Know Thy Dog

27 May

We have a confession.  Are you ready?  Sure?

Our dogs aren’t perfect*.

Shocked?  Despite being Dog Snobs, our dogs have their foibles.  What stops us from being Dog Hypocrites though, is that we are well-aware of these issues and do our best to manage them.

Training and management are key for pretty much everything dog-related. Is your dog an asshole around other dogs?  Doesn’t like being in tight spaces like elevators?  Wants to eat kids? Hates skateboards?  That’s cool….as long as you don’t sit back on your laurels and let them act a fool.  Training can work wonders, but can only go so far so fast.  Until you have a handle on your dog’s issues, manage the shit out of them.  Putting your dog into situations that you know they are an asshole just makes you an even bigger asshole.


The first step, like most things, is acknowledging you have a problem.  We know that you love your baby fluffy-kins more than cheese and crackers, but not being willing to admit that they can be an asshole in certain situations doesn’t do anyone any favors.  Your dog can still be your favorite thing in the entire world…and still be a jerkface at times.

Once you’ve acknowledged that your dog is not in fact the Mother Theresa of the canine world, the next step is coming up with a plan.  Pro tip:  Hoping it just goes away is not a plan.


Sometimes this plan may involve simply paying better attention to your surroundings or advocating for your dog, but sometimes it might actually take some lifestyle adjustments.  These changes can range from changing the time of day you go on walks to avoid triggers, muzzle-training your dog, or accepting that you will have to take the stairs instead of the elevators because your dog turns into Cujo in tight spaces.  Trust us, people will judge you far less if you have to occasionally dive head-first  into a bush to avoid other dogs on a walk than if you let your dog release the kraken on every single dog who passes by as you stand by and twiddle your thumbs.

We get that having a dog who is an asshole can be a work in progress and that sometimes there are slip-ups, but intentionally having your head so far up your own ass that you don’t even admit that your dog is an asshole, well…that’s just shitty.


*not perfect, but pretty darn close!

12 Responses to “Know Thy Dog”

  1. Rosie May 28, 2015 at 2:15 am #

    I DO know my dogs’ triggers, and do everything possible to avoid them. But even worse are the people who get all annoyed with me when I say, “excuse me, can I have some room to get by?” or, “would you mind backing off your (yapping, snarling) little dog–my dog is about to eat them” For Pete’s sake, I’m asking nicely so we don’t have an issue, and you’re taking issue with that? Geez.

    • ellen764 May 29, 2015 at 9:59 am #

      I know what you mean. Rosie. I asked someone if I could get through, and she was afraid to be next to me on a stay line because she thought that meant I didn’t trust my own dog enough to not bite her dog’s head off.

  2. Assegai Rhodesian Ridgebacks May 28, 2015 at 2:29 am #

    All my dogs are assholes in their own unique ways. Some are bigger assholes than others, one or two are only assholes on rare occasions…but I do my very best to keep their assholeness in check so that it doesn’t impact the lives or enjoyment of others…

  3. Anni May 28, 2015 at 6:36 am #

    From my perspective I manage my dogs’ behaviours.. good and bad. Some owners are completely ignorant of their dogs’ bad behaviour.. They’re the ones beyond hope as no change will occur. However the owners who are aware of their dogs’ issues and are doing something about it are to be given credit. I’m the first to admit my mistakes when it comes to handling dogs, and I learn from each dog I work with, but there are some who think their dogs’ behaviour is a direct reflection on them as a person. This starts to blur the dog / human characteristics line.. The belief that dogs’ emotions are the same as humans, which they are not. Then there’s the owners who refuse to acknowledge certain behaviours because of their negative associations.. Nervous aggression being an example. It’s a common issue yet owners dislike the term so use other descriptors.. Just admit he dog’s got a freakin problem!

  4. amandamortonart May 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    My dog can be aggressive to dogs she doesn’t know. There is a field here people take their dogs to run. Because I know how she reacts, we never take her there unless she’s the only dog and if someone come when we are there I immediately leash her and we leave or move to a safe distance. The other day a lady came out with her dog, let the dog out of her vehicle and it immediately ran the 500 yard distance to my dog and charged her…instant dog fight. The other dog retreated to it’s owner. She loaded her dog into her car and drove off. I found out later (after a visit from a sheriff deputy) she reported my dog as vicious!

  5. applebear76 May 28, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    When I got my dog, he was a true asshole…I’m pretty sure he shot out his mom latching on with teeth. I got him at 8 weeks and he hated people, plain and simple…if he could of killed you and did a pee dance on your body after, that would have made his day. I worked my butt off on counter conditioning, and 2 years later….he’s not too bad of a guy. Not perfect, still have to manage some times and yeah, I don’t put him in any situation I’m not pretty confident.

    The biggest concern for me in these cases is people just getting another dog added to that BSL list. Going to own any dog, but especially one with a high profile, get your head out of your toosh and do your homework. I get tired of watching friends and families dogs bad behavior and the owner giggling behind them. Dogs get killed for that behavior. No, hitting them when they take it too far doesn’t fix the problem either.

    Get off your lazy ass, do the work and believe me…you WILL get a better dog, one you don’t have to giggle at in embarrassment or hide behind closed doors, locking in the bathroom to keep people safe [but yeah, lock them in bathroom over giggling…none of the “this is my home, if you don’t like to be bit, too bad” stuff]. My dog was a major dick, now he can greet and make friends in most cases and you bet your last dollar I know which ones I have to get on top of and manage and/or not risk.

    Stop ruining it for the rest of us…laws are getting stupid, and can’t figure it out for themselves it IS the people that are the problem and NOT the dog.

    • Squiggle October 24, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

      Are you me? Do you have my dog? :p if so, we deserve lots of beer.

  6. Eric James D May 28, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

    Hi, my name is Eric, and I am the owner of an occasional asshole dog.

    Thankfully not the aggressive kind of asshole dog though… it’s more a complete lack of impulse control and dog social manners. He’s a mutt of the lab/beagle variety (maybe some spitz type in there too, he has a curly tail which doesn’t fit with either the lab nor the beagle) so his assholery is mostly borne out of thinking everyone is his best friend and wanting to chase small game/cats like a 30 pound hair missile. He also likes to vocalize at passing runners, bikers, skateboarders, etc., and anyone who has the gall to walk past our yard when he’s outside. I am fully aware of his limitations in this regard and therefore don’t put him in situations where he is likely to startle nervous dogs or chase after the neighbors’ cat at 40 miles an hour (not kidding, he’s the fastest dog I’ve ever seen outside of a racetrack). The yard was fenced when we bought the house, so he can’t get into too much trouble there, and I don’t leave him out by himself for anything longer than running inside to grab something.

    Because of his lack of leash manners (getting SO much better but still needs work) I do my best to walk him early in the morning and later at night to avoid other dogs and the above mentioned moving things. I walk him with a well padded harness, not one of those crazy webbing contraptions, with the lead attached to the back so if need be he can be picked up (gently) by the harness for a quick couple of seconds. It’s blue, and therefore makes him look like the cow being lowered into the raptor pit in Jurassic Park which is vastly entertaining. The downside of those walking times is that he’s more likely to spot one of those automatic tennis balls with the flesh and bone flavored squeakers and lose his little doggy mind. I’ll take attempting to chase small game over strange looks about my dog barking like mad at passing children on scooters any day. Either way though, there’s only so much trouble he can get into with a maximum radius of six feet. I share your opinions on flexis and am so tired of seeing cockadoodlewhateverpoos a block before I see their owners.

    It’s strange that he’s such an asshole on leash and in our yard, because when we go to the dog park he spends his first 10 minutes or so sniffing and marking, doesn’t really give the other dogs the time of day, aside from a cursory butt sniff, until I move up a little further from the entrance and call him to me. There’s probably a perfectly reasonable explanation of dog psychology for that one, but to me (fairly new at the whole dog thing) it’s a strange contrast between wanting to interact with every dog EVER on walks, and not caring much about them in the dog park.

    I spite of his assholery he does play very well with other dogs. He’s all play bows and appropriate antics. On the rare occasions he does run into a less than interested dog at the dog park he leaves them alone and doesn’t antagonize.

    • Paul June 3, 2015 at 3:30 am #

      I know my Soph’s triggers, virtually everything. People paranoid, dog aggressive and she kills squirrels and cats. Do I let her near anything she could potentially destroy? No I do not. That’s being a responsible dog owner. My boy dog has an intense hatred of male strangers. Same thing…I keep us at a distance so the stranger can keep a wide distance from us. For the dim bulbs I’ll pull my boy close and looking at me until they pass.

  7. RowanVT June 19, 2015 at 7:21 am #

    My last dog was quite the asshole at the dog park. It was okay for a while when all he wanted to do was chase a kicked tennis ball, but then he discovered that there were *other dogs* at the park. His new favorite game became going to up to every… single… dog and bumping into them to see if it pissed them off. If they ignored him, he left them alone. But when he finally found a dog that didn’t care for being bashed he would then spend the rest of the time we were there harassing that one dog. He got progressively worse even with me trying to distract him with balls and watching him like a hawk so I did what needed to be done. No more dog park. My dog was being a royal turdface, so his chase-the-ball time went away.

  8. linvo July 25, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    My dog was just perfect when meeting new dogs for about a year after I adopted her. She actually got antisocial asshole dogs to like her, she was that good. It was one of the reasons why I chose to adopt her.

    And then she began being an asshole to other dogs, quite suddenly. I was quite upset by it. I worried a lot about how it would restrict my life and hers. I felt it must have been because of something I did wrong. So I booked an appointment with a behavioural trainer. Who said lots of stupid stuff. At least until she realised that my dog was actually better trained than hers. And then she said some stuff that helped me to put things into perspective and snapped me out of my “I stuffed up, I’m a bad dog owner, I can’t fix this” mode.

    I decided that my dog just didn’t like strange dogs, for no particular reason. She just thinks they’re all assholes and have no business getting in her face. But because some dogs do think that is totally their business, I didn’t want to just take her out of the social scene completely. So I apply the 3 second rule. Three seconds to sniff the other dog back and then I call her away. I have worked on getting her to keep walking away when the other dog follows and that usually works well, unless the other dog is just a bigger asshole than my dog.

    There’s that and there is her overenthusiastic affection for people other than me. I have to micromanage her in those situations. We both have off days when this doesn’t work perfectly and then we have days when we nail it completely. And in between we manage quite well and we both feel safe and content.


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    […] on both sides (as well as several other dog owners I know) this recent post from The Dog Snobs: Know Thy Dog. Sadly, I highly doubt any of them would appreciate it nearly as much as I […]

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