Saturday, May 21, 2011


I was brought up by a mother who insisted that we grow up to be pleasant and cultured people (remember when things like that were important?) – and on the top of her list for that was manners.

Dogs naturally have good manners.  Puppies know that they have to be polite to adults, to say “please” in doggy language when asking for something, to very, very clearly say “I’m sorry” if they have done something to offend, and certainly to give a “thank you” tail wag.  Youngsters know that the adults have right of way and first choice of anything that is important, and woe to the puppy that ignores the rules.  Adults get respect, and that means no pushing or shoving in front of them, no grabbing things or demanding access or attention – definitely a breach of manners and totally unacceptable. 

Dogs respect one another’s personal space, and follow a well defined pattern of behavior when meeting each other.  There is no rushing up and taking unwelcome liberties, unless you are prepared to take the consequences.  And a dog never ignores another dog – if someone else is there, he has the right to be acknowledged.

 A dog in the hunting field will respect his partner in the hunt, standing behind him at the point,  and never rushing ahead to frighten off his birds.  A sheepdog will honor his work partner’s right to run forward first, if that is what the shepherd requires, and will never interfere. 

Our dogs start their lives with us with a very good basic knowledge of manners, which they have learned from their mothers and litter mates.  And then they come to live with us…

We push our way into line when it is not our turn.  We drive our cars on the highway as if there is no one else there, weaving back and forth through the lanes with the assurance that no one else has the right of way but us.  We honk our horns at the slightest provocation or non-provocation.  We shout when we don’t get our own way – immediately!  Our children are positive that nothing counts but their own opinion, and that they must be served first.   We talk on our cell phones, ignoring the fact that there are real people there who need attention.  And…

We wonder why our dogs don’t have manners. 

One can ask – who is really the animal…?

"Hey kids, behave!!!"

"Daddy, please come and play!"

1 comment:

  1. I've noticed that some dogs are quite rude, I'm sure there is some kind of etiquette when dogs meet each other for the first time. Tova is quite proper about these things. We laughingly call her Miss Manners. If the cat jumps on the coffee table or counter, Tova immediately warns her to get down. If I tell Simi to do something or yell at him, Tova will nip at him, sort of saying "do what you are told". I've never had a dog who would make the other pets in the house conform to her standards. It's actually very amusing.