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Sharing The Public Space

My contemporary dance class is held in a studio of the third floor of a performing arts building (i.e., a building specifically intended for the study, rehearsal and creation of various kinds of performance and visual art) in the city in which I live. Sometimes functions are held on the ground floor, however these are rarely an inconvenience (one week the entire building was lit with blue lighting for a function- my class made a beautiful dance film in the unusual lighting).

However, one week there was a party on the ground floor who were particularly noisy. Their chatter floated up two floors, and was annoying but tolerable- our teacher easily compensated by talking a little louder than usual, and after all, it was a public building.

However, the whole “public building” concept appeared foreign to those at the function. A man from said event barged into our class, glass of wine in hand, to inform us that we had to turn our music down, as it was interfering with the speeches they were about to make, before leaving. Our teacher complied with this request, and the chatter from the function could be heard clearly over our music.

My personal belief is that simply because you choose to hold your event in a public building, which is one of very few available venues for rehearsing performing arts in our city, compared to numerous clubs, restaurants and function centres offering rooms for booking, you are not entitled to superior treatment over others who have booked and paid for space in that venue (particularly parties who have been doing so weekly for several years.) 0316-12

People renting public venues have to expect that they may be sharing that same space with the general public.   A common misunderstanding is when a bridal couple believes that renting a portion of a public park for their ceremony or reception means Joe Public should be nowhere in sight.   Prior to booking the venue, the facility manager/coordinator should make it very clear what can be expected and not expected.  Booking an event when there are regularly scheduled meetings and other functions at the same facility means one has to accept the limitations of the venue.  That also includes whatever artwork is hanging in a public gallery…asking to have it removed or covered is not acceptable.  The world does not come to a stand still while your party goes on.

I can see asking another group or function to please tone it down for a very short, specified period of time.  When my niece married, it was on the second floor of a facility that was having another wedding ceremony just below us on the ground floor.   We were dancing our hearts out to Cupid Shuffle when the facility manager asked if we could tone it down with the stomping while the wedding party below us went through their vows.  No problem.   But when their ceremony was over, we resumed our dancing.   Note that it was the facility manager who made the request, not a random guest.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jojo March 22, 2012, 8:48 am

    Just because someone has a glass of wine in their hand, doesn’t mean that they don’t have a legitimate concern and a valid reason to make a request. It does sound like the venue needs better sound proofing if both groups could hear each other several floors away. This was a one off event that didn’t do much to interfere with the regular class, it does sound a tad like OP has become quite territorial about her place and time in the venue. As she points out herself, we all have to make compromises in public venues. I’ve attended rather a lot of evening classes and generally distractions from other building users are dealt with with humour and a bit of give and take. The really annoying incidents have been when the class hasn’t been informed in advance of venue closures or the unavailability of the teacher – but that’s another issue entirely!

  • o_gal March 22, 2012, 9:02 am

    And this especially is true for when you are renting or otherwise not paying, and there is no manager because it’s a public open space.

    July 7, 2007 was an extremely popular day for weddings. My BIL (DH’s brother) got married in a small chapel on the Case Western Reserve Univ campus. There was a gap between ceremony and reception so DH, DS, and I walked over to the beautiful park area around the art museum, which has a reflecting pool in front. There were bridal parties galore, and we counted over 10 parties who decided to come to the very very public park to have wedding pictures taken. Most parties were waiting patiently, but there were some brides who were very upset that they had to wait for others to finish. One bride was openly complaining, loudly, to her party about having to wait.

  • KMC March 22, 2012, 9:32 am

    There is a public park in my city that is very popular for two things: people walking their dogs, and women getting their bridal portraits done. Dogs are allowed at the park, and there is one section where off-leash dogs are permitted, so long as they are well behaved and obedient. Most brides stick to the main part of the park (where dogs are supposed to always be leashed), because there are many memorial structures. This means a lot of marble, granite, and other pretty looking stone for backdrop. Every once in awhile, a bride wants to do pictures near the stream which falls within the off-leash permitted area of the park.

    I have seen at least two brides start screaming at dog owners because the dogs dared to go splashing in the stream, getting too close to her, or running by as the photographer clicked (so now there’s a dog in her picture).

    I also always worry about the dogs that the owners should not have off-leash even in the permitted area because they are not well-behaved. I have horrible visions of a dog with muddy paws jumping up on a girl in her sparkling white dress. Thankfully, I have not yet seen that happen.

    I once saw an actual wedding take place in this same park. They set up in front of one of the memorials, and everyone at the wedding was very formally dressed. Many other people were using the park that day to walk, play fetch, and one group seemed to be trying to film a chase scene (seriously, there was a camera man and a group of people would all run towards him, go back and do it again – I saw them do this three times). I got to see the bride come out, wait for the group doing the chase scene to go back to their starting positions, and then walk down aisle with her (I assume) dad. Once the bride reached her place next to her groom, the music stopped. The minister started speaking. And I watched some guy throw a tennis ball for his dog and hit a lady sitting in the back row at the wedding.

    I had a friend who had been considering this park for her own wedding. I told her to cross it off her list.

  • LonelyHound March 22, 2012, 9:39 am

    I dealt with this a lot during college. I was a member of a ROTC detachment. Every Tuedays and Thursday morning all three of the detachments at our school would have PT on the Armory floor, which was a giant rubber track made for exercising and preforming drills, and Thursday evenings our detachment had the floor reserved for drills. The Armory was built for the exclusive use of the ROTC detachments present but during the evolution of the school and detachments it had been opened to the public with the understanding that at certain times the floor was reserved specifically for the detachments. To that end you had the ROTC units exercising along with the general public and the general public wanting to exercise while we were drilling. One group interrupted us one Thursday while we were drilling and demanded that we not invade their space. Most of us stood there shocked. I mean there were signs posted everywhere stating that on Thursdays the Armory floor was dedicated to the ROTC detachments use. My flight commander informed the group that we had a standing reservation for the entire floor until 6 pm, and they were welcomed to share the floor with us until 6 pm after which time we would leave and they could have as much space as they wanted. Whether this will send my flight commander to EHell or not I do not know, but he then said that if they chose not to share the floor with us and allow us to perform our drills as required they were invited to leave and come back after 6 pm. That was the only time that group ever gave us problems.

    I agree with the Admin when you use a public venue you must expect to bow to groups already there and groups with standing reservations. Most groups will work with another group, if that group asks politely.

  • ShinyFun March 22, 2012, 9:41 am

    Why didn’t you ask them to keep it down if they were such a bother?

  • Chocobo March 22, 2012, 9:51 am

    I’ve never heard of the Cupid Shuffle before, how did I miss this? Catchy song, I love the reference to the Lindy Hop: “where we’re known for swingin’-out.” That’s true, New Orleans/Louisiana does have a pretty big Lindy Hop scene. Nice!

  • Kitty Lizard March 22, 2012, 10:38 am

    The Dolphin Research Center, in Grassy Key, in the Florida Keys, hosts a lot of weddings. They have a little platform that goes out over the dolphin pond where the bride and groom can stand while they get married. The dolphins swim under it and watch. I was vastly privileged to watch one of the most astounding wedding spectacles of my entire life unfold before me. An friend of ours was getting married to a man that most of us couldn’t stand. He had been out to a bachelor party the night before and had gotten wasted. He showed up for the wedding late and trashed. So, the bride and groom walked (he staggered) out to the little platform over the pond. The officiant was standing safely on dry land.
    As the ceremony started, four dolphins came over just behind the platform and started eyeing the bride and groom – more particularly the groom. They kind of stood up out of the water, the way they do, sort of upright, and started chattering, eyeing the groom and then…started splashing water on him. It started slowly at first, – with the ceremony going on, but then they really got into it, and the splashing got more vigorous. The hilarious thing was, they were careful to not get it on the bride. The audience was literally in stitches. People were holding onto things to try not to fall off their seats, the officiant was trying to
    hurry through the ceremony, the groom was getting soaking wet, and the bride was laughing herself sick.
    The wedding didn’t last a year. The dolphins were excellent judges of character.

  • Lucy March 22, 2012, 10:52 am

    This could have been an acoustics issue as much as anything, in which case neither party was at fault. Some building carry sound in rather unexpected and amazing ways, and to unexpected and amazing degrees. I’ve been to functions in large rooms that will carry a stage whisper from one end to the other.

  • Chocobo March 22, 2012, 10:56 am

    KMC, in your case I think the onus is on the bride to protect her dress if it’s that important to her. She chose to go to the off-lease area and if a dog splashes nearby, well, she was the one who took the risk, not the dog. Nothing you described sounds like a faux-pas to me. Having one’s wedding in a public place like a park comes with such risks, like getting hit with an accidental stray tennis ball, having people using the walking paths (that are intended for walking) and be in the background of your scenery, barking dogs, shouting and playing children, a pick-up basketball game, and people taking pictures or filming on-location. Like the OP says, if one does not want to have such possible dangers, do not book public spaces.

  • Harley Granny March 22, 2012, 11:25 am

    I’m still trying to figure out what a glass of wine has to do with anything.

    Maybe if the downstairs group would have been asked politely to tone it down a bit in the 1st place the upstairs music wouldn’t have had to be turned up (that is bordering on passive agressive to me)

    I also think the “barging in” is a bit exaggerated.

  • Calliope March 22, 2012, 12:03 pm

    I agree with Jojo. Sure, the members of the party don’t deserve superior treatment, as the OP put it, over the dance class, but neither does the dance class deserve superior treatment over anyone else who wants to use the public space. The OP seems put off not just by the request to turn the music down, but by the fact that the party noise could be heard in the dance studio and that there was drinking going on. When you’re using a public building, you have to expect to deal with other people who have as much right to the space as you do.

  • Cat Whisperer March 22, 2012, 12:06 pm

    I think KMC’s post makes the best point about using a public space for a private function: you really have to go there, take a look at the venue in its entirety, and look at what sort of things are going on there on a regular basis. If those things are “deal-breakers” for the venue, then even if everything else looks good, you might want to pass on the venue anyway.

    My husband is on the board that manages the small local museum in our town, which also has some nice park-like grounds that can be rented for parties and events. But the museum is also right under the traffic pattern for our local airport, which has a lot of flight schools. This means that on any given weekend when the weather is nice, there are a lot of airplanes flying fairly low over the museum grounds practicing takeoffs and landings.

    Every now and again, this has caused problems with a group that books the museum grounds for an event. While the manager takes great pains to tell anyone booking the grounds that they may have to put up with airplane noise during their event, some people just don’t “get it.” Particularly if they only spent a few minutes looking at the grounds, they sometimes are shocked to find that during a four-hour event, there may be literally dozens of airplanes passing overhead.

    If you have to book a public space, you should go there during the time of day and day of the week that most closely approximate when you’ll have your event, and spend the amount of time you plan on booking observing conditions. Then talk to the person who manages the place and ask that person directly about things you observed and whether those things will be a problem for you.

    If you don’t take the time to find out about things like dance rehearsals going on in the same facility, dogs running off-leash, airplanes flying overhead, or other things that might complicate your event, it isn’t good manners to lash out at others or expect them to stop their activities because of your poor planning. That’s just plain self-centeredness and bad manners.

  • David March 22, 2012, 12:23 pm

    Kitty lizard, what a wonderful thing to have happen.

    A public park near where I live is known for a lovely rose garden, which is not fenced off from the rest of the park, so every year there may be deer depredations of some of the blooms. A bride tried to sue the park because the deer had ‘ruined her wedding’ since they had eaten a few of the rose blooms.

  • Firecat March 22, 2012, 12:29 pm

    I don’t know…the OP does say that other functions in the building weren’t as much of an issue as the specific one mentioned, and even says that the ground floor events were “rarely an inconvenience.” So I’m inclined to believe the OP’s assessment that this group was particularly noisy. Which also leads me to believe that it may not have been an issue with building acoustics.

    I’m also not seeing where the dance class’s music was turned up so it was unusually loud – the OP does say that the teacher was speaking more loudly than usual to compensate for the chatter from the party, but doesn’t appear to say that the music was any louder than it normally would be.

    Not being there at the time, it’s hard to tell, but it also seems quite possible that the fellow who made the “request” to have the music turned down may not have been particularly polite about it. Now, it’s also possible that the OP was already irritated, so the request seemed more bothersome or less polite than it may have otherwise. But it’s also possible that the guy wasn’t particularly polite.

    And I LOVE the dolphins story – LOL!

  • Stacey Frith-Smith March 22, 2012, 12:44 pm

    Forgive the deviation from the central point but I must say the comments are the best part of reading these entries- both the feedback offered by Admin and by readers. Love the dolphin story! In the case of the interloper to dance class, he should have brought a case or two of chilled Chardonnay…having dangled his own libation in the midst of other celebrants. Honestly, I don’t think OP would have been miffed if the gentleman had come in to request a courtesy instead of require an accommodation. “I’m sorry to interrupt- looks like great fun! We’re just about to have honors done for (insert name of honoree or cause) and have a speech or two, shouldn’t run more than 20 minutes. Could we ask for a lower volume for that time? So sorry for the inconvenience…we’re trying to record!”. Doesn’t sound hard, does it? Buy-in is always preceded by some mutuality…be it respect, sympathy or simple charm.

  • KMC March 22, 2012, 12:50 pm


    Actually, I agree with you. I guess I wasn’t very clear which side of the issue I was on.

    I will say, though, that no matter the situation, it is a dog owner’s responsibility to not allow their dog to jump up on anyone.

  • Kat March 22, 2012, 1:00 pm

    Regarding the wine – i think the OP might just be painting a picture here. I’m not sure why people are getting hung up on this detail. It’s not like a generic statement is being implied about all wine drinkers. We’re talking about an individual.

    Wine is probably not generally invited to dance class.

  • Ann March 22, 2012, 1:01 pm

    I agree with Harley Granny. OP’s “tone” has me wondering how egregious the intrusion really was.

    Also, as someone who’s involved in such things, I know that the fees that room rentals to outside parties generate often makes the facility viable in the first place, and possibly even keeps the fees of regular users manageable.

    It’s a win-win situation.

  • badkitty March 22, 2012, 1:13 pm

    In addition to the problem of brides (and others hosting events at a public location) not understanding that the public will still use the rest of the space, people have difficulty with the concept of renting only a PORTION of a building. In this case, it sounds like the person from the party below thought that your class was out of place and that the people downstairs were being terribly considerate even allowing you into the building but that the noise from your music and dancing was abusing their “generosity”. The OP pointed out that her class is a long-standing and regular event not because s/he is territorial, but because the class shouldn’t have been a surprise to the party downstairs. The mention of the wine paints a picture of the sort of inconsiderate, entitled individual who thinks nothing of taking a controlled substance outside of the designated area (something that could have legal repercussions for the bartender and others in charge of the party).

  • AS March 22, 2012, 1:15 pm

    First of all, I am going to go off topic a little and comment on some of the comments – it sounds weird to me when people say “bride so-and-so…” for all wedding related things. How do you know that it is the bride who wanted the photographs in the park? Or is it that only the brides dress runs the risk of getting his clothes (which might be expensive tuxes or suites) getting dirty? Planning my own wedding, it totally peeves me when a business says “brides wanting the perfect venue” or “brides looking for invitations of their dreams” etc. for things that are supposed to be common for both. There are two people in the wedding, and people don’t seem to realize that the groom would have a say on his big day too.

    Getting to the story, I am not sure how loud anyone was, hence I don’t think I can comment. But my guess would be that some functions would be louder than others, and that is something that comes with any public building. As many people pointed out, it might be a matter of bad acoustics of the building.

    I used to work in a lab in a big University. My office was on the 3rd floor and because it is a University property, the first floor mezzanine would often be given for hosting departmental parties and dinners. Sometimes, the parties got extremely loud and so bad that it would distract us in our offices. We have often told people who wandered into our floor not to talk loudly in the corridors (they are not supposed to come to random floors, because some of the labs have security risks), but unfortunately, we have no say on what happens in the first floor common area.

  • AS March 22, 2012, 1:17 pm

    Kitty lizard, I’d give up my ration of chocolates for a year to watch that wedding live! 🙂

  • vanessaga March 22, 2012, 1:18 pm

    Well if I was in the middle of a class that I paid for, I’d be put off by someone with any food or drink item walking in and telling me to keep it down. I feel that this was mentioned because it was not appropriate for a guest to ask anything of the class that had as much right to be there as he did. If it was disruptive, the host should have asked-not demanded that the volume be lowered. It would have been up to the teacher of the class to graciously comply.

  • livvy17 March 22, 2012, 2:10 pm

    @Kitty Lizard – I love your story so much. Would that I could have been there! thanks for sharing!

  • Michelle M March 22, 2012, 2:45 pm

    @Kitty Lizard,
    That story is the best thing I have ever heard! I just snorted my coffee out my nose reading it (sorry if that is an overshare)! 😀

  • Lynne March 22, 2012, 2:45 pm

    @Harley Granny. How could “barging in” be exaggerated? Either he came in, uninvited, and interrupted their performance to address the teacher — or he didn’t.

    As for the glass of wine, it may not relate to the etiquette in question, but I appreciated the detail in the storytelling. It showed that the man was part of the socializing that was occurring below, and that image in contrast to atmosphere that was created during the dance class, highlights the intrusion of one party’s “space” upon another’s.

    It *does* sound as if the building had terribly acoustics/lack of soundproofing. I don’t think that it is outside the bounds of reason to have requested that the music be turned down — it is doubtful that they would have been aware of the lack of soundproofing when they booked the one-time venue, in the same way that your class has been aware of possible interference during the many years that it has met. It just sounds as though the request could have been made in a much more diplomatic, less entitled way.

  • Lola March 22, 2012, 4:41 pm

    @Kitty Lizard, that is an awesome story! I’ve been to the Dolphin Research Center and the dolphins are such fascinating creatures. I should have gotten my husband vetted by them. 🙂

  • Ultra Venia March 22, 2012, 4:45 pm

    Harley Granny, were you there?

  • LauraW March 22, 2012, 7:17 pm

    I must be the only one who noticed in the OP that the dance class could clearly hear the chatter below after the music was lowered. To me, that means that, even though the man who complained had said that the speeches were starting, the chatter was still going on. Apparently the audience for the speech was noisier than the music for the dance class!

  • Cat Whisperer March 22, 2012, 8:18 pm

    KMC said: “…no matter the situation, it is a dog owner’s responsibility to not allow their dog to jump up on anyone…”

    I couldn’t agree more, but the unfortunate truth is that there are a heck of a lot of dog owners out there who will give you the “dogs will be dogs” or “he’s just being a dog” excuse when their out-of-control, poorly trained/untrained, undisciplined dog does anything from jumping up on someone to biting.

    This “dogs will be dogs” excuse absolutely infuriates me, because it causes problems for those of us who do train our dogs and behave as canine good citizens when they’re out in public. Most of the laws, restrictions, and prohibitions relating to dogs are caused because people can’t/won’t behave as responsible dog owners. They make it much harder for those of us who are responsible to take our dogs to public places.

    People who can’t/won’t train their dog to walk calmly on a regular leash without pulling and darting all over the place are my particular pet peeve. That’s why a lot of people prefer to let their dogs go off the leash– they never trained the dog to walk properly on a leash, so walking the dog on a leash is an unpleasant thing that they avoid by just turning the dog loose, or putting it one of these 20-foot “reel” leashes, which are almost as bad.

    When I see someone with a 6-pound Yorkie unable to walk the dog properly at heel, and they claim it’s “impossible” to make the dog walk at their side calmly without pulling or stopping, I just seethe. I can train a 1,200-pound Thoroughbred ex-racehorse from off the track to walk calmly at my side without pulling, and someone can’t train a 6-pound dog to walk correctly on a lead? Give me a break! Anyone who is that abjectly incompetent at training a dog shouldn’t own one.

    But own them they do, and when the dog goes jumping on someone or chasing kids or otherwise causing trouble, out comes the “he’s just being a dog” excuse, as if teaching dogs manners and discipline is something outrageous to expect and the person who has been jumped on or chased or bitten is at fault. It never fails.

  • Enna March 23, 2012, 10:49 am

    Does sound like the place neeeds better sound proofing.

  • Anonymous March 23, 2012, 11:19 am

    @Cat Whisperer–I mostly agree, but some dogs are harder to train than others. My family’s golden retriever is a very intelligent, obedient, sweet dog in every other respect–he knows his name, he can sit, stay, wait, come, fetch specific toys (really specific, as in, “duck” is different from “mallard duck”), and do tricks like “about” and “on your mat,” and when we say “Okay” as the release word, he won’t move until he hears “kay” (so, you can stretch out the “O” really long, and he’ll just sit, frozen in place). We also taught him to ring a bell to go outside. However, walking on a leash is, shall we say, a work in progress. He’s not a bad dog, he just gets so excited to go for a walk, that he’ll try to run when we just want to walk, and he’ll get overly friendly with other dogs, and it’s not for lack of trying. He’s been to obedience school, he’s been on many walks with family members, and he’s about eight years old. He’s improved a lot since he was a puppy, but I’m not sure how much better he’s going to get. We try our best to control him, but he’s a big dog (about 80 pounds), and he’s pretty strong when he wants to be.

  • Anonymous March 23, 2012, 11:21 am

    P.S., Of course, we wouldn’t take our dog off leash in an area where that wasn’t expressly permitted, and of course, we’d make an extra effort to control him around people dressed in formal wear, or who had a temporary or permanent aversion to dogs, for whatever reason.

  • SunGirl March 24, 2012, 12:53 pm

    My Taiji group practices in a city park every Saturday morning. When the weather is nice, there’s usually events going on, many with loud music. We would never even think of asking anyone to turn it down- it’s a public place! Sure, Katy Perry isn’t the best music to listen to while doing Taiji, but oh well- it’s better than having no public park at all.

  • Stephanie March 25, 2012, 1:55 am

    @ Anonymous (with the big Golden Retriever)
    Do you walk your dog on a harness? I’m just curious because I cared for a very strong, energetic one year old Husky for about a month and a half, she was about 60 lbs, and the first time I met her she was just leashed with her collar and she was out of control, pulling, scratching the floor, rolling around… But once we put her harness on she was, while still a very curious and exuberant dog, much easier to keep calm on the leash. Sometimes dogs just don’t respond well to pressure around their neck (well, would you?) and having a harness spreads it out across their chest so it is much gentler and they are more responsive to your pressure. Another thing is that esp with long haired dogs, people don’t size their collars correctly, and dogs end up in collars that are easy to slip out of because their fluffy hair makes their neck look bigger. My husky’s collar was too big when I started taking care of her, which didn’t matter to me as much because I used the harness but her previous owners didn’t so she could have gotten into trouble by slipping out of her collar. In fact, once on a walk with her, we were approached by an old lady with a puffball dog. I knew that my dog wasn’t used to other dogs and didn’t want her to cause a problem, so I slowed down and made to get out of their way, when the puffball slipped it’s leash and starts running right up to my dog. After the obligatory sniffing the small dog wouldn’t leave her alone and she started to get agitated, but I was able to keep her still thanks to the harness so that the stupid lady could get her stupid puffball. It would have been much harder to separate them if my dog had been jumping around like she wanted to, and given that her experience with small fluffy squeaky things had all been chew toys, I don’t doubt that she would have tried to play with this dog and been too rough.

  • KMC March 25, 2012, 9:07 pm

    AS, if you were referring to my comments when you asked how I knew it was the bride who wanted pictures in the park, and why only her dress was in danger and not the grooms tux. It’s because I was specifically talking about bridal portraits which are of only the bride. Not wedding photos. I’m not sure why the park is popular for one and not the other, but it seems to be that way.

  • Cat Whisperer March 27, 2012, 6:20 pm

    Anonymous, I agree that some dogs are harder to train than others; but “harder to train” doesn’t mean that the owner has an excuse for not trying.

    Virtually every vet can refer clients to obedience schools or private trainers who can work with a difficult dog. It isn’t hard to find low-cost (or even free) group obedience classes, and if one trainer isn’t helpful, then try a different trainer. Training animals isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation; sometimes you have to go that extra mile to find someone who can help you.

    In general, when an animal is resistant to the cues for a behavior, either the cue is not being given clearly and consistantly enough for the animal to understand what you’re asking it to do, or the correction you’re applying to refusal/resistance to obediently submitting to the cue is inconsistant or not strong enough to get the message across. Sometimes both the cue and the correction are the problem.

    It’s my experience that most people are inconsistant in the cues they give the dog for walking on the leash– you have to be very specific in cuing the dog to walk at heel without pulling, darting, stopping or changing pace, and a lot of people are just plain too lazy to to give the correct cues every single time and to apply correction for a refusal/resistance every single time. “Ah, what the heck, we’re just out for exercise and I don’t want to play ‘dog trainer’ right now,” is the attitude that a lot of owners have, and the result is that they’re never consistant about cuing the dog to heel on leash or correcting resistances. The result is the poor beastie never gets the message clearly: when you walk on leash, this is how you’re supposed to do it, and no other way is acceptable. Most dogs are eager to please if they understand what you want them to do, but the message has to be both clear and consistant. If you aren’t consistant, the dog can get confused/frustrated and will quit trying to please you, since he can’t figure out what you’re trying to get him to do.

    One way to deal with this is to use a different collar and leash for walks where he’s expected to mind and for walks where he’s just being exercised. I’m of the school that uses a choke collar, correctly fitted and correctly used, for walks where I expect the dog to walk at heel, and a harness or non-choke collar for exercise where I don’t expect the dog to walk submissively at heel. Dogs are smart enough to associate the choke collar with the handler meaning business and will behave correctly on the leash.

    Some people object to the use of a choke collar because they believe it’s inhumane, but this is just not true if it’s used correctly. A choke collar is just a piece of equipment that can be used correctly or incorrectly. Used correctly, it’s a humane way to train a dog to walk on a leash at heel without pulling or stopping or changing direction; used incorrectly, it’s inhumane and can further frustrate and confuse a dog that’s already resistant to training.

    Mostly it’s a matter of finding a good trainer who can help you figure out what you need to do to get through to a dog that’s resistant in obeying, and then being consistant in using what you learn and applying it in every interaction with your dog. There are very few dogs that can’t be trained, but it all comes down to how much effort you’re willing to put in and what result you’re willing to settle for. Most people don’t want to make the effort and are willing to settle for behaviors that aren’t very good. Which isn’t the dog’s fault, because dogs are genetically programmed to want to please their owners.