The wind was blowing hard and Juan Valdez, our Golden Retriever, still needed to be taken for a walk. I put the Belgian Malinois puppy, Gidget, in the exercise pen and then locked up the house.
Juan and I started on our walk and about a half mile down the road, we engaged a man who was admiring another neighbor’s garden. Me, Juan and The Man were standing around shootin’ the breeze when a woman walked up with a 7 year-old Black Labrador.
The Lab was pulling on the leash, and he came toward us. The Man jumped in front and started playing kissy-face with the woman’s dog.
Fine. Kiss a strange dog. God only knows where his mouth has been. I won’t even kiss my own dog, except on the cheek.
I had Juan Valdez on a sit-stay next to me, as The Man started talking with the owner of the Black Lab, who proceeded to ignore her own dog. That’s when the Lab started pulling toward old Juan.
She let her dog get too close, nose-to-nose.
“My Golden Retriever is dog aggressive,” I say.
The woman replies, “Is my dog okay to play with yours?”
I say, “Your dog is nose-to-nose with mine. My dog is aggressive.”
She stands there and does nothing, makes no attempt to pull her dog away.
Me: “Do you know what ‘dog aggressive’ means?”
She looks at me with a blank expression, doesn’t say a word.
I say, “It means he bites.”
Still no response.
“That means: You need to pull your dog away, now.”
Dogs are easy. People are stupid.
The truth is: I have perfect control over my own dog, but I can’t control a stranger’s dog. And I have no way of knowing whether a stranger has control over her dog, or even if her dog may be aggressive toward other dogs. Once you start taking your dog around town, you’ll never go long before hearing the expression, “Oh my gosh, my dog never did that before!”
Protect your dog. The best way to do it is by teaching your dog to listen to you. The second best way is to maintain situational awareness and do not be bashful about stepping up and controlling the situation if needed.
The dogs are easy. People are stupid
Reader Catherine adds:
I had to laugh when I read “you’ll never go long before hearing the expression, ‘Oh my gosh, my dog never did that before!'” A neighbor has two blue heelers that for years were the terror of our neighborhood. They tore into a husky that had to have stitches, they bit a jogger, we’d seen them go after people on bikes and people pushing baby carriages, and their attacks on our own young German Shepherd-mix (Maya) turned her from being friendly and curious to one that’s dog aggressive and afraid of everything. And every time, the owner said, “They’ve never done that before!”
I’m the one who finally called the dog control officer after talking to the owner failed, but I was left with a fearful, neurotic dog — you could literally see her changing with each attack, and her fear grew to encompass nearly everything. It’s taken 4 full years of working with her to get her back to some semblance of being normal. In fact, she and I are a registered therapy dog team, because she’s good with children and the elderly who are in wheelchairs or bed-ridden, but she’s still very fearful of most people and somewhat dog aggressive with the dogs in our neighborhood. Although I continue trying to help her with her fear, I don’t know if she’ll ever really get over it.