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Dealing with an unsocialised dog and idiot owners on walks?

(9 Posts)
Empusa Mon 13-Jun-11 13:30:50

We've recently rehomed a dog, he's a real sweetheart, very friendly and (usually) obedient. Unfortunately he was badly neglected by his previous owner though and so he is not in the best of health and has never ever been socialised. Which, bearing in mind he is 12 years old and been with the previous owner since he was a puppy, means it's going to be a long process before he's comfortable around athoer dogs.

We've finally got him to a point where he is just about comfortable with being in the same park as other dogs, and doesn't freak out if he sees them at a distance. However he really hates having to go anywhere near other dogs, and will whine, growl, bark and snap at them if they come near.

Normally this is manageable, as most other dog walkers are sensible and don't walk their dogs over without checking he is friendly.

As I'm sure you've all experienced though, some dog owners aren't that clever. And while we have a fair bit of control over him, there is only so much we can do when off lead dogs come sprinting over and refuse to respond to their owners (that's if the owners even try and call them back).

Last week we had one idiot let his two off lead dogs not just run up, but leap at our dog, myself and my husband. So of course our dog isn't just scared, but he's also desperate to protect my husband and me. He didn't even attempt to call them back, let alone come and get them.

So how on earth do we deal with situations like this?

Obviously I don't want our dog to get hurt, neither do I want him to hurt another dog. I also worry a lot that someone will try and report our dog for being violent.

We are taking him for training, but obviously it takes time. We've got a lot of bad habits to untrain.

Scuttlebutter Mon 13-Jun-11 14:05:48

I sympathise entirely. We have an elderly greyhound bitch with similar issues who has arthritis, and has been hurt/frightened on a number of occasions by dogs whose owners come out with the immortal line "They are only trying to be friendly" as their huge lump of a dog cannons into ours and then puts its big, muddy feet all over us as well.

There is no easy answer. How we've managed it is to establish which of our local parks/Forestry Commission areas have the worst/best form in this regard, and ruthlessly avoid those parks with loads of off lead dogs. Life is simply too short for this type of stress. We have a fairly regular time for our dog walks and we find over time that we get to see/know the same dogs/owners - in time, they will come to know you and your dog's behaviour/preferences. Generally, this works fine and for 95% of the time, we have peaceful walks, until you have a new dog in the park, whose owner doesn't know the ropes.

I believe you can also get hi-vis vests (similar to those worn by riders with young horses) saying "Caution;Dogs in Training" or something similar - that might be an idea?

It also helps to tweak the time of your walks. We find the park is heaving at certain times of day, and deserted at others, so try to avoid peak times where possible. Generally this means going either very early in the morning - around 6.30 to 7, just before the pre-work walkers, or late morning, say 11.30 after the main peak between 9 and 10 - though I don't do this in the summer so much as it gets too hot. Early mornings are great in the summer - cooler and nicer for dogs and owners. We're also lucky in having some pretty quiet Forestry areas and a nice bit of quiet coast near us where we can walk peacefully - it is worth winkling out those more peaceful spots.

Good luck.

Empusa Mon 13-Jun-11 14:14:28

We've been adjusting our walk times to avoid the worst offenders, the good weather recently has brought out a lot of new dog walkers unfortunately.

This morning was lovely, in the rain only the dedicated walkers will venture out!

Scuttlebutter Mon 13-Jun-11 14:17:44

yes, my favourite dog walking times are wet mornings in term times, in February when it's deserted in the park. Utter bliss. We can let all the dogs off (a rare treat in a park) and relax.

minimu1 Mon 13-Jun-11 14:22:35

6.30am New Years Day is my favourite time of the year ever to walk dogs! With or without hangover smile

Empusa Mon 13-Jun-11 14:24:09

I bet that is good!

So far our favourite day was the Royal Wedding, everywhere was deserted! We could even let the dog off the lead for the first time!

Scuttlebutter Mon 13-Jun-11 15:37:27

Minimu - AWESOME!! I salute you and your stamina.

Empusa, just thought of another idea - which is what many greyhound owners do (including us).

See if you can find either a well fenced field or what's better, an indoor riding school and have some off lead play there. Indoor schools are perfect as they have nice soft footing, very high secure walls so are completely escape proof. For greyhounds, these are often advertised as greyhound playdates - ours love them as they can run around as much as they like without worrying us, or anyone else.

Many riding yards with indoor schools are happy to hire out the school for a n hour especially on a weekday when it is quiet.

Spamspamspam Mon 13-Jun-11 16:32:27

Scuttle - what an excellent idea! I have been on yards for many years but none have offered this, I think I will mention it to a few yard owners!

Empusa Tue 14-Jun-11 06:32:30

I shall have to check that out, could be really good smile

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