Saturday, 22 November 2008

What is acceptable behaviour?

And who says so? (And how much grief am I going to get from this post?). We need to have this discussion.

This is NOT what is responsible pet ownership. This is what is acceptable behaviour for a handler and their dog/s travelling on public transport, and it's a discussion that needs to be had from those travelling with dog and those observing or opposed.

We've all seen breed-ist behaviour, most ill-advised. "Alsatians are dangerous, big dogs are worse than little dogs, little dogs are harmless, Labradors are perfect and don't get me started on Staffies!"

What to we expect from ourselves and what do we expect from other - specific to using public transport across Australia?

I will start with someone else's opinion: (with comments).
  1. Accepting a friendly stranger (is this necessary?)
  2. Sitting quietly
  3. Clean (what happens with wet dog coming back from the beach or having walked in the rain?)
  4. Walking on a loose lead.
  5. Calm walking through a crowd
  6. Sit or down on command and staying in place (may need to use both hands to get through ticket barriers or buy a ticket).
  7. Coming when called (necessary if we have the dog on lead for the entire journey?)
  8. Reaction to another dog (compare this with humans, we don't like everyone, do our dogs need to?).
  9. Reaction to distraction (do we want a dog howling when the train goes over a noisy railway bridge - but they it could be very funny....)
  10. Supervised separation (again, needed if we have the dog on the lead for the entire journey?)

I look forward to your comments with some trepidation and thoughts about cans and worms.


Jennifer said...

I don't want pet dogs on trains and buses, full stop.

Being disabled and having an Assistance Dog, I have enough to worry about in making sure people don't approach my dog and don't touch, distract or step on him. I don't want to have to worry about other dogs possibly growling at my Assistance Dog, sniffing him or approaching him.

Some dogs have no training whatsoever, and owners that make no effort to control their dogs. I often see this on the street, when an owner will allow their dogs to approach my Assistance Dog, and make no effort to pull them off my Assistance Dog when their dogs growl, bark at and jump on my Assistance Dog. How much worse could this be in close proximity?

Not everyone looks after their dogs well (unfortunately!) and by allowing it to be a free for all, there are likely to be unbathed dogs, dogs with fleas, and dogs with worms on public transport.

Assistance Dogs are there because they're necessary for the disabled person to lead a normal life. Pets are not required to be there for their owners.

Anonymous said...

Some carriages are for dogs
some are not - there actually are people who don;t like dogs!
this is displayed beside the carriage door (the same for mobile phones but that's another issue)

Dogs should have a ticket - half a child fare as they don't take up a seat. Cheers, member I.B.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on having achieved governmental attention for the public transport issue and dogs.

My opinion, at this stage, is that dogs should travel in the first carriages. The point is not about dogs but that other members of the public might complain if they could encounter a dog in any carriage. By giving less sympathetic users of public transport the choice, there will be no basis for complaints (i.e., no risk to lose the hard-won rights).

As to training or no training for dogs to alight trains-- 'on short leash' and 'well-behaved' should be the main criteria. Some dogs (as ours) would need training to alight a train and not panic, others may do this gracefully. Is this a way to achieve a compromise?

Thanks for all your good work.
Member, Prof. G.K.

Anonymous said...

I would be fine with being restricted to a certain carriage if that was the only way to get this to happen – perhaps with a review clause eg. If no incidents for 12 months then general access……member H.J.

Anonymous said...

Hi Eedra,

It still perplexes me that this situation exists - Australia is so far behind the rest of cultured civilisation that it beggars belief. You are doing great work - my opinion is that all pets should be allowed on public transport - as is the case in most 'civilised' countries.

The Aussies make me laugh coz they think they are the best at everything, they love to criticise other cultures but cannot see that they are living in a very mediocre country trying its best to disguise that it is in fact a dictatorship.

We're heading home to London next year ... enough is enough!

Regards, R.P.

Anonymous said...

re jennifer - who and how was your dog trained - and at what cost? do you really think everyone else should change their lives because your dog isn't trained for our community where dogs are in nearly half of the homes..i don't understand as if your dog is an assistance dog surely it must be trained to a standard, please explain. how is your dog identified?

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Regarding the previous comment re Jennifer; I just ask Jennifer how you know that dogs (not your own) have worms.

Anonymous said...

I think the proposal should be accepted-ie test for transport.
We need to have some way to prove that we can be responsible,and it is a starting point.Moving forward from this point should be easier if people are responsible,thank you for the hard work. Sue A.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your good work.

I think some sort of test to gain a 'ticket' for dogs to travel on public transport would be necessary.

Maybe this would act as an encouragement for dog owners to train their dogs adequately. No one wants an antisocial dog next to them on public transport - but then a well-behaved one would be a great advertisement!

Good luck. Doreen

Jennifer said...

Hi Anonymous, in answer to your question my Assistance Dog was trained by a training organisation.
I don't know where you get the idea that my dog isn't trained to handle being near other dogs from. Perhaps read the post again.
One of the issues I think you are confusing is that owners of pet dogs often allow their dogs to jump on, growl at and approach my Assistance Dog. If people are that irresponsible in the open, how much worse could it be in a confined carriage? Not to mention the other issues discussed.

Eedra, you asked how I know that dogs have worms. It's a widely known fact that dogs that are untreated commonly have worms. If public transport becomes a free for all for anyone with their pet dogs, then statistics say some of those dogs will have worms. The issue itself is not "worms" though, that is just one example. Not everyone looks after their pets, and by opening up public transport for anyone and their pet, you will be allowing the responsible owners and the irresponsible owners with their pets on board. That is the wider issue.

Anonymous said...

I think Jennifers comment "I don't want pet dogs on trains & buses, full stop" is a little selfish. I know I have been in the situation where my car has broken down & I have had my dogs with me & it would have been so much easier for me to get home if I could have travelled by train with my dogs. But I also understand how Jennifer feels about dogs jumping on her (working)'t the situation with trains be acceptible to everyone by having 1) pet dogs allowed in the first carriage only & 2) assistance & guide dogs allowed in any other carriage (which I assume is the case now). That way everyone should be happy.
And if owners don't act responsibly with their dogs on public transport ie not keeping them under control etc then they could be fined & repeat offenders could also be banned from travelling with their dogs on public transport.

Kane said...

I have an assistance dog and it is trained and socialised well enough to happily ignore other dogs wherever we are. I think that having more dogs around would be better for all concerned. Since my dog was a pup I have also been relaxed around other dogs and not fought my dog in the earlier days when they would get a bit excited and want to say hello to other dogs. What I did was to allow the dog to say hello only so long as they sat and waited for permission. Now-a-days whereever we go my dog is happy to say hi or not as I never made a fight of it. When talking about how "Not everyone looks after their dogs well" I would like to say that most do and all are respectful of working dogs in my experience. Also fleas and worms are everywhere and if you put flea and worm drops on your dog, as any responsible owner should, then it is not an issue.

Jennifer said...

Kane I can appreciate your views, however in my experience of having an Assistance Dog, many dog owners (and we do meet a lot) do not seem to understand that my dog is a working dog, and allow their pets to approach and bark at, growl at and jump all over my Assistance Dog. If you can say you honestly have not experienced those problems then you will be the first Assistance Dog user I know of to claim that, and I think I want to move to your town :)

Yes, fleas and worms can be controlled with medication and in an ideal world all dogs would be treated, but unfortunately that's just not the reality. A lot of pet owners don't want to spend the money, and unfortunately if public transport was made a free for all, it would attract irresponsible owners as well as responsible ones.

Anonymous said...

“Jennifer I don't want pet dogs on trains and buses full stop". I'm new to this and it appears to be a privaate conversation between two people with assistnance dogs.
BUT! Jennifer, it seems to this reader, whose dog Georgie has travelled on public transport for years, that you want the whole world of pet onwers to change for YOU? You don''t want pet dogs full stop? Well how trained is your dog then?

Isn't the whole idea of having laws agaiknst discrimination so that people that people dealing with a disabling condition are treated , I hate to say the same. Maybe not the same because I would expect the ticket booth at the train to give more time to a person dealing with limited hand mobility (arthritus) before getting agro then they would to a person carping away on a mobile phone when people are queued up and the train is approaching so SAME may not be the right woord.
I don’t see the problem. Viva la difference! Some dogs work, some comfort, some have a holiday but if they fit in with whatever the situation maybe with something that YOUj may find offensive, well then what the?

Jennifer said...

Anonymous, your comment was quite long so I'll address it point by point.

As said before, I don't want anything to change for me :) I am saying I am happy with the current laws and I do not want the laws changed to provide more access for pets than there already is on public transport (for example, not all states allow pets on buses.) I am saying that I'm happy with how things are. My dog is very well trained, thank you. The issue is with irresponsible pet owners allowing their dogs to growl at, approach and jump on working dogs (how many times must I say this?)
Are you trying to imply that working Assistance Dogs should simply be forced to endure such behaviour from poorly controlled pet dogs? All Assistance Dogs, nomatter how well trained, can get distracted when poorly controlled dogs approach them and jump on them. For that reason, I appreciate the fact that a lot of public spaces are 'no pet zones' so that we can go about our chores without being hassled by uncontrolled or agressive dogs.

I agree with the second part of your comment. Anti discrimination laws are indeed there to protect the rights of the disabled. The rights of the disabled are not always respected by irresponsible dog owners though, and that is why I do not wish for the laws to be changed to give a free for all for irresponsible pet owners.

I have tried to explain my point of view simply and clearly, using plain language and unfortunately several people on here still seem to miss the point entirely.

Anonymous said...

i Have to agree with you totally Jennifer. My son has a Assistance Dog whom is extremly well behavioured and well cared for and have enough issues with access as it is. Don't want the law to change.

Jaki said...

Hey Jennifer,

You don't have problems with uncontrolled children approaching and distracting your dog? It's a problem I have all the time - but maybe my dogs are just too darn cute!

Stuff that we don't like happens - TO EVERYONE! - and you just have to deal.

I always find it interesting that people with so-called disabilities don't want to experience discrimination - and yet they do expect to be treated differently! No waiting, get a seat, special place to park, your dog doesn't get jumped on etc etc. Some of us who appear to not be "disabled" often have a very hard time dealing with day to day life, but that is the nature of day to day life!

Your comments follow the typical flawed logic of the "ban dogs brigade". Some people don't clean up after their dog, so all dogs should be banned. Some people allow their dog to jump on others, so all dogs should be banned in some places.

In NSW anyway, the law says that your dog must be under the effective control of an adult. Rather than banning ALL dogs from a situation, the provisions of the law should be used to limit the activities of those who don't obey it.

There is no difference in saying "some people drive badly - ban all drivers" We don't do that - we just deal with the ones who do drive badly.

To me, it is very sad that someone who (apparently) depends on a dog would have such a selfish and unsympathetic attitude to the rest of the dog population - the mere "pets".

Back to the orginal question - I have been "groped" by men (many times), vomitted on, had someone try to grab my bag, had beer spilt on my hair (from the seat behind) and caught almost in the middle of a knife fight on public transport. It's hard to think what a dog (even an uncontolled one) could dish up that would be worse than any of this stuff.

I have four dogs, and a big car to drive them around in, so I probably wouldn't be taking any of my dogs on public transport. However, I would be perfectly happy to sit next to a dog any time - even if I was dressed up to go out.

BTW, I've met a couple of pretty stinky Labrador assistance dogs - one very memorable one in the opera house - Dogue # 5 big time! People with assistance dogs don't always look after them well, particularly if they aren't really "dog" people in the first place, and just see the dog as a "tool". It does happen!

Jaki + four

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

I would like to offer the fact of pluralism to this debate. One somewhat non-appreciate view of pluralism is summed up in the quote ‘you can please some of the people some of the time, but none of the people all of the time’ or whatever it is.

I prefer to use a quote more honouring of our pluralistic society something like ‘a joyful life full of utterly frustrating, but tolerable annoyances’.
We’re different and we have different values.

But public transport is PUBLIC transport and pets are part of our PUBLIC. Is there any other industry as big as the pet industry and so poorly organised? Forestry and fishing – as combined industries, are SMALLER than the pet industry yet their needs are accommodated and their lobby strong.

Is this banter between ‘yes my dog’, but ‘not your dog’ why we as pet owners have allowed the ban dogs everywhere brigade? We also have the pure breed vs. mutts or designer dogs. Now we have assistance animals vs. pets! Can you imagine if fishing was banned everywhere, or if Warringah Council decided that fishers don’t mix with the shoreline in THEIR council (just like they say dogs and beaches don’t mix)? We would see it as nonsense.

In another example, I live adjoining a walking track, all unfenced. My uphill neighbours think it is normal dog behaviour for their dog to bark at every passing person and charge to the track. They also leave their dog alone regularly for more than 9 hours. I like my neighbours; I like their dog and I KNOW they love their dog. But their view of what normal dog behaviour is different from most other dog owners around here. It’s annoying. It’s frustrating. But their dog is loved and they are good people doing things differently than I would like. Pluralism. I would rather have it than not.

Jennifer said...

Anonymous, your intelligent response was like a breath of fresh air. Exactly - the laws are there for a reason. Sorry to hear that your Son is having access issues though.

Yes sometimes children do approach my Assistance Dog, however they normally listen when you tell them 'No', and normally their parents will come and explain to them why they can't approach a dog without permission, let alone an Assistance Dog. I find the parents are normally pretty good like that.

An expectation that Guide Dogs and Assistance Dogs should not get jumped on by poorly controlled pet dogs is not, in my view, an unreasonable or selfish expectation at all. It is common sense. No responsible pet owner should allow their dog to approach another dog without permission, and especially not a service animal.

As for your huge generlisation "I always find it interesting that people with so-called disabilities don't want to experience discrimination - and yet they do expect to be treated differently! No waiting, get a seat, special place to park" I truly don't know how your statement fits into a discussion about pets on public transport. I do happen to have a disability, but that doesn't mean I don't have to wait my turn, I always get a seat or a special place to park. Infact, none of those things apply to me at all. I have to abide by the same conditions as everybody else, just as I should. The only difference is that I am accompanied by an Assistance Dog.

You incorrectly accuse me of being part of some supposed 'ban dogs brigade' simply because I believe the laws are there for a reason, and I happen to agree with them. If you want to go off protesting for change, then go right ahead, but to be honest it's a fairly weak argument for you to call others selfish just because they don't happen to share your point of view. Go ahead and campaign for what you believe in. Our country allows free speech for a reason. Just don't expect all Assistance Dog users to agree with you that public transport laws need to be changed.

Helen J said...

I'm a Sydney dweller who is currently in Melbourne for work and has brought my dogs. How fantastic to be able to take my dogs on the train with me.

I think we are overthinking the whole situation. Here you don't see very many dogs on trains, aren't restricted to certain carriages and don't need any certificate. And having travelled in many countries where dogs are allowed freely on public transport, I haven't seen anything to suggest that any of the fears expressed in arguments against just changing the law are ever going to eventuate.

As usual, its just the usual paranoia about any sort of change in Australia giving our politicians an excuse to not do a thing.

Anonymous said...

I've just moved from Sydney to the UK. I'm in a small village in the North near the Peak district, about 5 minutes walk to pastures with horses, cows and sheep along public foot path which is very interesting to me.

It seems like dogs are everywhere, on the buses, in the shops and pubs and what a difference from Sydney!

Although I have to say that they don't pick up the poo as well as they did in aus, perhaps they aren't bothered by it as much or something.

Mike said...

I agree with Helen J who wrote: "I think we are overthinking the whole situation."

Even in a city the size of London, travelling every day with my dog on buses and trains, I doubt that I saw another dog more than once a week tops. Of those, less than one in ten would be an assistance dog.

On a train I would normally notice a dog as soon as the carriage doors opened, giving me plenty of opportunity to go the next carriage.

The rules of carriage on buses, trains and ferries in the UK are pretty simply summarised as "don't get in the way". Pretty easy really.

If Australians can't comfortably deal with such simple accommodations then it maybe the turn of the poms to call us "whinging".

Anonymous said...

I don't see any "whinging" here except for those who aren't happy with the laws, and want it changed. They seem to be whinging at anyone who is happy with the laws and doesn't share their view.

Anonymous said...

Consider the environment. I only have a car because I can't travel any other way with my dog. One less car is worth it.