Feeling a bit shaken - just took our 2YO standard poodle out for a walk and came across a group of dogs who she's played with before. Shouted, can we join you, they said yes, I let her off the lead. 30 seconds later, she and a smaller dog (I think a pitbull?) are growling and biting at each other. Myself and the other owner pull them apart and everyone puts their dog on a lead. Both dogs are fine although the pitbull looks a bit shaken. Mine is worryingly unfazed. I took her home immediately and I think she knows she's in the doghouse.
I didn't see which dog started it but have a sinking feeling it's mine. She's usually absolutely fine and adores playing with other dogs, but in the last few months there's been about two occasions where she's snapped at another dog - usually one that's as big or nearly as big as her. She's never so much as barked at a human and is actively scared of most people she's never met before.
Does anyone have any advice? I'm worried that we're going to become pariahs in our little dog walking community, which would be such a shame as my dog loves playing with other dogs so much. However, obviously if this is going to happen more frequently I can't let her play around other dogs for fear of them getting hurt.
As a bit of background, we got her when she was 7 months old - she'd been living with her elderly breeder and the last few poodles in her litter. She was smallest and weakest of them and extremely nervous when she came to us.
Please help - I don't know how to stop her getting into fights without removing her completely from other dogs on the off chance...
If you are really worried I would suggest getting a qualified behaviourist to observe her behaviour. They should be able to give you an insight into why she's doing it and offer some suggestions on the best way of dealing with it.
Try the APBC or CAPBT to find someone suitably qualified in your area.
Thanks guys, really appreciate the advice. I think I'm going to see if we can afford a behaviourist (around here they seem to start from about £200 for a one hour session!) Talking to some RL friends who suggested that spaying may work as she was fighting with a female dog in the presence of a male dog, and I seem to remember the last fight was with a female. It seems a bit drastic, but we'd intended to have her spayed at some point (lots of un-neutered dogs around here) so I guess we might just do it sooner rather than later...
NCIS Thank you for saying it's not that big a deal. The reaction of the other dog owner sort of implied that mine was Satan's spawn so maybe that's colouring things. No damage was done but it was a prolonged snap, with growling etc. I also live in one of those Stepford estates where everything's supposed to be hunky dory (moving in the next few months hopefully!) and I'm worried that other dog owners will decide not to let theirs play with her after this incident.
Dog language is not the same as ours, a snap and growl can just mean, back off I don't like what you're doing. If a staffie type dog really didn't read the dog language then there would be blood drawn. It sounds like a pissed off but not serious interaction but I am not an expert just a long term dog owner.