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Subject: Dog Ownership in the US rss

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Key Locks
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I had an interesting experience recently that gave me some perspective on the culture of pet owners in this country.

This summer, my wife and I went to Italy for our honeymoon. There were, of course, many cultural differences we discovered between there and here, but I want to focus on one that I had not anticipated: Dogs.

At the outset, I must confess my bias: Neither I nor my wife are dog people. The first time we saw a dog in public on our trip, we did what was natural to us from years of experience: We internally recoiled and went on defense mode, and immediately changed our path to give us the maximum amount of space between us and the dog, keeping an eye on it the whole time so we could defend ourselves in case it decided to charge us and try to rip out our throats.

After a few episodes of this, something unbelievable dawned on us: Italian dogs are nice! We were shocked. They never barked at us, made any threatening moves toward us, or did anything bad that we saw. Whether they were being accompanied by their owners or not, they just pleasantly minded their own business like cuddly little kittens. After a while we learned not to be afraid of these gentle beasts, and all was well.

Which brings me to my point. Why was this such an adjustment for us? Because American dogs, in general, and with some rare exceptions, are psychopathic maniacs who will bark at a falling leaf and attack anything that looks at them in a sidelong fashion.

I believe that this is due to one overriding factor. Italians spend more time with their dogs, period. Dogs are very social and want to play and interact with people. But so many Americans just keep their dogs cooped up in their backyards until they are so attention-starved that they become homicidal maniacs. This may be due to the hardworking mindset of Americans as compared to Europeans: We are working longer and longer hours, but many of us still want to have our cake and eat it too with regard to pets, so we still own dogs but don't have time to give them the attention that they need. My next door neighbor's dog barks at me from behind the fence in a threatening way every single time I go in the backyard, even though he sees me all the time and must know me by now. My wife and I can't take a walk through our neighborhood without four or five dogs barking at us in a way that says "I want to taste your flesh."

I would rather people not own a dog rather than own one they don't have the time or the motivation to care for. Let's learn from the Europeans and be more responsible in this regard. If you own a dog, acknowledge its existence every now and then, even if that means you have to drop some of your other activities to free up time in your schedule. If you don't own a dog and don't have time for it, keep it that way.

EDIT: Because apostrophes are for chumps.
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CHAPEL
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Leezer wrote:
Let's learn from the Europeans ....


It's not the dogs that will kill you in Italy. It's the drivers.
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I think you're right in some ways that the dogs in Italy have been socialized better. They're always out with their owners and always around strangers so they are good with it.

Also, when you go over to visit a friend who has a dog, you are an invader to their domaine and they want you out and will tell you so loudly.

Some breeds are better than others at this.

Dogs will also respond differently to different people. They really can sense fear and timidity and they will try to gain the upper hand given the opportunity -- this often means that the people who are most uncomfortable around dogs get to see dogs at their most aggressive.

I would love to have a dog but I know with me and my wife's schedules, it would have to be alone for long stretches sometimes and I don't think that's fair to the dog. Maybe some breeds would tolerate this better, and maybe we could get two dogs.
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kSwingrÜber
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...just another example of how American Culture (or lack thereof) sucks.

~ ~ ~

When my wife and I were vacationing in New Zealand, we always tried to stay as far away from the American tourists as possible. They were loud, and rude, and obvious (even worse than the Ozzies! hehehe). And yeah, my wife and I are both very American -- we hoped it didn't show.
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Quote:
Because American dogs, in general, and with some rare exceptions, are psychopathic maniacs who will bark at a falling leaf and attack anything that looks at them in a sidelong fashion.


This has never been my experience.
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MWChapel wrote:


It's not the dogs that will kill you in Italy. It's the drivers.

I can attest to that. Naples was the worst in that regard. They're insane.
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Leezer wrote:
If you don't own a dog and don't have time for it, keep it that way.
Amen to that.
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jonnylawless wrote:
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Because American dogs, in general, and with some rare exceptions, are psychopathic maniacs who will bark at a falling leaf and attack anything that looks at them in a sidelong fashion.


This has never been my experience.


YEAH! ME NEITHER! I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE OP IS TALKING ABOUT!
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Heron Abroad
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Dog behavior in the U.S. varies widely; I can't really say there's a one-to-one correlation between time spent with dogs and how much they bark, etc. We have neighbors with a pit bull and a rottweiler, and, oddly enough, the pit bull is the quietest, friendliest dog on the entire street. The rottweiler barks and constantly acts like he wants to rip strangers' throats out. Same owners, two very different dogs.

Interestingly, the village dogs in Africa left us alone and didn't bark at anybody. However, their behavior seems to be caused by the opposite of what you say caused the Italian dogs to seem so friendly. The dogs weren't really pets at all (as far as I could tell); they just wandered the streets and lay around. As you came near, they'd look in your direction, and then wander off. And this is how we could tell they weren't kept as pets -- they don't make eye contact with people the way pet dogs do.
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I a nor a dog person. I am indifferent to them but I did not notice a difference when I was in Italy vs US except that there were more "wild" dogs on the streets in the los world
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Leezer wrote:
but many of us still want to have our cake and eat it too


You can have your cake and eat it. You have your cake in your hand and then you eat it.

What you can't do is eat your cake and still have it in your hand. That's where we get the expression "You can't eat your cake and have it", meaning sometimes your choices are irrevocable.
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jonnylawless wrote:
Quote:
Because American dogs, in general, and with some rare exceptions, are psychopathic maniacs who will bark at a falling leaf and attack anything that looks at them in a sidelong fashion.


This has never been my experience.

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Maybe it's just because I'm not afraid of dogs to begin with.
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CHAPEL
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We're Americans. We like our Dogs and pets like we like our Women. Wild and unpredictable. You know what they call people who were too much of a wuss to come to the untamed country of the Americas for the adventure and freedom. Europeans. They're the granny panties we left behind! So no wonder European dogs are like quiet little lap dogs.

Yee Haw! *BANG* *BANG*

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I lived in Italy for 4 years at a small Italian air base. We only had around 110 Americans stationed there and we all lived out in the city with the Italians. During my time there I had the exact same experience with dogs that I have in the US. There were normal house pets that were much loved by their owners. Nice dogs that sometimes barked a lot and and occasional psycho dog. There were the dogs that would chase you if you road your bike within 100 yards of there territory (A friend and I had a bad experience getting chased by 2 great danes on a rural road we were riding on. I was faster than my friend and he has a nice scar on his left butt cheek to prove it.). There were the farm dogs that would lay there looking at you till you reached a certain distance and would then go into alert mode. There were even junkyard dogs. One thing that was different was that there were a LOT of strays. And you could tell which ones they were because as a previous poster said, they would not make eye contact. Another thing that I saw a lot was that in Italy, when a dog did something bad, the owner DISCIPLINED the dog. A lot of times I thought they were a little harsh on the dog but the dog usually behaved. I think THAT is a big difference. Their dogs are just better trained. In the US, a lot of people seem to think that their pet is a human and treat it like one. I do it myself but within reason IMO.
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Andy Andersen
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To the OP - I've got a beagle who will turn you into a dog lover.

Guaranteed.
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Komodo wrote:
I lived in Italy for 4 years at a small Italian air base. We only had around 110 Americans stationed there and we all lived out in the city with the Italians. During my time there I had the exact same experience with dogs that I have in the US. There were normal house pets that were much loved by their owners. Nice dogs that sometimes barked a lot and and occasional psycho dog. There were the dogs that would chase you if you road your bike within 100 yards of there territory (A friend and I had a bad experience getting chased by 2 great danes on a rural road we were riding on. I was faster than my friend and he has a nice scar on his left butt cheek to prove it.). There were the farm dogs that would lay there looking at you till you reached a certain distance and would then go into alert mode. There were even junkyard dogs. One thing that was different was that there were a LOT of strays. And you could tell which ones they were because as a previous poster said, they would not make eye contact. Another thing that I saw a lot was that in Italy, when a dog did something bad, the owner DISCIPLINED the dog. A lot of times I thought they were a little harsh on the dog but the dog usually behaved. I think THAT is a big difference. Their dogs are just better trained. In the US, a lot of people seem to think that their pet is a human and treat it like one. I do it myself but within reason IMO.


After I posted above (re: stray dogs not making eye contact), I started to wonder whether, not being dog people, the OP mistook stray behavior for "friendliness".
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Had I still lived in the suburbs, I would've agreed with you on American dogs, but the ones here in the city are, for the most part, chill. It's not just about the owners spending time around the dogs, it's how many people and other dogs do they spend time with on a day to day business. If a dog tried to bark wildly at every person that passed like a suburban dog would, the little guy would lose his voice in a matter of minutes.
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erak wrote:
Had I still lived in the suburbs, I would've agreed with you on American dogs, but the ones here in the city are, for the most part, chill. It's not just about the owners spending time around the dogs, it's how many people and other dogs do they spend time with on a day to day business. If a dog tried to bark wildly at every person that passed like a suburban dog would, the little guy would lose his voice in a matter of minutes.


Yep. Come to Minneapolis on a summer day, spend it at Lake Calhoun. You'll see hundreds of dogs, and 98% of them will be extremely well socialized and calm.
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howl hollow howl
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wadenels wrote:
Come to Minneapolis on a summer day, spend it at Lake Calhoun. You'll see hundreds of dogs, and 98% of them will be extremely well socialized and calm and crapping all over the place.

FTFY.
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In the interest of the reciprocal comprehension of the differences between Italian and US dogs, I just wanted to add that "bau! bau!" is Italian for "arf! arf!".
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kswingruber wrote:

...just another example of how American Culture (or lack thereof) sucks.


Wow. (That is all I can say in Chit Chat about that.)
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Well I just got a dog and corresponded a lot with my american girlfriend about it. She is a dog specialist having bred them and is aware of many of the vagaries that go with it. As I wanted a larger dog - but I have two children - I was looking for a friendly sort of playful fellow.

Shepards are - usually - good natured but I didnt want a German shephard. An obvious choice in Belgium would have been a Malinois - a belgian shephard. However even in Europe (and the US) these dogs are bred to have 'drive' as it is euphemistically called. The realistic description of that is that they have no OFF button except vis a vis their owner. I then looked at the Dutch Shephard which also was a good natured dog to start with. Due to it being clever and being used in police work it is now also overbred to have drive. In the US a Dutch Shephard is now equivalent to a dog you cant keep in house or near children. Sad really.

In Europe it is already bad - but in the US it really is much much worse. We looked at a lot of puppy offerings stateside and the fact the animal had 'a lot of drive' or 'extremely driven' was listed as a plus. What people dont realise is that you are basically taking a wild animal into your home when you do that and unless you assert alpha leadership firmly there will be trouble. Such dogs needs lots of exercise and play or they get very very crabby or even psychotic. Thats why you see people walking them with strangle leashes they abuse. I disapprove of strangle leashes but even the maker says its not meant for you to pull on - its meant for the dog to learn self limitation. Yet half the videos of problem dogs on you tube you see an owner pulling like mad on an overdriven dog.

The smaller dogs - popularised by the likes of Paris Hilton - are usually quite tense little things. They sometimes need even more dominance from the owner than a larger good natured dog. So whenever you see a dog misbehaving its always the owners fault or at the very least the breeders for breeding such strong drive into them. I am loath to generalise but it is perhaps reasonable to say that European cities being much more compact than american ones - it is less likely for a European to get a very driven dog or tense dog. From my months of surfing dog sites in US and Europe I had the distinct impression that it is different in the US - strong drive is a selling point. Add to that the fact a big dog needs leadership and you will see many failing in it for reasons named above - lack of attention during the day etc...

I finally settled on a Picardy Shephard ([geekurl=http://julius.home.xs4all.nl/hond.html]"link to some pictures of him 1 month ago"[/geekurl]) who is a bit of a forgotten race and has not had drive bred into him. Eventhough he does get big he is friendly, needs his pack around him and though curious has so far never barked, growled or bit anyone except in play and even that wasnt a real bite more of a nip. A dog is great - just know you are taking on a 15 year responsability and something that needs you 4-5 times a day. If you want to have an animal you can leave alone - take a cat (which I had for 14 years before this).

*gets off soapbox*
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You must not have hit Venice. As I recall, dog poop everywhere.
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Leezer wrote:
But so many Americans just keep their dogs cooped up in their backyards until they are so attention-starved that they become homicidal maniacs.


Or the other extreme, they keep a labrador in a 2x5 crate all day and it runs in the park and pulls a muscle!!!! Then they complain about how much the dog costs them. IT'S VEAL! YOUR DOG IS VEAL!!!! A dog is meant to run around on acres not a 20x30 postage stamp.
People think I am not a dog person, but in reality, I am not a "dog person" person. These idiots that buy big dogs and live in vinyl villages with no yards are selfish. Ooooo we wuvs our big boy... ugh. If you loved him, you'd put a bullet in his head. I'm sure he'd ask for it if he could when he's standing in his crate in a pan of his own waste.

Sorry, but I have 2-3 friends that fall in this category and it drives me nuts.
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