Let’s do better with our dogs

I was at the vet recently with a dog and waiting our turn, as I sat there, I watched dog after dog come in and of course I watched how people and their dogs interacted and behaved.

I was waiting for blood test results, so I was there about an hour and I counted 15 dogs that came in to see the vets on duty.

Every single dog was dragging the owner along by the leash some to get to the vet, some to get to my dog, some to get back to their car, but all were highly emotional. ?

Owner 1 had a frightened young dog that every time the dog baulked or panicked, would chant “it’s okay it’s okay it’s okay” in a panicked voice also.

Owner 2 has an adolescent German Shepherd that was lunging at other dogs, and barked defensively at the vet when approached. Well, she employed the Donald Trump method “Excuse me! Excuse me! Excuse me! Sit sit sit

And let me tell you, not one sit was to be had.

Owner 3 has a blue cattle dog with the cone of shame on and this dog was hell-bent on attacking every dog it saw, whilst the owner leaned back like a skier on the slopes trying to counter the efforts from his dog.

Owner 4s dog was a panicker, the dog wanted out of there badly whilst the owner wiggled their hand in front of their dog, pretending to have food to lure the dog in.

This dog was NOT in the mindset to eat food.

So, the owner stopped when the dog baulked and waved the (empty) hand at the dog. This went on for literally 3-4 minutes whilst the vet stood by and gave e the owner the chance.

Owner 5 was a snapper. You know the people that snap their fingers and point at their dog when they give a command?

Snap – sit! Snap – sit!!!

Of course, the dog has seen this show before and paid zero attention. It was amusing to see the Snapper’s air of confidence as he stood up straight and gave that sharp finger snap, expecting the dog to jump into line.

Which it never did.

Owner 6 was the super Zen person. I saw them leave the vet’s surgery and head towards their car.

The car was about 20 Meters away.

I swear I stopped watching after 10 minutes. The dog and owner would take 1 step in which the dog would find some interesting odour and stop to sniff.

The owner stopped too and gave lots of free leash.

Once the dog had identified said odour it would take another step and find a new odour.

Zen owner complied with the dog’s every desire to scent scan the car park without once saying, “ok let’s get on with it

Owner 7 was a couple. They had a Rottweiler.

They started with a little domestic in the carpark as the lady made it quite clear that she was not handling the dog

Eventually, the man gave up and puffed out his chest, wrapped several coils of the leash around his hand until the leash was tight between him and the dog and in the came.

The Rotty went for everyone and everything in the surgery whilst the man attempted to hold back the dog whilst the woman shouted instructions to him.

I do not know what the dog was in for, but the dog left without seeing a vet.

Owner 8 the “My dog must have what my dog wants” owner, Entitled Eddie!

Dog drags him into vet surgery as he smiles. His dog strains to get to the first dog it sees, and he gives the dog a little slack in the leash and smiles at the owner saying “It’s ok he is friendly he just wants to say hi

His dog stood over the other dog in a not so nice way then moved on to the next dog that had a snarl at him. The owner saying quite loudly “oh he is not friendly!

And then his dog spots mine.

He beams a smile as his dog rockets at mine he opens his mouth as I give him a stern “no!”

I blocked his dog by grabbing its leash close to the harness and lifting his dog up and handing it back to him.

Guess what. He was offended. I actually wrote more about him here. (click here)

Most of the other dogs I saw seemed to fit into one of more of the above categories.

Guys this is terrible.

Not one dog was able to string together any level of engagement or response from their dogs.

None of the dogs were in any control of their emotions and had to be forced, dragged, carried and pushed into the vet room.

The people were, what clearly appeared to be mature, educated men and women without an ounce of ability to communicate with their dog.

Some had well behaved children with them???? How did that happen?

One lady commented that my dog was so well behaved. I said she is just laying down. It wasn’t a miracle, it was a very basic level of obedience on a dog with effective socialisation.

One of the dog owners had a young dog and he made the excuse that his dog had “young dog energy”, what ever that means. But it was my guess he was waiting for the dog to “grow out of it”

Where ever this people are going for training information, let me give you one piece of advice.


Waving hands with pretend food is a very poor method of communication, it will actually teach your dog to ignore you.

Snapping your fingers worked the first dozen times you did it. It surprised, startled or interested your dog as it was an unknown.

It’s not unknown anymore. You can see that.

Attempting to overpower the dog with the leash creates drive for the behaviour you’re trying to stop.

Here is an example, when we want to develop or increase a dogs drive in bitework, one of the most successful ways of doing this is to HOLD THEM BACK to create more drive.

So consider that, you walk your dog down the street and he or she wants to get to something and you restrain or restrict the dog via leash pressure. Your increasing your dogs desire to get to that thing you don’t want him to get to!!!

Every day dogs drag their owners around by the leash, jump all over them, display aggression to other dogs or people or even their owners and these dog owners just seem to continue along day after day.

It is like you have become desensitised to being ignored, overpowered, told off, dragged to places you don’t want to go, like it’s just how dogs are.

When you see the extreme dogs in our rehab videos, know they are just the dogs from the vet a few more years on.

Nothing big happened, they are not usually poorly bred, they were not abused.


Whilst these owners at the vet surely love their dogs, we’re doing the very best they knew how to do, whomever you are, you can’t be happy with these behaviours.

Now here is something you won’t hear me say often.

The answer is NOT TRAINING.


I really should not need to say effective but I will bet all of the owners at the vets would swear on a stack of bibles that they do train their dogs.

We have to remember that goals need to be set, which helps us design the training program into steps that provide access to the goals.

In all but one or two of those dogs I saw at the vet, my simple simple Life skills program, consistently applied would have made an amazing difference to this vet visit for the dogs and their owners.

Let me share some truths.

Your dog won’t grow out of it.

If you can’t manage the little things like going to a vet, you will never handle the big things.

Food will not fix all in most dogs

It’s not a “phase”

The amount of freedom your dog gets in his or her life is directly proportional to the effectiveness of your training. If that’s not true for you chances are your a person that has a “he’s friendly!” Dog that no one likes. 

I want to help your dog live his or her best life and I can assure you, that doesn’t equal eating too much food and laying on the couch. 

Picture an open grassed field, with a body of water, a rabbit hole here or there, tracks where wildlife has travelled of late, or maybe a beach or river bank.

Your dog running and sniffing, investigating, imagining, searching, exploring and adventuring…

Recalling as soon as you call.

You can’t replace that with a “snifari and licky mat”.

This can be done, with 99.9% of dogs in much less time than you think. Yes even your dog.

We have run just one single lesson with some dog owners, taught them how and when to reward their dogs, how to communicate and motivate and given them written programs specifically for their dogs.

One lesson was all that was needed to go from one of those dogs at the vet to a well mannered, happy dog that was able to access more freedom, more off leash time and be in control of their emotions.

Do others need more? 

Yes of course but know that the sooner you get into this, the easier it is to change.

Other than Entitle Eddie, I really felt sorry for these people and their dogs, it can be so easy to improve so much with just a little “effective training”. 

If your in this situation and need help, reach out we would love to help you. info@k9pro.com.au or 02 45 789 789



About SteveK9Pro

Steve Courtney is a Nationally Accredited Canine Behaviour Specialist, Obedience Trainer, Law Enforcement Dog Trainer and ANKC Breeder. Steve has been training dogs all his life and in these articles he shares with you his experience...

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One comment

  1. Steve you have hit it on the head peoples lack of understanding, it’s a dog on the end of the lead.
    Dogs need food guidance and who’s the leader of its pack.
    Iam glad that dogs don’t have there own WWW internet then we would really be in sh!!! Just kidding
    I was a disappointed that Rottweiler owners acted in the way they did like any dog and or working dog they easily pick up there owners stress levels.
    Being a rottie owner and having a great dog (sometimes) we must remember that they are dogs and we are there to guide them in a human environment

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