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Are there ways of protecting my dogs when we're out?

(39 Posts)
TheHappinessTrap Fri 31-Jul-15 11:52:10

We took a walk earlier and a nothing little event left me unsettled.

I keep my girls on leads, they are small/medium sized friendly, non-aggressive dogs who would willing approach most people and dogs for cuddles. Approaching us from the opposite direction was a large dog, also on a lead. I've learned about how to watch the dog and owner for signs that they should not be approached and I respect these rules. They displayed some of these signs, at maybe 50 feet away, so I called my dogs close to me. I had them sit thinking we would be still and wait until they passed. There was plenty of room, etc., and I was just giving them a cuddle while keeping my eye on the other dog. As the dog neared (this is still 15/20 feet away) the owner made me feel less confident that she really had control of him. He was growling low and pulling and she was a slight woman kind of digging her heels in trying to keep control while calling his name in a voice that left me very much not reassured. She got him stopped and went to put his muzzle up and she actually let go of his lead for a moment. A part of me wanted to believe that she thought this was ok because he was so well trained but I hadn't seen other signs of that so I thought it best to move my girls out of sight and we calmly went into a little alley nearby and waited for them to pass. The owner at this point decided she didn't need to muzzle.

Reader, that's the end of the story. Everything was fine. Only it left me really anxious about how I would have protect my girls if things had turned out differently. For the rest of the walk I kept an eye out for this other dog to make sure we didn't re-cross paths, but how would I have protected them at close range? I thought through a few options, discounting them, and deciding the safest thing to do would be to cover them with my body taking the damage myself until the owner got control.

Clearly I don't find that a comforting or great resolution to my worry! How have you or would you protect your dog should another dog take offence at them?

BoutrosBoutros Fri 31-Jul-15 12:15:50

This is a constant problem for me. My pooch is small and quite submissive and of often bullied by big dogs with ineffectual owners. I also often have a toddler and baby in a sling so it's worrying. I don't see what we can really do? People are dicks and they don't control their dogs! I try to stay calm and ask for what I want 'please keep your dog away, my dog doesn't like that' etc etc. it's worrying though!!

ancientbuchanan Fri 31-Jul-15 12:18:12

If you are concerned, have you looked at yellow lead? Or round us putting a yellow ribbon on indicates you don't want them approached.

TheHappinessTrap Fri 31-Jul-15 12:48:05

Ah, I hadn't thought of that Ancient, that's an idea... but I don't want my dogs to lose out on good safe socialising and cuddles.

God, Boutrose, that would be a worrying state to be in. Is your pooch small enough to pick up? Mine are 15kgs each so I wouldn't be able to shift them quickly without hurting them. One of my girls gets sniffed at more than she likes but has a plucky way of turning toward the sniffer and wagging which is when I step between them if the owner doesn't call them back.

It never occurred to me to try talking with the woman, which now I think of it must have been another sign because usually I have a good handful of chats with the dogs/owners we pass by. I will say something next time, even if it's just to ask if my dogs are safe.

pigsDOfly Fri 31-Jul-15 12:49:55

Don't really know what to suggest except being wary, as you clearly are.
I also have a small dog and so many times she's ended up, tail down, on the ground screaming because a large dog has rushed her. Asking people to call their dogs off frequently doesn't work because apparently 'he just wants to play', yes but my dog is screaming and clearly doesn't want to 'play'.

Had this the other day, getting out the car to go into park, family coming out with lab/retriever type dog who was trying to get to my dog and was being held back by the collar by a child of about ten who was really struggling with him; child's mother pushing a buggy looking a bit worried explained, referring to the little girl 'she can't control him'. Well then, don't let her have charge of him, stupid woman (I didn't say that, just thought it).

I've also had 'he's not friendly' when someone's off lead dog has growled at my dog. Yes, I can see that, so keep him on a lead in the park.

But walking around with a muzzle in your hand and putting it on, or not, when you see another dog, pretty much takes the biscuit.

I think you probably did the sensible thing by trying to get out of the dogs sight. And yes, protecting your dog by holding it to you is deemed unwise for obvious reasons, but like you OP I have done exactly that. I think instinct to protect something you love kicks in a you just react.

Not sure what you can do about idiot owners, just try to avoid them I suppose but it doesn't make for a relaxing walk.

Floralnomad Fri 31-Jul-15 12:57:52

If there was plenty of room to pass I really don't understand why you stood still and waited as surely that gives her dog double the time to get wound up whereas if you had kept walking the whole meeting would have been over in seconds hence not giving the other dog as much time to think about your dogs . So in future my advice would be keep moving ,quickly. Incidentally why do your dogs not go off their leads ?

icensliceplease Fri 31-Jul-15 13:00:44

This makes me think of the silly cow who's 2 dogs nearly knocked me and my son off our bikes yesterday.
They did it twice - running up and growling and snapping at our heels. confused

When challenged, the owner merely merely started shrieking

''Dogs Will chase bikes you know! They will chase bikes!''

Duh, no they don't always chase bikes.
We met lots of dogs in the woods that day and they were all well behaved and had good recall.
It was only your badly trained, out of control dogs who were 'chasing bikes - you know'

And if you have a dog that's going to run up to other dogs and people and be aggressive, then it should be on a lead, or muzzled or both.

Great topic, OP.
I will be watching with interest.

(by the way, I'm not a dog hater - I am a dog owner and she doesn't chase bikes

icensliceplease Fri 31-Jul-15 13:03:30

I've also had 'he's not friendly' when someone's off lead dog has growled at my dog. Yes, I can see that, so keep him on a lead in the park.

Makes my blood boil.
If an aggressive off-lead dog comes up to my dog (who's on a lead), then what is the point of saying ''he's not friendly''

That's no good when a dog fight starts.
Stupid people.

GraysAnalogy Fri 31-Jul-15 13:11:34

I think you just need to communicate with the owner.

My dog LOVES other dogs. All he wants to do it play, but his body language can make owners scared at first so I can see them getting wary so I always just say 'he's friendly, but I'll wait here if your dog is nervous'. I really appreciate if an owner asks me if he's okay, or friendly, rather than panicking and crossing the road or standing there waiting for me to do something (what I don't know)

It's funny because despite people thinking he's the scary dog, it's always the smaller dogs that bark and go for him grin

icensliceplease Fri 31-Jul-15 13:14:38

small yappy dogs are like small yappy people. grin

GraysAnalogy Fri 31-Jul-15 13:19:15

^Makes my blood boil.
If an aggressive off-lead dog comes up to my dog (who's on a lead), then what is the point of saying ''he's not friendly''^

Same. I was at the park the other day, had my boy on a lead because I could see other dogs and wasn't sure what they'd be like. A beautiful little staff came running over to my dog, my dog was fine, waggling and wanting to play. Staff looked wary. Owner comes running behind the dog and I said it's okay, mine is friendly. he turns round and says 'mines not' hmm well why have you allowed him to run up to my dog and why aren't you leashing him now you're near me?

Truth be told the staff didn't do anything, it was only young it seemed like it just needed socialisation.

homebythesea Fri 31-Jul-15 13:24:00

I would have said "if your dog needs to be muzzled he should be muzzled throughout the walk not just when you come across another dog"

JohnCusacksWife Fri 31-Jul-15 14:03:34

To be honest I think you made the situation worse. If you'd simply put them on the lead and walked quickly past the other dog the whole thing would have been over in seconds.

As for what you could do if your dogs were attacked I'm afraid I can tell you from bitter experience that it will happen so quickly you won't have time to react. My dog was attacked from behind by a GSD. It was lightning fast and there was nothing I could do except scream at the dog and its owner until the dog decided to stop.

CrabbyTheCrabster Fri 31-Jul-15 14:13:11

My dog LOVES other dogs. All he wants to do it play, but his body language can make owners scared at first so I can see them getting wary

It's funny because despite people thinking he's the scary dog, it's always the smaller dogs that bark and go for him

If his body language is pushy/in-your-face and enough to worry other dog owners, then I'm not surprised that smaller dogs feel intimidated and defensive around him. My small dog strongly dislikes big, boisterous dogs who get in her space, ignore her body language and 'only want to play'.

Mutt Fri 31-Jul-15 14:17:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MuttonCadet Fri 31-Jul-15 14:22:49

I wear walking boots or sturdy wellies, if a dog comes for either of mine I kick and yell.

The number of badly behaved dogs off the lead seem to be increasing.

GraysAnalogy Fri 31-Jul-15 14:23:05

It's not "pushy/in your face" at all.

What I mean by body language is when he sees another dog he stops all of a sudden and looks intently. Owners take this as some sort of defensive sign, dogs obviously know differently.

I say no no playing, he comes to heel and we then walk past them, and the little dogs go hell for leather barking at him. He acts like he's deaf and blanks them.

Or in other situations the owners will say, it's okay they can play, and I allow my dog to go closer, they have a play and thats that.

GraysAnalogy Fri 31-Jul-15 14:33:35

I did some reading on it and apparently its down to socialisation. Smaller dogs are more likely to get away with being yappy and aggressive because people see them as this little dog who's intimidated and just being vocal and can't do much harm anyway.

Whereas if people see a bigger dog barking, and going for another dog it immediately gets peoples backs up, people have no choice but to train or people recommend muzzles etc.

My dog has never barked at another dog whilst I've had him, I wouldn't tolerate it anyway. He's a bulldog and it would be scary for both owners and other dogs. But the majority of small dog owners we come across think it's hilarious seeing their smaller dog bark and strain their lead trying to get at mine. Even then 'ha thought bulldogs were supposed to be hard look at my little lad giving him what for' hmm

TheHappinessTrap Fri 31-Jul-15 14:49:00

That's the word I couldn't find in writing my original post, I felt vulnerable Mutt.

The reason I stopped is because of the radius her dog had access to. It wasn't an extendable lead but she was getting pulled about a bit randomly. It would have left us too near him with the possibility he'd lurch, whereas pulled over as we were kept us as much out of his space as possible and gave him more room to pass while keeping me near the alley to exit if need be with a gate that can cloose. To be honest the whole event only took a mere handful of seconds and probably wasn't a real event but there's a lot of detail because of the concern it raised. I just felt vulnerable. Doesn't help that I have occasionally had dreams of harm coming to them!

Mutt and John, sounds like you've been through terrible experiences. You have my sympathy. You didn't say how your dogs were after the attacks?

TheHappinessTrap Fri 31-Jul-15 14:52:46

I haven't meant to imply that my dogs are yappy. They aren't. They bark irritatingly at cats and at what we call the ghosts in the garden but that's it. They do wriggly bodies and other happy submissive stuff when they merry dogs and people.

GraysAnalogy Fri 31-Jul-15 14:55:57

Oh no TheHappiness I didn't mean to insinuate yours were, I ended up on a bit of a tangent about my dog being barked at. I'm sorry blush

I don't blame you for being nervous. But really, a bit of communication can work wonders. Half the time we're using guesswork aren't we, trying to fathom out the body language of both the dog and the owner. Hope you feel okay now.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Fri 31-Jul-15 14:56:22

On the odd occasion that I met the 'my dog's friendly' brigade I just used to say well mine isn't so you'd better put yours back on the lead. The odd huffy look was better than risking a fight. He probably wouldn't have hurt anyone but he could get a bit snappy at unwanted intrusions.

GraysAnalogy Fri 31-Jul-15 15:02:19

Who's the 'my dogs friendly' brigade? confused Is it wrong for people to have friendly dogs and tell you so? It's perfectly fine to not have a friendly dog and tell people so and that your dog needs more space, but no need to have an attitude about it.

CrabbyTheCrabster Fri 31-Jul-15 15:02:39

Fair enough Gray, I see what you mean now. It's the dogs that rush her and bounce all over her that really upset her. The ones that stand stock still and watch her with lowered head make her nervous because that is sometimes a precursor to the rush. Not always, though, sometimes as you get nearer they'll give calming signals/lie down/rush past you instead. grin

GraysAnalogy Fri 31-Jul-15 15:02:55

And if your dog is 'unfriendly' what are you doing about it?

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