Before I had Indy and when I was living on Mariner’s Ridge, I would take Sunny to the Hawaii Kai dog park just about every afternoon.
This was my daily ritual, a way to socialize her while getting her outdoors and running around.
But my dog picked up a bad habit: she started to bark. And not just random squawking, either. She barked and yelped at certain dogs on the other side of the fence in an attempt to get these larger dogs to run with her. And most of them did. But the barking didn’t go unnoticed by some dog owners who, well, didn’t approve of her very normal dog behavior.
I overheard one dog owner complain to another: “Oh, there goes that dog again. Always barking.”
My dog park friends and I would talk about this all the time: do people judge us by our dog’s behavior? And do we look at badly behaving pooches and think, “Hmm. Bad dog. Bad owner”?
I had read on Cesar Millan’s blog, Cesar’s Way, that yes, the way your dog behaves is a reflection of what type of person other people view you as.
“Studies show that when a stranger comes across your pup, he or she will recognize certain behaviors in your dog, which they will link up to you. Many times, the assumptions people make about you based on your dog’s behavior are unconscious biases that we should all be aware of.”
That’s scary to me.
I have two dogs, both of whom had very different personalities. (Does this mean I’m schizophrenic…?) Sunny isn’t as energetic and hyper as Indy. And she’s friendlier to other dogs, as long as they’re not twice her size. Indy is more protective and jealous. He’s selfish and hates sharing. Sunny likes to be left alone. Indy is a snuggler and loves attention. And he loves to play. He can play all day, while Sunny prefers to find a quiet spot in the house and nap.
So what does this say about me?
I’m sure parents have the same fears about their kids, that people are judging them based on the way their kids behave. But that’s a DNA issue. I don’t share genes with my dogs. I really shouldn’t be compared to them.
So what do you think? Do you judge dog owners by way their dogs act? And dog owners, do you worry people are judging you? Because they are!