One thing I will really miss about London was the presence of dogs in pubs.
This adorable pair is named Gin (the black English cocker spaniel on the left) and Fizzy (the adorable tiny mix, frog-legging), and they hold court at the New Inn in our neighborhood in London.
I love them. Gin and Fizzy took their jobs as pub dogs quite seriously, and they were SO deeply mellow that they almost seemed drugged. It’s kind of adorable how sleepy they seemed to be every time we visited.
Are there any pubs or restaurants in your area that are especially dog friendly?
Getting some major side eye from this beagle in our neighborhood in London. He was just enjoying his latté and would like to be left alone, thank you very much.
I love him.
He also seems to prefer to dine in a chair, like a proper gentleman. I saw him again about two weeks after I snapped this picture, and he was at a different café, sitting once more in a chair, looking around with an appraising eye.
While enjoying a drink at the New Inn (where pub dogs Gin and Fizzy reside), a man walked by with this handsome pup:
Heart all a flutter! I said, “Your dog is beautiful,” and he smiled, and I responded that we had two German shepherds at home. It’s always a good “in” if you want to pet a shepherd, which is not something that I generally ask, but bereft of P and E for the summer, my dog-craziness has reached unsustainable levels. He kindly replied that we could, and his dog sniffed me gently and let me pet him for a bit.
The man told us that the shepherd was 9 months old and from a West German imported line. “I’m pretty fit,” he told us, “but he makes me look like a slob.” German shepherds will do that to you!
The dog was beautifully calm and very attentive to his person. He was also heeling very nicely, and I was pleased to see that he didn’t have a very exaggerated back end, which always makes me happy. It’s always nice to meet a stable, young breed ambassador. Live long and prosper, British German shepherd pup!
This little dachshund was patiently sunning himself in a pub terrace in Highgate Village, while waiting for his humans to finish their drinks. I love his rope leash, but it looked way too heavy for his tiny body; I’d have used it on our dogs but not on a creature of his size.
He has a very handsome countenance. I just wish his legs were about two inches longer. I admit that the modern build of the miniature dachshund makes me a bit sad. I have seen a few longer-legged dachshunds here in London, however, and I even saw an impressively fast one retrieving a ball in Regent’s Park. Properly proportioned doxies do exist!
Another entry in my ongoing series on the impressive patience of English dogs. This happy little guy was waiting outside a Pret in our neighborhood in London. I wanted to scoop him up, but I know that itis simply not done.
Teach me, O wise one, your patient ways, that I may import them to my wild shepherds in America…
I don’t tie up our dogs outside when running errands, simply for fear of all of the potentialities (namely, one of them feeling cornered by another dog and lashing out or Pyrrha feeling trapped by a child and attempting to bite), and so I always admire the dogs that seem to have so much composure.
Do you ever tether your dog while you are in a store? If so, how does he or she behave? (And if patiently, how did you train that?)
Some generalizations based on my limited time living in London:
Europeans seem to have high expectations for their dogs. They certainly dote on them, maybe even more than Americans do on the whole, but they also expect them to behave well. The (urban) European dog needs to be able to compose himself at a busy café, wait patiently outside a store, and stroll through a park without picking fights or harassing strangers.
Accordingly, “training” seems less formal and more about exposure to the world at large. This is also much easier to do than in America, because leash laws—even in a city as large as London—are much more relaxed here than in the States. Dogs only wear leashes occasionally and thus they have to conduct themselves appropriately in public beyond the limits of a leash.
All of this exposure and leash-less-ness creates dogs who are, on the whole, relaxed and well-adjusted.
Obviously, not every dog in Europe is well-adjusted. (I saw a miniature schnauzer try to bite the head off a baby Maltese in the street, but this was mainly because the schnauzer was straining at a leash and his owner was shouting, “BE NICE! BE NICE!” which was definitely ineffective and only escalated the situation.) But overall: Such polite dogs.
All of this compounded off-leash time in giant parks has created a culture of European dogs who
have excellent recall;
don’t have reactive outbursts to other dogs or people, in general;
seem calm and self-controlled in almost every public circumstance.
This is the trifecta of good behavior that I feel like the majority of US dog owners I know (myself included) just dream of for their dogs.
And so who is to blame for maladjusted dogs acting up in public? Obviously, we humans are. These are the conclusions I’ve drawn:
For all of my reading, I am a sadly lazy trainer, and I have unwittingly allowed my dogs to practice reactive behavior.
I have bad leash-handling skills. And having two reactive German shepherds has proven to be a large stumbling block for my ability to train myself.
Leashes are very helpful and an essential safety component of the 21st-century dog’s life, but I daresay we misuse them more often than we know. I know I am at fault here and that my poor leash-handling skills are often to blame for my dogs’ reactive outbursts. I transfer a lot of tension to the lines when I see another dog, because I also get anxious.
I also have not trained Eden in loose-leash walking, at all. Pyrrha, being so shy, naturally has always wanted to stick close to me, and so I assumed I was just an awesome dog trainer and was magically teaching her how to loose-leash walk, through mind transfer or something. False. Pyrrha just had no interest in pulling. Eden, on the other hand, thinks she’s a husky. Sigh!
So, up next in my chain of pondering all of these “perfect” European dogs: How can I improve my leash-handling skills? More thoughts to come.
What do you think? Are leashes (and thus humans) partly to blame for a lot of the reactive dog behavior we see stateside?
Maybe THIS is why British dogs are so well-behaved:
I saw this sign in Waterlow Park in London and had to take a quick shot (with my brother- and sister-in-law reflected in the glass), as it seemed to be some additional proof for my investigation into the overwhelmingly polite behavior of English dogs.
I’m sure that US dog parks may also have some signs like this, but I haven’t seen anything quite this direct posted in a public park. Americans would likely bristle at such a poster and interpret it as infringing on our freedoms (and the right to have a maladjusted dog and to not clean up after them).
I asked another Brit, who has lived in the United States, why he thought British dogs were so polite. He chalked it up to Brits caring more about what other people think of them (and accordingly, their dogs) than Americans seem to. A badly behaving dog is a reflection on her owner and vice versa.
Do you think a policy like this would actually help curb bad-dog behavior in a public space? Or does it work here because there’s already an underlying cultural factor to comport oneself (and one’s canine) with decorum?
This past weekend, we walked for about 12 miles in and around Hampstead and particularly enjoyed Hampstead Heath.
I was, naturally, fixated on observing all of the dogs, who get to run around the gigantic park off leash. Hampstead Heath is like an enormous, boundary-less dog park, and the dogs all appeared to be in heaven. And per usual here in London, they were all behaving beautifully. I didn’t see a single fight or tussle. Many of the dogs ignored each other, and if they did stop to greet each other, it was very brief and polite.
Quick phone photos of a small fraction of all of the dogs we saw:
(*The only anxious dog I saw was a German shepherd puppy. Go figure. We asked to pet her, and she was a fluffy bundle of nerves, about 12 weeks old. She was crying because she couldn’t bite the wheels of a child’s tricycle. Her back hocks were horribly misshapen and she had no strength at all in her back end. I hate seeing that. I really do.)
More than anything, this park made me wish our girls could have been raised in London. I daresay they would have been so much more well-adjusted in public, if they had had regular access to such immense and beautiful off-leash places. Definitely something to keep working on once we come home in August.
Visiting this park inspired me to visit more of the parks in our area back home. We don’t have an off-leash space quite to this degree of magnificence, but we do have some safe trails to practice recall. I am inspired!
Do you have an off-leash area near where you live?
Along with behaving beautifully in public, British dogs also seem to be extremely patient. It is very common to see them tethered outside restaurants and shops, and the dogs wait with the most heartbreakingly stoic resolve. They don’t try to greet other people or other dogs. They don’t whine or bark or pull. They just sit. And wait.
Like this little guy, waiting in Ambleside (in the Lake District):
Even the dogs here observe that “stiff upper lip.”