For one reason or another, some dog owners and their dogs face hostility from members of the community. If your dog barks too much, displays a vicious temperament, runs at large in violation of law, or bites people, the hostility is well deserved and you need to focus on solving the problem even if it means putting the dog down. However, if the hostility is the result of bias or unfounded fear, there are steps that you should take to diffuse the situation.
The best strategy for pit bull owners and the owners of other politically incorrect dogs is this:
- Consider yourself the ambassador for the breed. Don’t force your dog on anyone who doesn’t like it.
- Use common sense in all safety-related situations. Don’t allow people to get into your dog’s face, or kids to excite your dog.
- Make it obvious that you obey all animal control laws.
If neighbors are vigilantly observing you and your dog, trying to set you up for a fall in “dog court,” add the following defensive measures:
- Take photos every day (date stamped and time stamped) of you and your dog on its leash. I recommend dedicating a specific memory card for these photos so that you don’t have to download them and keep track of them. Retain each photo on the card for three years. Keep the resolution under one megabyte.
- Invite neighbors to direct comments and criticisms directly to you. Listen without judgment. Gently correct any misstatements or misconceptions without becoming angry or wordy. Thank people for their comments and assure them that you either agree or that you will take their viewpoint into consideration in the future.
- In all situations and interactions, make yourself look better than the complainant. Don’t try to make the complainant look worse than you.
To diffuse the situation following a decision in your favor at “dog court,” post a sign, deliver fliers or mail letters that say the following:
“Peace and Safety For Our Neighborhood! We were grateful the animal control department confirmed that our dogs are NOT DANGEROUS OR VICIOUS. Anyone who wishes to read the official decision of the department should contact us for a copy. We want to keep the peace, and therefore publicly announce our determination to comply with the following mandates from the department: ___ . PLEASE LET US KNOW HOW WE ARE DOING! If you see or are told that we did anything wrong with our dogs, be a good neighbor and tell us directly. You can e-mail us at ___ .”