We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

You don’t ignore them all the time

Because of the vagaries of the internet, comments are occasionally attached to Samizdata pieces that were posted many weeks ago. Such comments are liable not to be noticed. Well, my email this morning contained the text of a most helpful and interesting comment from Lisa Wylde on my piece about dog expert Jan Fennell. Here’s what Lisa said:

I was fortunate to get a place on one of Jan Fennell’s two day foundation courses. This was spent in her home, and to see how content and relaxed her own dogs were was an absolute inspiration. I have been interested in canine behaviour for many years, and it is interesting to see that many of the “experts” do not own dogs themselves – or indeed some of them own ones with “problems”. Of course there are some behaviourists, such as the late John Fisher who have a lot to teach us, unfortunately not all of them are as dedicated to the canine mind and spirit as he was.

You state that you should “ignore them all the time” this is not actually the case, simply that when YOU want to play and fuss your dog – YOU call them. Assuming they respond to your call, you can play, cuddle, fuss, whatever you want to do. But if you are sitting on the settee watching the tv, for example, and the dog comes to you uninvited, and plonks his head (or body!!) on your lap – you would quietly push them away, because you had not instigated contact. This is why some people believe it is cruel, “ignoring your dog all the time” but this is not actually what you do – just simply when you are relaxed and want to play with the dog you do so, and you would both enjoy it more, but if the dog was demanding to play, barking, jumping up etc. although you may accept his behaviour in the park when you are appropriately dressed, you may not appreciate the same “request” by your dog when you are dressed up ready to go out! Consistency is the key, if the dog knows that you will only play with it when you want to, and therefore learns manners, both of you will really relish that quality time together!

Lisa, thank you very much for this. This was the aspect of Fennellism that had been most bothering me, and you have answered my bother perfectly. After all, if you are supposed to ignore your dog all the time, then quite aside from the cruelty to your dog aspect, what, for you, is the point of having a dog? I knew there was an answer that I hadn’t assimilated, and I sort of knew what it was, in fact I must have read this answer myself in Jan Fennell’s book. But, I hadn’t absorbed it properly. Thanks for your explanation, and for your general confirmation of what I have believed of Jan Fennell ever since my sister and brother-in-law first told me about her, which is that she is definitely on the right track – the right dog track, you might say.

Alpha dog Brian with two pack members

1 comment to You don’t ignore them all the time

  • Denis Watkins


    I concur entirely with the comments of Lisa Wylde on dog training. We may have misled you about our views. The important point, as Lisa explains, is that the dogs should be ignored when you do not want them “taking over.” You decide when to interact with the dogs. I think that it is also good practice to ignore the dogs for a few minutes when you first meet them. As you would have seen, our dogs get lots of appropriate attention from us and, indeed, much of the pleasure of owning dogs is in the contact.

    Loved the photograph. I remember those happy, sunny days and the walk with the dogs on the cliffs with the spectacular coastal views.

    Sammy and Bwn send their regards.