Is my dog well-behaved?

Is my dog well-behaved in public?

Summary: This article will help you find out if your dog is well-behaved in public or if he/she is a misbehaving urban canine. It'll also go over some of the most common examples of bad behaviour in city dogs, so you can educate your furry friend to become a good pet citizen.

Have you ever witnessed a parent with a misbehaving child in public? Perhaps a child in the supermarket having a tantrum because they want to get Fruit Loops instead of the parents' more healthy choice of cereal.

We may think to ourselves, “My goodness... what a spoiled child!!”


”That parent has no idea how to raise a child!”.

But don’t be too quick to criticize. Dog parents can get the same judgment from other pet parents.

This begs the question:

  • Is my dog well-behaved in public?
  • Is my dog a good canine citizen?

In downtown Toronto, these are becoming very important questions.

With the ever-increasing number of condos, there are also a lot more dog owners. Unfortunately, these dogs and their parents have few parks to go to.

In downtown Toronto, between 5 pm and 7 pm, there is a doggy rush hour. Owners giving their furry friends some exercise and of course a much-needed washroom break. With all these dogs there is always the odd troublemaker.

In my observations, these are the top misbehaving characters I see at the park.

1- The bully

This dog thinks he/she is the “boss” of the park. He keeps every other dog in their place with a growl but usually does not escalate it to a full-out fight. They especially like to pick on younger dogs that are just learning the ropes.

2- The humper

Usually (but not always) an unneutered male.

As soon as this guy is taken off his leash, in a missile-like fashion he locks in on a victim, runs to him, and starts humping. The owner is embarrassed and profusely apologizes but everybody at the park is unimpressed. At the park, they jokingly call him: IVAN A HUMPALOT.

3- The Thief

This one blatantly interferes with the game of fetch that an owner and their friend are playing. She will grab the ball and take it away from the other dog and then run away to the far corner of the park. As everybody chases her, she thinks it’s a game and never gives up the ball.

4- The runaway

This is usually a new dog owner that does not know their dog well yet or a nervous dog that spooks easily. They are unmistakable because you will see the poor owner calling out their dog's name and hopelessly running behind them with a leash.

5- The antisocial

Some dogs just don’t like other dogs. They will bark or become aggressive with any dog that approaches them. If the dog is not on a leash this can lead to physical altercations with serious consequences. So if your dog is one of these, it’s better to avoid leash-free areas and always keep them under control. A muzzle may be needed in severe cases.

There you have it, if your dog falls into one of the above misbehaving urban canine categories be aware of their behaviour and try to minimize disruption at the park.

Some of the above issues can be fixed. For example, neutering males will address several of the problems, and obedience training is the other solution. So it’s not too late to help your dog become well-behaved.

Otherwise, people in the park and their furry friends will not be pleased to see you and your best buddy.

- Dr. Edison Barrientos

This article provides a summary view of some aspects you need to know about pets and good civic behaviour in public spaces. We recommend you take the time to talk in detail with one of our licensed veterinarians. She/he will provide the best suggestions and strategies for your pet. For an appointment please contact us at (416) 966-1830