I class dog owners as one of three types, based on my own experiences. There are varying degrees to which these types apply, naturally. At least the first two types, at any rate.
The first type is one I like to call the Crazy Dog Person (CDP). I mean this in the best possible way. These are the owners who are crazy about their dogs and aren’t ashamed to show it. These people dote on their dogs. They buy expensive food and treats without batting an eyelash at the cost. Some go so far as to buy clothes for their dogs, which for me, is pushing it just a little bit. I put myself in this category, because my dog is like my kid. I adore him. In recent years, he has cost me tons of money with regards to his health and I didn’t even hesitate. (I wish now that I’d known about pet insurance when we got him.) However, I am not one of those people who dresses her dog in dog clothes. That’s just pushing it a bit for me. Although I will admit, given his dislike of taking walks in the rain, I probably would have invested in a dog raincoat years ago, had I known such things existed.
The second type is the one many of us grew up around. These are the folks who have “yard dogs”. They’re not neglectful in the sense that their dogs are mistreated or starved, but they don’t treat their dog as a member of the family. These dogs generally end up being under-socialized, untrained and aggressive to strange people and dogs. These are tend to be the dogs that are responsible for bite incidents, simply because they aren’t appropriately socialized and trained. Are these people bad owners? Not in the strictest sense. But they’re not what I would call responsible owners either.
The last type is the abusive or neglectful owner. While some willfully choose to abuse the animals in their care, others become abusive owners due to illness or financial difficulties. When most people think of animal abusers, they think of people who deliberately mistreat their dogs, such as dog fighters. What people fail to realize is that not seeking medical treatment for a sick animal is abuse. Not being able to properly feed an animal is a form of abuse. Keeping more animals than you can provide for is abuse. Some abusers are not bad people; they didn’t intentionally set out to become animal abusers. But circumstances have worked against them and instead of asking for help or rehoming the animals, they continue to neglect their pets until the authorities step in.
While we don’t all have to be Crazy Dog People, we should aspire to be responsible owners whose pets are members of the family. This means ongoing training and socialization with both other dogs and other people. This means accepting the fact that if we don’t have time for our dogs, then it’s time to find a home for them that does have the time and energy to devote to care and training. This is not a sign of being a bad owner, this is being responsible and doing what’s right for the dog.
What kind of owners live in your neighborhood? What kind of owner are you?