I personally spend a lot of time in the Community educating people about dogs. Not a set program, but we walk the streets a lot with a pair of dogs and we stop and chat with loads of people. About how to approach, how to always ask and how some dogs are not happy being petted. The amount of people, especially parents, who thank us for taking the time to talk to their kids. I think part of it is that our dogs are very friendly and people feel the need to ask, "can they pet the dog". Our dogs do not worry and I only warn about possible slobber on a hot day.......This gives us an opportunity to speak with people. And many people tell us they have no dogs, but ours look friendly.
Fear of certain dogs is largely to blame for people being anxious around certain dogs. Also the not so friendly behaviour of both dogs and owners makes this worse.
I even see it at our Kennel Club, some dogs want to be friendly as youngsters, but their owners almost do not allow it.
I spend a lot of time on the ground before and after the class to give dogs the opportunity to get to know one another and other people on lead. This is such a great opportunity to do this. An controlled environment, with lots of dogs and people of all ages. It is also a time to educate people on the "stress" signs some dogs give and once they realise, they are often a lot more careful and also learn to bring their dogs in at an easier pace and better distances.
Many p[eople who are dog savvy are not helpful to the general community. I see this at shows too or trials.........Joe Public comes to have a look and most dog people do not give them the time of day. this is another great time, to show and tell. And the feed back is that people are so happy for you to actually chat to them and tell them about dogs. many new people with no dogs attempt to see dogs at shows and are often not nicely received. I know we are all busy at shows, but even saying, "come back in a little while, I just have to go showing now". And they are often there waiting for you.
I also do therapy work, both with older people and with School age intellectually and physically disabled, it is another area where you can allow people to see dogs at their best. I have been asked to do some educating at the Schools, but I cannot take the time to go to the work-shops you have to attend in Sydney, which is a shame.
I think as dog-owners we are all responsible to show people how to deal with dogs. We do not want dogs to be out-lawed in all sorts of areas in the future. So we need to represent good dog ownership, show them how it can be.......
I will get off my soap-box now