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  #41  
Old 31.01.2020, 14:38
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Re: Dog Socialization a Real Problem in (Central?) Switzerland

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Socialisation means having a well rounded, confident dog who is able to cope in different circumstances. It is all too easy to over socialise a dog and flood them with too many different experiences, in which case you can end up with a fear aggressive dog...

We have building works just past our house and have to walk within feet of it. Drilling, banging, cement mixers, men carrying planks of wood was very scary for Axel and he reacted by barking and jumping in the air when we went past. I went alone and spoke to the men and explained that he wasn't aggressive but frightened and they were very considerate in helping me get over his fear...

That is socialisation although I am sure if OP had seen his first reaction he would have decided he was an aggressive dog and me an unethical owner. If I hadn't spoken with the builders they would have been scared of him.
I think you did a good job with your dog's reaction to the construction, and that is commendable. Nice job.

Nevertheless, I disagree with your suggestion that it is easy to over socialize a dog. The over-arching problem, as stated in the article you agreed was a good read, is that not enough socialization is occurring. If you tell people they need to be seriously worried about over socializing their dog, you may make them nervous and thus they won't pursue enough socialization. Now the best approach would of course be to do lots of research, consult with experts, and observe how your dog is doing and adjust accordingly. I'm not saying you can't over socialize dog, but that is not the primary problem.

Now your suggestion that I would judge any individual owner based on a single encounter with a dog without any context isn't true, and I've already tried to make that clear. (Not to mention my dog is scared of very loud noises, so I'd be a complete hypocrite to assume another dog scared of loud noises has major behavioral issues). This is now multiple times you have taken what I consider a cheap shot at me and accused me of doing or believing something that I do not. I would appreciate it if you would respond to the points I make and not presume to know things about me. In fact, one of our best dog friends has a dog who doesn't always get along with other dogs. When we have our dogs off-leash and another off-leash dog approaches, my friends will often call their dog to them and I will let my dog say "hi" (assuming the other owner doesn't recall their dog or otherwise indicate a greeting is not desired). So I'm quite aware and understanding of the fact that individual situations are unique and dynamic.
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  #42  
Old 25.02.2020, 14:53
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Re: Dog Socialization a Real Problem in (Central?) Switzerland

After 15yrs of dog ownership in CH our experience has been:
  • Nearly all dogs are on leads, dogs off leads are a rarity
  • Most owners have little understanding of how dogs behave and interact
  • Common reactions are to shout and scream at people from a distance (on average their dog just became terrified of what will happen next)
  • Dogs playing together or socialising is practically non-existent
  • There's no culture of walking your dog every day, most dogs get walked on occasion, for many that means once a week at best
  • The practice of having your dog straining on the lead aggressively to get to another dog only makes things worse for the owner and the dog

We walk our dogs in multiple countries through the year, some times as many as 6 or 7 countries and we are amazed at the difference in attitudes towards dogs, only in CH do we encounter such a dog delinquent mentality.

We will likely either not buy another dog or move country in order to regain our full doggy enjoyment.

The only people we tend to find have a reasonable approach to dogs are the farm owners/workers and horsey people, they seem much more relaxed and have a good understanding of animal behaviour.

Role on the next trip outside of canine unfriendly CH with the woofers where we can all enjoy ourselves !
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  #43  
Old 25.02.2020, 15:51
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Re: Dog Socialization a Real Problem in (Central?) Switzerland

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After 15yrs of dog ownership in CH our experience has been:
  • Nearly all dogs are on leads, dogs off leads are a rarity
  • Most owners have little understanding of how dogs behave and interact
  • Common reactions are to shout and scream at people from a distance (on average their dog just became terrified of what will happen next)
  • Dogs playing together or socialising is practically non-existent
  • There's no culture of walking your dog every day, most dogs get walked on occasion, for many that means once a week at best
  • The practice of having your dog straining on the lead aggressively to get to another dog only makes things worse for the owner and the dog

We walk our dogs in multiple countries through the year, some times as many as 6 or 7 countries and we are amazed at the difference in attitudes towards dogs, only in CH do we encounter such a dog delinquent mentality.

We will likely either not buy another dog or move country in order to regain our full doggy enjoyment.

The only people we tend to find have a reasonable approach to dogs are the farm owners/workers and horsey people, they seem much more relaxed and have a good understanding of animal behaviour.

Role on the next trip outside of canine unfriendly CH with the woofers where we can all enjoy ourselves !
WOW, talk about some generalization! In my 8 years of owning a dog in CH, I have almost only experienced positive things and find CH an extremely dog friendly country.
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  #44  
Old 25.02.2020, 18:19
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Re: Dog Socialization a Real Problem in (Central?) Switzerland

Ridgeway, I would guess that I live among a very different dog owner community than you do.

I live in SZ, where the cantonal law is that dogs must be on lead in public. So, I'll grant you that point - in my area dogs do not run off lead in fields or in the forests... because most dog owners follow the law.

However, and probably because of the cantonal restrictions, I see that many dog owners really step up to provide their critters with the physical exercise and mental stimulation they require.

I guess the silver lining in the SZ dog law is that you can't be a lazy owner 'round these parts. You can't just let the dog off lead to amuse himself.

Among the folks I know well, casual acquaintances, and folks who I only know by their doggie's name , here is what I see:

Most who get their dogs as puppies attend Welpenförderung classes, so they have the basics.

Most people who adopt older dogs attend age-appropriate dog beginning training class - they, too, have the basics.

Many of the above go on to further classes, and many dog owners attend a Familienhunde type training/activity throughout the dogs' entire lives. Some attend several classes per week.

A good number of owners get involved in one of the dog sports, most of those just for fun and 'brain training' for their dogs.

Because our dogs can't run riot off lead through the farmer's fields, we organize our dogs' socialization. Most do so either via a Hundeverein or Hundeschule, or privately with like-minded friends, on our private properties. It should be no surprise that doggy socialization, like everything Swiss, is organized.

Are there irresponsible owners? Scofflaws who let their dogs off lead where forbidden? People who don't follow etiquette? People who don't train their dogs? People who don't pick up? Of course there are. There are idiots everywhere. But they, happily, seem to still be in the minority as far as I can see.

I would go so far as to say that with 20+ years here, the standard of responsible ownership and involvement with our dogs is higher than what I experienced back in the Chicagoland area years ago.

--

In my area - again bearing in mind the general leash law - walks are more one-to-one time with the owner, the time is used for brain-training and bonding. Socialization with other dogs happens 'off the trail' so to speak, so that we don't bother the non-dog folks with whom we must share the tiny, overcrowded public spaces.

---

Now it's not all roses and sunshine, not by a long chalk. I deeply regret the abolition of the SKN classes, and have in the few years since seen a deterioration of responsibility. That saddens me greatly, as we dog owners can never forget the dark days post Oberglatt - we are all just one bad incident followed by media hysteria followed by a popular referendum away from losing our four footed friends.

There is always room for improvement. Dog training is a life long fun-filled activity, not one-and-done.

---

Yes, there are many dog-haters here. There are many people here who are afraid of dogs. And a lot who are 'meh' but certainly don't want to come into contact with a dog. Because of that, we do have to manage our interaction with the general public. Here is where you will see more control.

Yes, the anti-dog sentiment has made dog ownership difficult to a degree that I have not experienced elsewhere. But, again a silver lining, it also has made me a better owner, I've certainly upped my game in order to keep the target off my back.

When I move back to my dream 120 acres in the US, I'll have to keep on my toes to keep up to my Swiss standard.

---

Where I see conflict among dog owners is when there is a dog owner who does not understand the local dog etiquette and tries to force interaction, the 'Der macht nix!' 'He just wants to play!' brigade. Unfortunately, this subset of owners tends to believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Can you see why many owners would avoid these types?

You really do have to think of doggy socialization the same way you'd approach breaking into a Swiss social circle -because it's actually is the same thing. Most people in this culture, dog owners included, are hesitant to interact socially with strangers. You have to get to know people first, greet politely when you first encounter someone, follow the 'recall, control, ask, then play if agreed' etiquette. Let an aquaintanceship develop naturally - among the people and dogs.

---

If I have learned anything in all my decades of dog ownership it is that there are many ways to give a dog a good life. You simply have to adapt to the norms of the culture you are in - and invest a good deal of yourself in making it happen. We have to get creative in figuring out how to meet our dogs needs given the structure of Swiss society.

And if I've learned anything in 20+ years in Switzerland, it's YMMV. We all experience aspects of Switzerland differently, depending on local attitudes and norms.

It's a shame that you have run into bad experiences here. Turning this around - because the only behavior and attitudes you can control are your own - what do you think you could do differntly to better fit in with local dog owners? Or where do you think you might find like minded people to socialize your dogs with? Do you belong to a Hundeverein or Hundeschule?

---

Dona nobis pacem.
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  #45  
Old 25.02.2020, 18:58
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Re: Dog Socialization a Real Problem in (Central?) Switzerland

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OK, Lots to unpack here... let's start with the easy stuff first:



Unless you are willing to donate the land and many millions to your Gemeinde to fund such a project the chance of this happening is, well, the words snowball and hell come to mind.

You have to understand that Switzerland views dogs as a luxury - and the average Swiss taxpayer will not look kindly on requests to fund someone else's luxury hobby. A dog owner is expected to be able to provide for his own dog, out of his own resources.

There is little acceptance of single use public space - largely because there is so little public space to begin with. We all have to share, often with competing needs, safely and respectfully.

Because we dog owners are engaging in a luxury hobby generally not well received by the majority, that often means as a dog owner it is encumbent on me to find a way to fit my usage needs in with the area's majority attitudes, I cannot realistically ask others to accomodate my wishes/needs. We can't forget that the majority has the power to ban dogs from our favorite places altogether.

(Already happened in my area - some years ago dogs were banned altogether from my favorite trail because of complaints about the unwillingness of a few owners to compromise.)

The power imbalance between dog owners and the rest of the population is one reason why you don't see a lot of 'banding together' of dog owners. The vocal majority where I live tend to not like dogs all that much - dog owners here know that the best way to keep our dogs safe is to keep our heads down.

Another example of why there are few dog parks: Some years ago canton SZ cracked down on non-agricultural use of Landwirtschaftszone properties - and I know of at least one dog school forced to close down, have heard rumors of others. They were renting a fallow field, a win-win for the farmer who got a good income and for the community since the dog-friendly space was far out of sight and sound of any residential area. But nope - dogs are not agricultural use, so the dog training ground had to go.

Who knows, you might live in a Hundeparadis of kindred souls and get lucky if you petition your Gemeinde. But do make sure you have your pulse on public attitude first and make sure you understand the finances. Also make sure you understand the liability issues surrounding a public dog park, another significant barrier.

---

So what's a dog owner to do?

1. Identify areas where the prevailing attitude is that off lead dogs are welcome. There have been several threads discussing various places - I know there is one in ZH, perhaps along the Sihl?, but I can't remember what the name is. A quick search should bring up those threads.

2. As is most things in Switzerland, reach into your own pocketbook. Join a Hundeverein or Hundeschule with it's own training ground that offers free running play sessions. This will cost you, but likely not all that much. Investing a few hundreds a year your dog's well being is not much to ask.


---

As to interaction with other dogs:

If you are allowing your dog to approach another without first recalling your dog to heel at your side and without asking the other dog owner's permission, you are part of the problem.

Your dog must be under your control at all times. Unless otherwise signed, or in canton SZ with it's general leash law, voice control is considered fine, but if you chose voice control reliable instant recall is a must. If you have trained your dog to that standard it should not be a bother to take a few seconds to recall and ask. If the other owner says no, walk on to heel, only releasing your dog when you are well clear. If the dog owner says OK, then go ahead and have fun.

There are many reasons why an owner might not want interaction - it's not for you to judge. The dog's owner know what is best for his individual dog; please respect the other dog owner's wishes.

If you want more interaction with other dogs while you are out and about, plan that interaction. (TIS, where everything is planned. ) Why not make arrangements with dog-owning friends and go on walks together?


---

Bottom line:

You know what is right for your own dog. And you are right to seek out what your dog needs.

But you cannot possibly know what is right for anyone else's dog, to think so is presumptious. So just as you know what is right for your dog, you must assume that other owners do for their dogs as well. You must respect their choice, and if their choice does not align with yours then look for your doggy companionship elsewhere, with those who would welcome the interaction.


All the best...
hilarious !!! you said it just right!!! so funny but true1
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