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Bad experience letting puppy off the lead- did I deserve the ear-bashing?

(30 Posts)
lecce Fri 16-Aug-13 17:36:43

Puppy is about 4 months old rescue lurcher (probably X with GSD). I have been doing recall training with her and she is pretty reliable so I now let her off in my local park when it is quiet. Each time someone comes, I call her back and have always been successful so far. She loves other dogs but jumps at them and gets wildly excited so I don't think it fair to let her off around other dogs atm, though most local owners encourage their dogs to 'say hello', which is nice.

Today I let her off while the park was empty but didn't notice someone coming while I was picking up her poo. I was distracted for less than a minute and then heard someone yelling, "Get this dog away!" and generally shouting. They were all behind trees so I started calling her and she came on my third or fourth shout.

The other owners were a couple with a staffy on a lead. The man started shouting at me that I was stupid, was lucky my dog was not dead, his dog would rip it to shreds in seconds, my dog was out of control etc etc. I apologised and the woman said, "It's not that but he's been had four times in this park!" which seems to imply my pup is dangerous, which is ridiculous as she is about half the size of that dog and clearly not aggressive. She then said I should keep pup on a lead 'at all times' and they left, the man still shouting 'stupid bitch' and 'lucky to have a dog left' etc etc.

It has really shaken me up and I feel unsure what I should be doing. You can't practise recall without letting them off and she did come back to me on this occasion, though not first time. Part of me thinks they shouldn't have a dog they believe capable of 'ripping' puppies to shreds - surely dogs can tell if an annoying dog is a puppy and act accordingly? Though I do admit they did have their dog on a lead and I did lose concentration for a few seconds.

I have been a dog owner for the last ten years (as well as growing up with a dog) but never had my own puppy before. It's making me feel like a real novice dog owner and that I'm not sure what I should be doing sad.

fanoftheinvisibleman Fri 16-Aug-13 18:01:35

Hmmm honestly? I have a one year old dog who ignores me in favour of another dog. I am not superhuman and I have made the odd slip up but I don't let him off if I can see anybody at all, even on the horizon. And if I slip up then I don't shout until he comes, I physically go (asap) to retrieve him.

But sadly, it does mean he has to stay on lead alot when I would love to let him off. But I consider his crap recall our problem not other peoples so we have to be the ones to sort it. Not that I'm saying its ok to call you a stupid bitch.

Try a trailing line you can leave on the floor to stand on. It would work for us but our local park is a really popular country park so too busy even for that. I have to mix it with better walks on a weekend or going early/late sometimes. I also walk him as much as I can with others and hope he grows up eventually!

I wouldn't dwell on it though, whats gone has gone and tomorrow is a new day smile

Karbea Fri 16-Aug-13 18:09:08

Did the other dog have a muzzle on?

I agree with the trailing line, I kept my pup on one for quite awhile, he now runs off the lead in a very secure field near us, his recall is nearly always perfect, but not always and often another dog joins us for a walk when theirs isn't so good. Don't worry about it, I'd imagine their reaction was because they are stressed about their dangerous dog sad

tryingtocookacurry Fri 16-Aug-13 18:15:41

I second what the 2 posters below said and suggest that you practice recall on a long lanyard. This is what I did with mine.
However, if that mans dog is vicious enough to "rip yours to shreds" then it should have a muzzle on.
Poor you, it must have really shaken you up! They really didn't need to react like that.

PersonalClown Fri 16-Aug-13 18:18:30

Honestly Lecce??

Ignore the arsehole that gives all us decent Staffy owners a bad name.

His dog would rip it to shreds in seconds Lucky to have a dog left

Stupid fucking ignorant wanker just perpetuating the 'Devil dog' image that Staffies have.

Any decent owner would know that it's a slip up/lapse in judgement/training.

Try not to worry about it.

binger Fri 16-Aug-13 18:21:12

As a dog owner you will have spats with others. My rule is that my girl goes back on lead if I see a dog who we do not know and they are on lead. If they are off lead then it's fair game. My dog was a very bouncy pup and personally I think the interaction with other dogs is one of the best learning tools for pups. They get a proper telling off from other dogs when they are ott and it's funny now to watch my girl to tell younger dogs off.

Be vigilant in the park and get to know the other dog owners locally, but enjoy yourself. I'm friends with loads of dog walkers and we all love to gossip and chat about the latest drama happening between dogs and owners arguing etc, it always blows over.

MagratGarlik Fri 16-Aug-13 18:25:30

Some dogs are fear aggressive and do not respond well to an unleashed dog approaching them especially if they are on the lead (and therefore can't get away). If their dog has been attacked before, it most likely will be fear aggressive, deciding to act in defence before the other dog attacks. This is not a reflection of whether they think your dog is aggressive, I'd suggest it was intended as an explanation as to why their dog might be.

Everybody makes mistakes and it can be easy to lose concentration for a while, but having a fear aggressive dog, I also know how awful it can be trying to control your on-lead dog when approached by on over-friendly off lead one.

Finally, don't use a long line or extending lead with lurchers or other sighthounds. They can accelerate at such speed that it can cause serious damage to their long and delicate necks.

maja00 Fri 16-Aug-13 18:26:40

To be fair, it sounds like their dog has been attacked before and is fearful - they are being careful walking it on a lead and an unsupervised, excitable dog runs up and starts jumping up at theirs. That is a super stressful situation for them, so not totally surprising the man overreacted.

BinarySolo Fri 16-Aug-13 18:34:37

Ok so technically their dog was under control whilst yours wasn't. However, massive and rather dickish overreaction on their part.

Unfortunately there are some complete cretins in this world and some of them are dog owners. I had a similar incident where a man shouted at me because his dog pulled I get at my dogs who were off lead. I apologised for my dogs 'being a nuisance' , but in reality the problem was his dog. Mine showed no interest his and just trotted past. He then threatened to 'let his dog off' next time. Total prick. Should have reported him for threatening behaviour.

ThunderboltKid Fri 16-Aug-13 18:52:35

I can definitely see both sides here. My springer was a bouncy pup and annoying to other dogs, but is now fear aggressive and likely to attack other dogs. I walk her constantly on a lead so she doesn't need to be muzzled and we are constantly training her under advice of a behaviourist. Every time someone lets their out of control dog approach us and upset her it puts us back a undoes so much hardwork.

Picking up poo was our weak spot as well but I trained out pup to come and sit while I was dealing with it; maybe work on that?

Don't worry about it too much, but do try and understand why they reacted as they did (though the language was definitely uncalled for!)

mrslaughan Fri 16-Aug-13 18:57:30

Mistakes happen - you have the best intentions, but you slipped up.
I have a year old dog, whose recall was amazing, but he will now ignore in favour of another dog, so I am very careful where I let him off, and am super vigilant of dogs on leads...there is often a reason they are on a lead, ie an aggressive dog.
So you had the best intentions, but you slipped up, ignore the abuse, apologise when you do slip up, and move on.
Some people are just plan nasty.

Floralnomad Fri 16-Aug-13 18:58:59

You were most definitely in the wrong but the chap did overreact ,perhaps as others have said he's had problems in the past which have made him over sensitive . Personally I don't see why his dog should be muzzled if its on a lead and under control .

ChippingInHopHopHop Fri 16-Aug-13 19:08:03

I think they panicked and took it out on you. Try not to worry about it.

You made a slight mistake when you took your eye off her when you were picking up her poo, but it's one of those things... and really not a big deal.

She came on the 3rd/4th call - so pretty good for a puppy excited to see another dog.

They should have a muzzle on their dog if there is even a remote chance it would attack - on a lead or not, the onus is on them.

As long as you are confident your puppy is safe where you let her off (ie no roads she might run into) and you keep being vigilent then carry on as you were and don't let it upset you.

lecce Fri 16-Aug-13 19:17:03

Thanks for the replies.

I do see I was at fault, but the man was so verbally aggressive it was horrible. I would hate to run into them again, but probably will as I have seen them around before.

It's so hard, this puppy business. I have been looking at training videos and the advice seems to be to slowly introduce more distractions when doing recall training. I can't do that without letting her off in parks so there are bound to be 'slip-ups' during training, aren't there? She is pretty much solid with it at home, and even comes away from things she enjoys when called, so I thought it was ok to start trying her out in quiet outside places. I am doing it in stages - we have just come back from the beach and no way would I have let her off there, much as she looked at me pleadingly!

Just to be clear, I did go to get her - I didn't just stand there calling but called while going to her. She came to me before I got to her. I was thinking of getting one of the long leads, so disappointed to see they're not suitable for lurchers.

tabulahrasa Fri 16-Aug-13 19:21:20

Yes they overreacted, but honestly I can see 1 yr old has been attacked 3 times now by offlead dogs while he was on the lead, I've lost count of the amount of times offlead dogs have just done a bit of growling or posturing and while he's taken it all in his stride and is still happy to see other dogs, I know other owners haven't been so lucky with their dog's reactions, when it's happening regularly some dogs become scared of approaching dogs.

Mine also has no recall and is one of those rude bouncy friendly dogs, lol, so he's on lead around anyone I don't know...your puppy did come back, but you might want to think about using a long line for recall training if you're walking where there are other dogs about.

Hmm. He was out of order for the language and reaction, but as others have said it is hugely stressful having a fear aggressive dog. And when you have yours on lead and are doing everything right, having another dog run up and there possibly being an unpleasant episode can be really frustrating. Yours might have been the third or fourth dog that week and he might have just had it. That said, everyone makes mistakes, so don't beat yourself up too much. Just try and lead your dog if you think he might approach others, and if he disgraces you again (likely! grin) just apologise sincerely and fetch him back.

Floralnomad Fri 16-Aug-13 22:33:26

Long lines are safe for any dog providing they are used with a harness ,they should never be used on any dog with a collar .

Scuttlebutter Sat 17-Aug-13 00:11:33

Another one here saying you should chalk it up to experience. The man was very rude, and I acknowledge this was upsetting. But I will say, like others, that if you have a reactive dog and are walking it quietly on the lead well away from other people, the annoyingly bouncy off lead pup with no owner to be seen in a half mile radius will bring the red mist down.

It sounds like this was a one-off, and hopefully you won't have to deal with them again. Hope you are Ok now - that must have been very upsetting.

MelanieCheeks Sat 17-Aug-13 07:45:51

I can sympathise - I NEVER let my 2 off lead in a public place now, due to this sort of thing happening. Which is a shame for them, but I have to err on the side of caution.

I remember one day being reduced to tears when my dogs - who were both on leads at the time - were sniffing and playing with another dog. And its owner grunted that I should keep my dogs under control! I was so upset by that one, I hid behind a tree, had a cry, and took the dogs straight home.

littlewhitebag Sat 17-Aug-13 08:21:01

I really feel for you as my young lab is the same. For some reason she can have a quick look and sniff at big dogs then come away quickly but small dogs like jrt make her hyper. No idea why. She isn't aggressive towards them but she gets extra excited around them. Her recall is much better now but like you, if we are distracted for a moment she can be off. I tend to walk her early in the morning and in quiet places or totally on lead in the town.

topbannana Sat 17-Aug-13 14:51:18

In answer to your question, yes you were at fault but no you did not deserve to be spoken to like that.
Your dog was not under control and approached another dog on a lead. She did not recall immediately to compound this. There was however no need for the other owner to speak to you like he did, however annoyed he was.
I have always trained recall with an extra "what's this?" command. Find something your dog is wild for treat wise. Liver is good but if she likes it, the squeeze cheese in a tube is best as it can hang around in your pocket without smelling! Then say "what's this?" and give this special treat. The treat is only ever used with that command and that command is not given without that treat being available so the two become intrinsically linked. The good thing with the cheese as well is you can get hold of the collar while the dog is still slobbering round the tube. Any sign that she is about to take off and you give the tube a quick squeeze to squirt a little more cheese.

moosemama Sat 17-Aug-13 15:36:42

Imo and as someone who used to have an extremely reactive, fear aggressive large breed, I think you made a genuine mistake and took your eye off the ball for a second and I doubt there's an owner on here that hasn't taken their eye of their pup for a second and regretted it at some point, after all, we're only human.

Having been there myself, I can understand the seeming over-reaction of the other owner, although there's obviously no excuse for foul language or aggression. When you have a dog that is reactive and another dog bounds up to it, without an owner in sight it does make you panic and you can tend to be snappy with the owner when they eventually catch up. However, as others have said, if their dog really does have the potential to attack another, it should be muzzled in public and they need to work on their people skills when it comes to dealing with the fall-out.

Finally, yes you are absolutely right about increasing distractions etc and yes, you do need to give her space and freedom in order to up the ante - but - with control. Therefore you do need her on a long line until she is as near to 100% reliable as you can get. Something like this or this is what you need. Again, as others have said though, you need to use it with a harness, not a collar.

The idea isn't to let her go and then jerk her back, but to stop her going before she revs up to full speed, hence preventing, rather than correcting recall failure. Otherwise you end up with the flexi-lead syndrome of the poor dog suddenly getting flung backwards with no warning.

There's an awful lot more groundwork you can do at home to reinforce recall as well. I have recently bought and would recommend the book Total Recall which has training programmes for both puppies and older dogs and gradually builds up each level of control before moving on to higher distractions etc.

Please don't feel bad, I have had dogs for over 24 years now, have lots of experience etc, but am still feeling unsure and lacking in confidence when it comes to my new boy, who came home a week ago. I'm pretty sure even top trainers and experienced handlers have off days and drop the ball occasionally, the important thing is to learn from it and move on.

Turniphead1 Sat 17-Aug-13 21:15:40

Topbannana - I love your idea of an extra "what's this" addition to the recall. I have done the Total Recall training - and it's excellent. But great idea re cheese in a tube. Very smelly lovely treats end up with me being my mugged by my dog/ other dogs.

moosemama Sat 17-Aug-13 21:40:16

I also love the squeezy cheese idea. In fact I was just telling dh about what a great idea it is.

I get mugged practically the minute I enter the park, as I'm the only person round here that always has a pocketful of liver cake. hmm

I think Lurcherboy would love squeezy cheese, but can't use either that or liver cake with our new pup, as he's on a special diet at the moment. Strictly fresh chicken for him. Eurk, greasy fingers. hmm

topbannana Sun 18-Aug-13 01:10:53

Turnip I figure that "what's this" is my get out clause in vase of emergencies. Thankfully I have always had greedy dogs and now have infinitely biddable dogs that want to be with me. I do however remember in my early dog owning days how I would have offered my body been really chuffed if someone had let me in on this little gem grin

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