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Has anyone traveled in Europe and noticed how many dogs are in public and behaving really nicely? Often even in restaurants and coffee shops, and sitting calmly by their owners? I lived in Germany and traveled around Europe for 3 years. I never could figure out how the owners did this. They just seemed to be normal dogs of any breed, not specifically Service Dogs in vests or anything, but acted so much better than dogs in the US.

I have been thinking about this a lot recently after unfortunately seeing more signs up 'No Dogs Allowed', even in outdoor places like our Farmers Market.

So I did a search, and found this article:

Were you as surprised at the conclusion of the author as I was?
 

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It's an interesting article. I've also often wondered about that. I suspected it was in part difference in culture toward dogs as well as different views of owner responsibility. I think dogs are allowed less places here because we all know that we cannot trust people to only bring well behaved dogs. And there is a lack of owner responsibility in proper training of dogs. Americans also seem to have a profound sense of entitlement that complicates things. I don't know how that differs in Europe. I do think that constant exposure to well behaved public is very important in developing good dog behavior. I have tried hard to work with Misha from a young age on proper ignoring of people on walks. He does very well though he will explode with joy if somebody stops and engages him. With other dogs it is very hard because people so often allow their dogs to engage other dogs on leash. Misha does great when other dogs are ignoring him but has a very hard time when the other dog is reactive or trying very hard to greet. It would be nice if other owners were more helpful with this training!
 

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The off-leash note reminds me of this fascinating piece by Dr. Dunbar:


It's dense, but so worth it.

Relevant highlights:

Over the years, dog training has become overly complicated, time-consuming, technical, mechanical and impersonal — lacking in communication, interaction and relationship. I feel that dog training has lost its way, its voice and its soul. We simply have to get things back on track before dog training … (dare I say it?) … goes to the dogs.

Regarding training in the '80s—

In SIRIUS puppy classes, training was conducted off-leash within the play session in order to prevent physical prompts (especially leash tugging and jerking) from becoming a crutch — an extremely difficult-to-dispense-with crutch.

vs. a decade later—

So many puppy classes and workshops are conducted on leash and in my opinion, today’s dogs are much more reactive around other dogs, more fearful of people and the acquisition of bite inhibition has suffered.


Thanks for getting my mental wheels spinning, @kontiki! I had a very European relationship with Gracie and would love to get back to that. Our "training" was almost entirely about building our bond, and we were in a big, busy city where people were focused mostly on their own business.

I'm also reminded of a young Polish friend of mine, who—with no dog training experience whatsoever—had the most exquisitely well-behaved Dalmatian. No leash in sight, ever. She could say to that dog in a soft, conversational tone, "Vicki, go home!" and off Vicki went.

One notable thing about Vicki is that she couldn't have cared less about any of us. Her world was her human. But she always had the freedom to sniff or explore. She never learned to associate the sight of other people with leash tension, pent-up excitement, or frustration (i.e. stress).
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
The off-leash note reminds me of this fascinating piece by Dr. Dunbar:


It's dense, but so worth it.

Thanks for getting my mental wheels spinning, @kontiki! I had a very European relationship with Gracie and would love to get back to that. Our "training" was almost entirely about building our bond, and we were in a big, busy city where people were focused mostly on their own business.

I'm also reminded of a young Polish friend of mine, who—with no dog training experience whatsoever—had the most exquisitely well-behaved Dalmatian. No leash in sight, ever. She could say to that dog in a soft, conversational tone, "Vicki, go home!" and off Vicki went.

One notable thing about Vicki is that she couldn't have cared less about any of us. Her world was her human. But she always had the freedom to sniff or explore. She never learned to associate the sight of other people with leash tension, pent-up excitement, or frustration (i.e. stress).
Wow, thanks for the great Ian Dunbar article. For some reason I haven't read him before, but he so much says what I mostly think and do.

This really rang a bell with other discussions:
... " The instructive nature of aversive punishment depends almost entirely on split-second timing and the effectiveness of punishment-training requires 100% consistency. Punishment worked extremely well in laboratory learning theory experiments but not very well in real life, especially with human trainers. Ill-timed or inconsistent aversive feedback makes it difficult for dogs (and horses, students, employees, spouses and children) to learn anything but a dislike for “training” and the “trainer”. Even when aversive punishment does work, the result is woefully insufficient."....

..... "Most people are pretty inconsistent and don’t have brilliant timing. Whereas inconsistency and lousy timing can actually work quite well with reinforcement, either one destroys any punishment-training program." .....

His article is a keeper. I will be going back to read it again :)
 

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Yes, I come originally from a european country that has a more american like dog culture. As in they are not allowed anywhere and its really frowned upon and considered unnatural to take them to crowded places and human centric things like christmas markets or parades.

But since moving to the UK, Belgium and travelling around Germany I would say that the cultures that have the most relaxed rules and attitudes towards dogs have the most well behaved ones.

You dont have to actively socialise your dog here. Dogs go with you everywhere anyway, puppies get socialised just by living life. I dont think Belgian dog owners are more educated its just that the lifestyle here and environment is dog friendly.

Im super excited about doing that with my poodle puppy. Our biggest challenge will be not to do too much too soon.

The fact that dogs are allowed everywhere also means that they are not forced to congregate all in one place together. They are more spread out over the city. Going to all of the parks, doing things, going to the cafe or pharmacy with the owner. They dont just stay inside except for walks and outings to specific dog friendly places like my childhood dogs.

When you can take your dog with you for dinner at a restaurant ect the outings can have various different energy and purpose for the dog. Sometimes we go out for a crazy run in the forrest but sometimes we go and you have to sit nicely under the table. For my childhood dogs who werent allowed anywhere outside time was always crazy playtime.
 

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Yes, I come originally from a european country that has a more american like dog culture. As in they are not allowed anywhere and its really frowned upon and considered unnatural to take them to crowded places and human centric things like christmas markets or parades.

But since moving to the UK, Belgium and travelling around Germany I would say that the cultures that have the most relaxed rules and attitudes towards dogs have the most well behaved ones.
Interesting. Which European country did you come from that has a more american like dog culture?
And which country are you living in now?

I had wanted to go study with my service dog in Spain and it became an almost impossible hassle with the University in Salamanca, so I didn't go. Whereas from what I found out about Germany it would have been fairly easy. But I wanted to be immersed in a Spanish speaking culture.

This is great to be getting some first hand information from someone who has actually lived in different European countries.
 

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I do worry a lot about the covid puppies though. Most puppies born in 2020 will not have had these expriences but owners will probably still have the expectation that their dogs are supposed sit calmly at the cafe once everything opens up.

The effect has the potential to be severe as we have a generation of shutdown puppies but people will still have the same cultural expectations of these dogs as they have for the pre-covid dogs who were exposed to these environments from a very young age.
 

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Good insight. I too am worried about COVID-19 puppies/dogs. They simply are not being socialized well. We may well end up with a lot of both human and dog aggressive dogs from this time.
 

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Thanks for the article, Kontiki. I actually know the author - she used to watch Mia when I traveled - and can vouch for her expertise.

I would add, however, that the dogs owned by European-born friends now living in the US are still exceptionally well behaved. We sometimes hike with a German couple, meeting up at a trailhead along a speedy rural road. While I am careful to keep Mia on lead from the car to the gate, they have no trouble with their dog, who stands unhurriedly behind their car as they retrieve whatever from their trunk, barely turning his head as cars zip by only two or three yards away. Similarly with Dutch friends. Perhaps this is a matter of owners' expectations, the 25% Kama doesn't explain.
 

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My experience in the German and Nordic areas of Europe is that self restraint and consideration for the neighbors is baked into the culture in a way unfamiliar to Americans. I once had a friendly little terrier, the elderly owner puffing along behind at a fast trot, run up to me on a walking path running along the Swiss-German border. I was feeling a bit homesick and was completely fine with being accosted by a cute dog. The owner, however, was mortified. She went into an apologetic tirade of Swiss German, of which the only two words I understood were "schrecklich" and "hund," while I stood bemusedly smiling down at the little dog.

I think this cultural understanding - that owners are responsible for keeping their dogs on best behavior so as not to disturb others - has ultimately given dogs and dog owners more freedom in these societies.
 
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