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Recall advice - just had scary incident in the park

(51 Posts)
SadEyedLady Sun 16-Feb-14 17:40:22

Hi, long time lurker here, I've just had a really horrible incident in my local park and I was hoping to ask some advice and see what I'm doing wrong.

I have a three-year-old labradoodle, very springy, lots of energy, thinks everyone is his best friend. From a puppy he has loved meeting new people, and my DH and I have worked hard on stopping him running up to strangers as I know many people are scared of dogs/don't want to see one right now thanks very much. 95% of the time he is brilliant, will come straight back when you call (he's actually less interested now that he's older anyway), it's just sometimes, and I can tell when this is, his attention 'locks on' to someone/another dog, and he rushes over, with us in quick pursuit apologising profusely. He usually runs round them in a circle, showing them his toy, only on very rare occasions jumping. Still not good enough I know.

Today I was at the park with him off the lead as he was playing fetch with the ball (his favourite thing). A young man with a pit-bull type young puppy not on a lead came walking past us about 20 m away. I saw my dog see the puppy and start to run over, I followed quickly calling him back. The man immediately snarled 'get your dog on the fucking lead' and, on my dog sniffing the puppy's bum, picked the puppy up and held it over his head by by his harness. My dog I assume thought this was a game, and jumped up (awful I know, and I was trying to grab his collar), he then said 'get your fucking dog away, or I'll kick its fucking head in', and then proceeded to kick my dog in the head pretty hard. I finally managed to grab my dog and he was ranting at me about my aggressive dog, and calling me a fucking cunt. I was pretty shaken up by this time and clipped the lead on and started to walk home, followed by this man shouting abuse at me and telling me if my dog came near his again he would fucking stab it. I left the park in tears.

I am now terrified at the thought of having to walk my dog again. DH says that man was a loon and obviously it wasn't my fault. I know my dog wasn't being aggressive, some normal doggy behaviour was misinterpreted by this man, but likewise I should be able to control my dog at all times and not be walking on eggshells at the thought of him running off. I can have 5 walks in a row where he does nothing and will always return when called, but there are these 'wildcard' occasions where he just won't listen, and the thought of seeing this man again makes my blood run cold. Obviously I know I need to get his attention before he gets too focused on whatever his object is, and I will start carrying treats and praising for immediate return. Is there anything else I can try? Still feeling so shaken up. Thanks.

RegainingUnconsciousness Sun 16-Feb-14 17:44:51

No suggestions about the dog, but I think you should report the man to the police. What an unnecessary unpleasant response.

RegainingUnconsciousness Sun 16-Feb-14 17:45:30


Rosieliveson Sun 16-Feb-14 17:49:15

I'd also report that man!
Could you look in to doggie behaviour classes near you to help work on recall?

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Feb-14 17:49:26

Report the man & maybe find a positive reward trainer to have a session with you - probably worth spending the money to get your confidence back.

Your dh is right though - the man sounds horribly aggressive

ilovemydoggy Sun 16-Feb-14 17:50:40

You need to report this man. Have you had your dog checked out? I found by having my dogs fav toy so if he didn't come back to me straight away I would call him and show him his toy 99% of the time he would come back. Just keep doing this and let him have a reward when he does come back. Hope your both ok.

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Feb-14 17:51:28

And god knows what lifting his dog up above his head every time a dog comes near will do to that's puppy's future relations with dogs

Elderberri Sun 16-Feb-14 17:51:53

The mans behaviour was bad, no excuse.

But it's the the rule in parks if they allow the dog off the lead is that the dog should be under close control, it is not ok for dogs to run yo and jump up on others.

I am a dog owner of many years, I obey rules, my dog is on the lead when on the street, my dog is lousy off the lead in parks so she stay on.

Also these dogs are alway getting bad press, if his dog had mauled yours you might be singing a different tune.

BrianTheMole Sun 16-Feb-14 17:52:33

Police. Definitely. Why haven't you done it already?

Morgause Sun 16-Feb-14 17:54:41

Keep your dog on a lead in future. Then there can't be a repeat.

SadEyedLady Sun 16-Feb-14 17:55:10

I'd love to report the man, but honestly can't remember much about what he looked like other than dark hair and a track suit. I think I will try some more classes - our dog walker is also a behaviourist at Battersea and has done some training with him before. I definitely need to feel more confident with him.

RescueCack Sun 16-Feb-14 17:55:41

If he has unreliable recall he should be on a lead in parks. Sorry you were spoken to like that though. brew

SadEyedLady Sun 16-Feb-14 17:58:58

I do put him on the lead often if I see other dogs coming, I didn't see this one though as it was through trees. Should I expect to have 100% control over him before I let him off the lead? Is it normal to be able to get him to recall every single time? (Not had a dog before so I'm not sure what's normal).

mrsminiverscharlady Sun 16-Feb-14 18:15:06

I don't know a single dog with perfect recall. Most are good about 90% of the time, some 95%, some 99%, but all have their moments! Don't know whether I just know an unruly bunch of dogs and slack owners!

Having said that it's probably about 18 months since my dog ran off - a mixture of improved recall and getting good at reading his body language. I can tell when he's about to 'go dog' as we call it where he appears to forget that he's a domesticated animal and follow his nose and instincts! There are still situations when I wouldn't trust him at all though and he stays firmly on the lead!

SadEyedLady Sun 16-Feb-14 18:52:21

Ok, we'll I obviously need to keep a much closer eye. It'll be on the lead and working again on recall for now...

WimbledonDogs Sun 16-Feb-14 18:54:40

Firstly, these incidents are always traumatic. Be kind to yourself and accept that it will take weeks, or even months, to rebuild your confidence.

Once you begin reviewing events, you might find other reasons and explanations. For instance, if the puppy was deliberately being raised to become aggressive, the owner certainly wouldn't have wanted it to have a good experience around another dog. The puppy may already have shown aggression to another dog and the man over reacted to avoid a repeat. Remember, aggression is often a result of fear for both people and dogs.

Try and walk somewhere else, or with a friend, while you are getting over the trauma.

You can sharpen up the recall, but being realistic, the average pet dog owner doesn't necessarily have the time to aim for a 100% reliable recall and there are many variables to take into account.

If you work with a trainer, make sure your needs are being met as well. You will need your confidence rebuilt. Pick one that understands people as well as dogs (many don't).

A good trainer will suggest changes to the dog's lifestyle, help you to motivate your dog, sharpen up his/her obedience and renovate your relationship with the animal.

Be kind to yourself and make allowances for the shock for the next few days. If you have a decent sized garden, you can substitute the walk exercise with ball throwing in the garden.

Your brain will process events while you are sleeping. In the morning, it won't seem as bad.

NigellasGuest Sun 16-Feb-14 19:00:55

just to say, Poor you that sounds absolutely horrible, I hope you are ok and also your poor dog after that dreadful man kicked him thanks

bakingtins Sun 16-Feb-14 19:03:14

The man sounds horrible and his response totally disproportionate to what happened.

We've just got a new dog and until her recall is 100 % and I can predict how she'll react in any situation I'm only letting her off on a trailing 5 m line (lightweight puppy or recall training line) so I can grab the end if she won't come back. worth a try to give you more confidence?

thedogwakesuptoodamnearly Sun 16-Feb-14 19:05:40

But isn't the "rule" that if you don't want your dog approached, it should be on a lead? So the man's puppy ought to have been leashed, as a signal to other owners.

Do you have park wardens, OP? Might be worth having a word with them if you do, others might also have had problems.

Hope you and Dog bounce back soon x

Gooner123 Sun 16-Feb-14 19:26:59

That bloke was complete scum,sounds to me that your doing everything right,FFS it's what dogs do,go & have a sniff & hello.
Try not to let it get to you too much,just keep an eye out for that twat & give him a wide berth.

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Feb-14 19:34:12

Yep thedog seems to be the 'rule' in our local park. Dogs on leads are not to be approached, dogs off leads are happy to have other dogs come up to them.

Agree with the comment about getting a people person trainer - someone who will reassure you as well.

nuttymutty1 Sun 16-Feb-14 19:38:00

The mans language was inappropriate but your dog was totally out of control so the incident was your fault.

I totally disagree that dogs can not have 100% recall all of mine do and if they did not they would be on a long line until they did. If your Doodle charged up to my dogs and would not leave them alone I too would ask you to remove your dog.

Dogs DO Not go and have a sniff at other dogs, it is what poor owners let them do. The dog could be blind, deaf, have stitches etc it is not up to owners to ask to be left alone. Dogs should be invited to play not just assume they can.

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Feb-14 19:46:20

My dog doesn't approach other dogs as he's too interested in his ball (& has good recall anyway) but in 3 years of going to local small parks it's definitely seems to be a 'rule' that unleashed dogs are happy to be approached while ones on the lead are not to be approached. Doesn't always work like that on the beach as I find owners will let dodgy-with-dogs dogs run around in the larger space. But the parks seems to be the case.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sun 16-Feb-14 19:46:33

So nuttymutty1 I take it your dogs have never been socialised with other dogs and never let off the lead to play? Of course dogs sniff at each other! What a ridiculous thing to say. I always put my dog on the lead if I see another one approaching on its lead but if it isn't then I don't bother. They have a sniff, say hello, have a play, the owner and I have a nice chat about our dogs and everyone goes on their way happy. Surely that's normal? confused

Gooner123 Sun 16-Feb-14 19:53:27

That's what I call normal ilovemydog

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