i went for a walk this morning, and, as i usually do, i brought along a little bag of dog treats, because i don’t want to have dogs barking at me, early in the morning, and i’ve discovered that if they’re distracted by food, they usually don’t bark.
i came around the corner and met one such dog, who was behind a fence. he barked until he realised that i was passing out treats, whereupon his entire demeanor changed, and he couldn’t wait to be my friend. i gave him a treat and headed down the street, where i met a guy who was walking the other way. he asked if i walked that way regularly, to which i responded in the affirmative. he then went into this rant about this “evil dog at the corner”, who barked at him when he was walking by. he said that he was afraid of being bitten, which is why he carried mace with him, which he showed me.
i told him to look at it from the dog’s point of view: here is a strange man (guaranteed to be a person who gets barked at anyway), who responds to my presence by making sharp, barking noises, himself and adopts a defensive posture… he’s bound to be up to no good, so of course i’m going to bite him. mace just makes matters worse, i told him: you may not get bitten (you probably will, regardless), but the next time the dog sees you, he’s definitely not going to be happy, and things will probably get worse from there.
on the other hand, i said, my approach is completely the opposite: here is a similar, strange man, who makes cooing and clucking noises, gets down on my level, and offers me treats… i’m definitely going to be suspicious, and maybe i’ll bark once or twice, but i’m probably not going to bite, and if i see him again, i’ll be a lot more interested in being his friend.
the guy looked at me as though i was crazy, and went on his way towards the dog, who i could hear barking loudly as i wandered down the street in the opposite direction…
moe’s right: most dogs are better than most people… 😐