Napping pub dogs

One thing I will really miss about London was the presence of dogs in pubs.

Gin and Fizzy

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.

Dogs in St. John's Wood

Dogs in St. John's Wood

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?

Disdainful beagle at a café

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.

Beagle at tea

Enhance!

Beagle (c) Abby Farson Pratt

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.

A German shepherd in London

While enjoying a drink at the New Inn (where pub dogs Gin and Fizzy reside), a man walked by with this handsome pup:

Dogs in St. John's Wood

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.

9-mo.-old GSD in the neighborhood

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!

Dogs in St. John's Wood

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!

Another patient British pup

Another installment in my patient British dogs series

Dachshund at pub

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.

The Wrestlers in Highgate Village

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!

The patient British pup

Neighborhood on a Wednesday

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 it is simply not done.

Neighborhood on a Wednesday

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?)

Is a (relatively) leash-less life a key to well-adjusted dogs?

Mint Springs Valley Park hike
Practicing some off-leash hiking, September 2014.

Related to my thoughts on the impeccably mannered British dog and to my dad’s practice with our dogs off leash this summer, I have started to piece together some conclusions about why European dogs have their ish together so much more than American dogs seem to, on the whole.

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

  1. have excellent recall;
  2. don’t have reactive outbursts to other dogs or people, in general;
  3. 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.

Freedom for the pups in Davidson. We're all so delighted to be with family. #doglife #carolinachristmas

What do you think? Are leashes (and thus humans) partly to blame for a lot of the reactive dog behavior we see stateside?

Informing on other dog owners

Maybe THIS is why British dogs are so well-behaved:

Waterlow Park dog sign

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?