There have been so many blog posts about this same topic from so many wonderful trainers and bloggers like this one from the Dogsnobs. I can't help but think, however, that the subject bears repeating. Dogs are becoming such a large part of society, that it's important we understand a little more of dog behavior, and be good stewards of these wonderful beasts in our charge. Let's start with one startling piece of information; not everyone likes your dogs! Shocking, I know!
We think it's cute when that 4 pound ball of fur jumps up on us demanding our attention. Or when the puppy runs up and begins licking a strange dog's face. Choruses of "Isn't he cute" follow this mannerless blob every where it goes. It seems to be part of the "kinder gentler" generation where we don't correct our children for bad behavior, so why should we correct our dogs? They are, after all, our children, right? They are just kids that walk on 4 legs instead of 2. No, this isn't cute, or funny, or desirable in any way. It is rude, whether it is your 2 legged child, or your 3 legged pet.
Dogs are social animals, and require rules. As their human, it is our responsibility to understand their needs and to take care of them. Part of that responsibility is to teach them manners. Yep, that's right, we must TRAIN our dogs.
Dogs need someone to teach them right from wrong. In the wild, the pack leader would make sure a dog knew that lunging and jumping in another dog's face is unacceptable. If we, as humans, fail to teach the dog the same thing, we are only creating rude little furry jerks on 4 legs. We are also setting the dog up to fail. One of these days, that crazy "friendly" little ball of fur is going to jump in the face of a dog that has had enough, and will teach the dog a lesson- the hard way. Unfortunately, when this happens, the finger pointing begins, and it is pointed everywhere but where it should be...on the owner of the rude dog.
If you were walking down the street minding your own business and someone jumped out from behind a parked car and began to molest you, the law would be with you if you decided to *correct* this individual for invading your personal space. Sadly, our dogs are not offered that same benefit. As a dog owner, I find it necessary more and more often to protect my dog from other's nasty little beasties. On any given agility weekend, I will have to place myself between my dog and an unruly mongrel at least twice. Of course, when I protest, I am berated as having "an aggressive dog." No ma'am, my dog is not aggressive, he's just sick and tired of being molested by dogs like yours.
Bottom line, train your dogs. If your dog learns to behave in public, then your dog will be happy, as well as the dogs around you. A happy dog is a healthy dog.