I took my son to the playground today. Whilst I was there, there was a woman with a small terrier type which was clearly very reactive to dogs.
She was stood on the pavement by the playground as a woman with 3 large dogs walked past.
These ladies clearly knew each other. So the lady with the three dogs stood chatting to the lady as her reactive dog barked and lunged and showed it's teeth and tried everything it could to tell the dogs to go away.
They were on leads too. And both their owners stood chatting for about 5 minutes while the 3 dogs stood and the little dog barked.
What did that little dog learn in that 5 minutes?
That no matter how clear he tries to make it that he is frightened or frustrated or angry or sad, that his mum doesn't understand, doesn't listen and doesn't care.
The trust will have worn away that little bit more.
What did those three dogs learn?
That their person doesn't care if they are being shouted at.
That little dogs are scary. That their feelings don't matter.
Small enough that the world seems bigger and scarier and they may need that little bit extra protection. Small enough that he may have felt he needed to make himself look that little bit scarier so that the big dogs didn't come over.
If the same reaction was coming from a dog 5x it's size, would his owner have stood there? Would the lady have stopped?
A small voice should be listened too just as much as a big voice.
A small voice is still a voice.
Written by Bonny Dog Behavior @bonnydogbehaviour