I've been working on a book since the Rocco Case in Somerville last November, which is why I've been M.I.A. on this blog for so long. I wanted to do something to prevent that from ever happening again.
Will this book change every single person's habits with dogs in the city? No. But this book is designed to be a companion piece to training. It won't teach you how to get your dog to sit, come or stop rolling in gross stuff. It will get you to think about the things urban dogs go through on a daily basis when they live in a city, professionals you need in your corner (what is a "behaviorist vs. trainer"), and how to find reliable resources in your community. Many of the chapters are expanded versions of past blog posts.
Yes, this is a more global book, in that all dogs and owners can benefit from Considerations, but it pays particular attention to the dogs in our urban centers, where they are coming from, what our students are seeing, and what vets/behaviorists/trainers/other dog owners are seeing in our back (concrete) yard.
Here is a blurb from Chapter 7 (He's Friendly!)
Yes, I really wanted a dog who loved other dogs. I envisioned a life of going to the dog park, and off-leash hiking. I wanted to take her to doggy daycare and drop her off to play with other dog friends while I traveled - but that’s not the dog that I ended up with. I couldn’t make her love other dogs no more than my parents could make me love spiders, but I was able to get her to tolerate living around other dogs with very particular parameters. One of those parameters was that she was afforded just a little bit of space that wasn’t infringed upon by other dogs. Even friendly ones. Sadie wasn’t, and isn’t, the only dog in the city that has an owner working incredibly hard to give just a little bit of space. It’s really hard for dog owners, dog lovers, to say “no, please, stay away!” I find that this is one of the more challenging parts to owning a dog who needs space in a city of friendly dogs. People think they did something wrong because their dog is different and their dog needs space unlike the other dogs in the fields, parks, and hiking trails. People hate to say “no- stay away” because as much as the dog needs space, these are dog-loving people who love other dog-loving people. It’s hard to turn your back on your “tribe”.
I found the only thing that worked to give Sadie her personal-space-bubble was to stand my ground, and firmly state “Not Friendly!” to every oncoming dog owner. I used to feel terrible for saying it- like I was proclaiming on a mountain top that I had a bad dog, which I emphatically did not. Once I realized that Sadie wasn’t alone, and that she was a wonderful dog who happened to need a little space, like thousands of dogs in the Metro-Boston region, I stopped feeling guilty. Wavering, or saying “she’s sort of friendly but doesn’t like black dogs, or men with hats….” doesn’t work because if there is any wiggle room, well-intentioned dog owners will take it upon themselves to suggest that their dog is the exception to the rule. To be fair, I live in Boston and subtlety is not a Boston thing. However, the most important factor to her safety was that she was given 8’ of space (the length of her leash plus my arm), and that I remained her advocate, always.
Considerations for the City Dog, Chapter 7: "He's Friendly"