sat 03-Sep-16 14:01:19

ayeokthen, our rescue was like that, but he's been with us now for over 6 years and seems confident now.
When we first got him, DH came home from the park upset, as he'd taken off his shoe to shake a stone out, and as he lifted the shoe up, the dog threw himself onto the ground, cowering in fear.
Ddog was 5 when he came to us, and we so wish he could have been with us sooner.

BertieBotts Sat 03-Sep-16 14:12:27

It's totally sending mixed messages sad Poor dog, how is it supposed to understand what behaviour is expected of it?

I think some dog owners don't really think about the fact that a dog has a mind, can learn and figure things out. They just think they are big interactive fluffy teddybears to do what they want with. No empathy for how the dog might be feeling or understanding of how they might think. And that's very dangerous - both unpleasant for the dog and dangerous because the dog could snap at any time.

Branleuse Sat 03-Sep-16 14:16:42

Theyre trying to train their pup to not jump up or steal food or lick people. It might not be the ideal way to do it, but seriously its like dog owners cant fucking win sometimes. You cant exactly sit your dog down and explain to it why it mustnt do that. Positive reinforcement is better than negative reinforcement for sure, but its not uncommon to use a mixture of the two

ayeokthen Sat 03-Sep-16 14:51:41

Chough I'm glad your dog is showing improvement, it's so sad when they're afraid. We've had ours for 4 years and she was about a year old when we got her. She'd been in a right state when she was found, but she's doing ok. I keep her away if the house is busy as she can't cope with it, and we all know not to make sudden movements or change the bin if she's in the room.

pigsDOfly Sat 03-Sep-16 17:51:21

Of course you can't sit your dog down and explain things to it Branleuse but neither can you get it to understand your thinking when you smack it across the head after it's done something you don't like.

Most dogs like food. With most dog's all it takes is to guide the dog to the behaviour you want and reward it with something tasty when you get the desired behaviour. Most dogs will think they're on to a good thing if just sitting their bum on the ground, for example, gets them something like a piece of cheese.

It's easy, straight forward and no one needs to have their face slapped to achieve the desired result.

Positive reinforcement probably requires more patience than teaching an animal that if it doesn't do what you want you're going to hurt it, but I want my dog to know that it can trust me to treat it kindly whatever the circumstances.

cakedup Sat 03-Sep-16 23:28:48

pigsDOfly I think that's pretty ironic given how much care a dog needs. With walks and feeding alone, that's a lot of work you have to do to keep a dog in order for you to master it! I love animals, but would never consider keeping a dog because of how much looking after they need.

I'm so glad your dogs now have loving homes ayeokthen and chough. I am against animal cruelty in all forms, but dogs are so especially loyal that I don't understand how anyone could have the heart to mistreat them.

Branleuse you can't explain anything to babies either so should we smack them everytime they do something they don't like as well?

Branleuse Sun 04-Sep-16 10:27:21

tbf babies dont tend to leap up at peoples faces and bite them or steal food out of your hands, and very little is expected of babies.
If you read most threads about dogs on MN in general, youll see how intolerant people are of dogs. Dogs are not babies. If a dog tried to steal my food I would be much more likely to lightly slap it out of the way and shout no, than any other training method that youd use the majority of the time. Not many things more annoying in a dog than to pester you for food or try and steal it, and I wish more owners would take that seriously.
I didnt see the people that you saw though, and if it disturbed you, then it probably was excessive, but you say youve never had dogs, so maybe youre unrealistic about it?

pigsDOfly Sun 04-Sep-16 13:44:57

Cakeup I don't really understand the point you're making to me. Are you saying that no one gets a dog and then ill treats it? Because sadly that's not the case, it happens all the time.

I very much doubt that the sort of people who do ill treat a dog would spend, as I have done, the time required to train and care for a it. Yes, a healthy happy dog does required a lot of time, training, walking and care and it's an ongoing commitment.

People who ill treat animal, and unfortunately there are thousands of them, don't tend spend much time training, walking and caring for their dogs, or even feeding them in some cases.

pigsDOfly Sun 04-Sep-16 13:49:37

Or maybe you misunderstood my remark about thinking people got dogs in order to master them. I wasn't saying that's why I got my dog. It was a view I had of some dog owners, and tbh my view of some dog owners hasn't changed.

I would never want 'master' any animal, it's not in my nature. My dog has been well trained through reward based positive methods.

BertieBotts Sun 04-Sep-16 14:07:57

The problem aside from the smacking is encouraging a behaviour one minute and harshly correcting it the next. How is the dog supposed to understand that it's OK one minute because the human is happy and not the next because the human is bored. Dogs are intelligent, but they aren't mind readers. Being consistent or teaching the dog cues for when different behaviours are required seems kinder to the dog.

That is what I meant, not that all dog owners should train their dogs perfectly all the time. Hence the comment about thinking dogs are just interactive toys.

cakedup Tue 06-Sep-16 23:23:12

Sorry pigsDOfly I was SUPER tired when writing that post and waffling a bit. I wasn't contradicting/disagreeing with you. It was a bit of silly observation really so I won't try and explain it!!

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