How to Handle Others Disciplining Your Dog

 Sad puppy eyes
Lily and Arliss have one job. They take their job to heart and do it well. When someone comes close to our property, they let us know. From the backyard, Lily and Arliss have a view of the front. They know our friends, neighbors, and the mail delivery persons. If others approach, they bark, we investigate, and job well-done.
The other day, I caught a stranger in our driveway screaming, “Shut up!”
I glared.
She yelled, “They’re barking at me.”
I said, “Good. That means they’re doing their job.”
She walked on down the road. How dare she?
I have a friend who used to rap my dogs on the nose for not sitting long enough. No way, Jose. Not cool. I am never okay with hitting.
Despite working with our dogs to stop jumping on people, they do it. Often visitors say things like, “It’s okay. I don’t mind,” and then pet them. Yikes.
If you have a dog, you’ve likely felt the pain of people telling your dog how to behave and/or disciplining them. You may have also dealt with someone unraveling your good training by encouraging bad behavior. I find that often, people don’t respect boundaries when it comes to other peoples’ dogs. What do you do about it? At what point do you throw diplomacy out and ask, “How dare you?”
This is a tough one, and there are a lot of opinions about it. Here’s my advice:
Educate would-be disciplinarians that this is your dog, not theirs. You decide how and when to correct your dog for certain behavior. If you feel like it, explain why you prefer to do things a certain way.
If you have a large group, consider removing your dog from the party. This will eliminate risk that someone will treat your dog in a way in which you disapprove. It also reduces your stress from constantly watching and worrying.
If you witness any degree of abuse, at least in my book, it’s time to remove the person. If for some reason you can’t remove the person, remove the dog. Speak up, and let the person know you won’t tolerate that business.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, visitors can be too polite. If your dog gets in a lick or a jump, tell your guest you’re trying to teach your dog to act differently. Take the pressure off your guest by asking them to correct the dog in keeping with your training.
If someone else’s dog is misbehaving, call attention to it. Ask the person how you should handle it. Are there particular commands they prefer you to use (off or down, stop or quit, leave it)? Some people let their dogs on the furniture. Others don’t. If you don’t know, ask. Be respectful and mindful, as you’d expect of others.
Always remember that your dog’s behavior is your responsibility. If he’s behaving badly towards others, it’s up to you to correct that behavior.