Sorry, this is not a post about the live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” even though I’m super-dee-duper excited about that.
This is a post for the guests, aka anyone who has ever visited a house that wasn’t theirs that had a dog that wasn’t theirs. Guests pop up in training conversations a lot. I don’t have the numbers, but I’m guessing “my dog loses his mind every time the doorbell rings” or “my dog tackles new people like his name is Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane” are some of the more common complaints dog trainers get. However, people don’t just bring up the dogs; they mention the guests, too. I’ve heard it from people in training class, I’ve heard it from friends, and it’s something I’ve experienced firsthand as well. People get embarrassed and frustrated when their dogs act like lunatics (aka normal, excited dogs) at the door, especially if it’s something they’re consciously working on. Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar.
GUEST: *enters stage left*
DOG: *loses marbles*
OWNER: (to dog) “Sit! No! Down! Sit! You Know Better!™” (to guest) “Just completely ignore him until he behaves.”
DOG: *ignores owner like they are a sketchy hobo on a nighttime highway*
GUEST: *petting dog and making kissy noises* “It’s fine! I don’t mind, he’s just excited!”
If I had to guess, people respond this way for one of two reasons: They don’t want to appear high-maintenance so they act like getting jumped and slobbered on by an 80-pound dog is a normal, cool, totally-fine thing, or they don’t feel comfortable telling your dog what to do even if it’s basic and reasonable, kind of like how I feel with kids.
“I don’t mind,” is the most common refrain.
Here’s the thing: we mind.
We mind because we would much rather be greeted by a dog who has all four feet on the ground and isn’t barking his face off, and we know, despite what you say, that you would too. We mind because even if you, a strapping 20-something dude, doesn’t get taken out by our dog, our grandma, whose skin is thinner than her nylons, is going to get taken out. We mind because we have other friends who aren’t super comfortable with dogs, and we’d like them to feel comfortable visiting us.
The bottom line is, we appreciate your efforts to be that really chill person who loves dogs, but you are not required to enjoy being charged down by my meathead pit bull. It’s really nice of you to respect my relationship with my dog and not bust in my house with the intention of “showing him who’s boss,” but you’re being more respectful when you follow my instructions. When you give my dog the attention he wants while he’s acting like a fool, you’re making it that much harder for me to break the habit. Even if you do genuinely love dogs and the jumping isn’t a huge deal to you, wouldn’t it be nicer if you didn’t have to wade through my entryway like Channing Tatum through a bachelorette party?
All joking aside, if you are friends with someone who has one or more obnoxious dogs, thanks for putting up with us. Thanks for coming over even if you do get tackled, or your shoes get stolen, or you have to eat your pizza standing up. We appreciate you.