I train guide dogs. This requires me to be very specific with what they can and can’t do when “on the job”.
Actually, I generally expect a lot from the animals I work with (while still being fair), because I know they are smart.
But at least every other day, someone tells me: “Oh, they’re dogs! They can’t help smelling everything!” I think to myself, smelling is not a conscious thing they “do”. My dog can smell by sitting politely next to me – no need to pull on the leash towards something and almost kill their blind owner in the process.
It’s called manners. I find that people who think their dog can’t control themselves are insulting their dogs! They seem to think their animal has no sense of self-control, but they do. You could train a dog to walk over a carpet of bacon out of the oven, just as well as you could teach a child to walk through a candy store without unwrapping every candy.
My point is to not dumb-down your animal because they’re “an animal”. They can have manners! Dogs don’t need to pull towards another dog “because they’re dogs”! Every dog has the ability, the balance, to walk calmly and politely to greet another dog. I don’t sprint up to strangers and tackle them to the ground and neither should my dog. In fact, in a pack, that kind of behavior would not be tolerated – only humans seem to think that’s normal.
Politeness is a balance that animals naturally have. It’s just when a human takes a hold of the leash that the dogs says, “She’ll make an excuse for me! I’m a cute puppy!”
So dogs do have a strong ability for self control. Of course this is relevant to all animals – my horses are just as polite. Just like kids, they know they can get away with certain things, but that doesn’t mean they can’t understand it if you explain to them why they shouldn’t.