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Attacked by a large German shepherd on our walk (no physical injury)

(51 Posts)
newme175 Wed 21-Feb-18 13:49:27

Arghhhh.... I have been dreading something like this happening since becoming a dog sitter and have been reading do’s and dont etc but feel so unprepared for what happened sad
This thread is just to vent and also to seek some further advice on what to do when/ if this happens again! I’m still a bit shaken...

Just do not drip feed, I have had dogs all my life, grew up with them. We do not have our own dog yet as not sure if we are ready for the commitment it brings. But I have had a very successful small boarding/ dog walking business for the last 6 months, and had a variety of different dogs come to stay with me, so plenty of dog experience.
I am not scared of dogs at all, and don’t have problems with any particular breed.

So this morning I was taking lab on our walk, it’s a very nice quiet woods/ park but I still keep her on a long leash as she is not mine and I don’t want her running off. All is well, we having a wonderful walk and the dog is good with other dogs we meet. I spot this huge German shepherd staring at us up the path, cannot see the owner, but there is a bend so I think they not far behind. The GS starts charging towards us, I stop and get the lab close, I could see straight away that he was not friendly and for some reason took dislike to my dog. It started to circle jump and growl, loudly bark at us, I was moving around so would always face it, ie turning around on the spot so GS cound not get behind us. With the lab between my legs.
At this point there’s a lot of noise as GS barking and growling viciously, the lab is also now barking back trying to defend us. I keep shouting NO as loud and in as deep voice as I can. See the owner and scream at him to call his dog back. He calls him back, the dog goes back for a second and then keeps turning back to attack us again. He did that quite a few times whereas the owner just calling him and not coming to get him.

Is this because the owner thought if he got close the dog would attack more??

Eventually what feels like absolute ages he manages to call the dog off and shouts to me if I’m alright. I can’t remember what I said to him to be honest as I just wanted to get away and his dog still wasn’t secured on the leash!

I’m so shaken and angry, it’s only pure circumstance that the lab was not bitten, I do not think GS would have bit me, as he only seemed to want to go for the dog but I cannot be 100% sure. GS had these massive balls, largest I’ve ever seen on a dog so an entire male. I’m so angry as we were literally moments from a massive dog attack/ stitches and vet involvement, if GS managed to get to the lab! It makes things worse that lab is not my own dog as all I could think about what would I say to the owner sad I am fully insured but that’s not the point sad

What Can I do better in the future? My husband said to carry a walking hiking stick from now own? If I see the man with GS again I will have a go and tell him to muzzle it, that is if the dog doesn’t attack us again and I can actually speak. I read to throw treats to the attacking dog, there was no time to reach in my pocket and anyway I don’t want to TREAT it! I’m due to go on another walk in an hour but still a bit shaken from it...

Any experiences?

ZivaDiva Wed 21-Feb-18 14:04:47

Whilst I can understand that you were scared, you were not minutes away from an attack, if the dog was going to it would have done. You would not have been able to stop it so try not to be too shaken up. Dogs do not try to attack and fail but something obviously freaked this other dog out.
Try and look at it as the dogs having a bit of a shouting match. Very scary for you but if it wanted to bite it would have done. Doing a bit of research on dog body language will help avoid and deflect events like this happening again.

newme175 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:12:19

How could I have avoided it, I could see by GS body language that he wanted to attack us. Hair up, charging towards us, growing and barking?

newme175 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:13:41

Also I have been researching how to deflect, one site said to throw treats to the attacking dog. I had no time to reach in my pocket.

Tara336 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:15:19

If the German shepherd was going to attack he would have done so straight away. Personally I would have carried on walking away towards the owner and tried not to show fear. However, I appreciate easier said then done sometimes. The owner was irresponsible he should have come to your aid straight away rather then just stand calling his dog. It is scary (I have a small dog who can’t defend himself)it does make me angry when people don’t control their dogs and can see they are being annoying

newme175 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:17:09

And I was shouting NO to the other dog.
Could you please elaborate on your last sentence as this is the sort of help I’m looking for smile @ZivaDiva

newme175 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:23:04

Honestly I’m not dramatising, as I had a few dog shouting matches and had to separate mild dog fights. This was very different, I think I’m not explaining it very well.

@Tara336 I felt if I was walking the GS would have got hold of the lab, also we couldn’t move forward as GS was charging at us and biting/ growling etc... And I did not want to expose side/ back to him

mustbemad17 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:28:52

I think trying to downplay this is ridiculous. Just because the dog didn't attack doesn't mean it wasn't bloody scary & actually had the lab tried to defend & managed it you might have had a fight on your hands.

I had a dog that hated other dogs near her, but always got bombarded by off lead dogs. In the end I started carrying either a slip lead or a stick, depending on where I was. Often just blocking with the stick makes owners shift their arses - obviously don't have to hit out with it but chest blocking works great. Or a slip lead if you're confident enough to hook the offending dog. Then march it back to its owner & tell them to get a bloody grip 😡

BiteyShark Wed 21-Feb-18 14:34:00

OP that sounds awful and it's one thing I dread walking my own dog as he's very submissive and tends to be bullied by other dogs so if one wanted to attack him I don't think he would stand a chance sad

And I have for various reasons been sat in the emergency vets and have seen a few dogs come in with their owners having been attacked and it must be an awful feeling for them not being able to protect them.

No advice OP but just want to sympathise with you.

missbattenburg Wed 21-Feb-18 14:34:55

These situations are always shit so when I write few pointers of what I would have done differently, I am in no way saying you SHOULD have reacted differently - if that makes sense.

Shouting: I try never to shout because it just adds extra tension to an already tense situation. Instead, I try to speak in a confident, firm, bright voice and greet the other dog but also tell it to stay down - even if it's being a barky little bugger. What I want both dogs to take from the situation is that I am not in any way worried. The last thing I want is the other dog thinking I am a pushover or my dog thinking I am scared.

Food: I agree about not chucking food. Not because I worried about treating the behaviour (I don't think aggression is influenced like that) but because food tends to add extra stress for the dogs.

Balls (the dogs): an entire male does not mean it is intrinsically more aggressive than a neutered male. In fact, I've seen studies that suggest neutered males are more likely to display non provoked aggression than non neutered males, especially if they were done early. I say this partly because I have an entire male and feel the need to defend him but partly because seeing the balls on a dog can make people assume it will be aggressive and so act differently towards it or subconsciously gives signals to their own dog that they are worried.

The other owner: I find asking in very specific/clear terms for them to leash the other dog (rather than just call it back) works better and if they don't act quick enough I add "because mine doesn't like other dogs" which normally works - mainly because they start to worry what MY dog might do. I very quickly stop worrying about being polite and start barking orders and just accept I will feel like a rude bugger for the rest of the day smile

I don't think a stick would do anything but make the situation worse, myself. You are unlikely to be able/prepared to hit the other dog hard enough to do anything but antagonise it further.

I try also to remember that dog fights are almost always bluster with little real contact and what can seem like a massive fight often leaves both dog unharmed, if a little shaken. I say this as someone whose dog was once skinned (literally) by another and required late night emergency surgery and several months recoup - so I do know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the rare occasions when contact and damage occurs.

Chin up for your next walk and the next dog needs to trust you are confident and happy so they can enjoy their walk.

p.s. I say again - these scenarios are rubbish and I feel for how shaken up you must be xx

newme175 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:35:22

Probably should have but “altercation” rather than “attacked” in the title. Don’t know how to edit it....

But it certainly felt like an attack, not just a dog shouting match especially as the lab was totally taken aback and only responded back after the GS was going at us for awhile.

Slip lead is a good idea, I don’t know if I could have held the GS though as he was large and yes the walking stick just to block. I was not going to hammer the GS with it!

Tika77 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:38:47

Shouting can fuel things further, try not to do that. And also please don’t reward the attacker with treats. I hate it when people shove treats at dogs for nothing. Also dog can have food agression. Noone should give a treat without owner’s permission.

It must have been a scary experience.

mustbemad17 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:40:00

Nope no need to lash out, but can help keep seperate. Also I tend to find as soon as the other owner sees you holding the dogs apart with a stick they tend to suddenly rush over (although do be prepared for an initial ear bashing of 'don't hit my dog' 🙄)

Lettucepray Wed 21-Feb-18 14:40:19

Get some pepper spray and spray it in the stupid dog owners eyes and also the dog if it attacks! I really hate dog owners like this who are irresponsible and stupid!!

newme175 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:41:32

Thank you, I’m off on my walk and will come back to this thread later for more advice. Also I have reported it to change the title!

mustbemad17 Wed 21-Feb-18 14:42:07

Pepper spray is illegal in the UK - I think even using it on a dog would potentially get you into some hot water

ZivaDiva Wed 21-Feb-18 14:42:53

I was not trying to downplay, it is very scary but learning about why this sort of thing happens is more useful. We don’t naturally speak dog, dogs do and will mostly try and avoid a fight unless they. have no choice. In your situation I would probably turned and walked away.
For whatever reason this dog perceived you as a threat so walking away would diffuse things and is an appropriate response to the other dogs verbal warning.
If you google dog body language there are some fascinating articles on line.

MrsDilber Wed 21-Feb-18 14:49:00

I'm really scared of dogs. I'd have literally shit myself.

Lettucepray Wed 21-Feb-18 15:03:58

Don't care if it's illegal, someone attacks me, human or canine gets sprayed! I have been attacked by a dog....never again!

mustbemad17 Wed 21-Feb-18 15:30:14

Police officer suggested deoderant instead - you can reasonably explain having it in your bag & it hurts like a bitch

ZivaDiva Wed 21-Feb-18 15:52:23

To a dog that’s barking at you? What an evil thing to do.

BiteyShark Wed 21-Feb-18 16:00:10

There is a big difference between a dog barking at you and this

also we couldn’t move forward as GS was charging at us and biting/ growling etc

ZivaDiva Wed 21-Feb-18 16:09:38

I still think if it wanted to bite it would’ve done. Respect the warning and walk away. I’m not excusing the owner, he should have been able to recall the dog away but I still think spraying a dog with deodorant/pepper spray for that is horrid. If it was actually injuring then it’s different but barking/growling and even snapping is a warning which would be foolish to ignore but will not inevitably lead to a bite as it didn’t in this case.

mustbemad17 Wed 21-Feb-18 16:10:34

Ziva just to clarify i didn't suggest the pepper spray! But given it is illegal i wanted to pass on what i was advised by a police officer. Altho if a dog did attack me & i had it handy i might be tempted

mustbemad17 Wed 21-Feb-18 16:11:56

Personally I would never turn my back on a dog that was snapping even a warning, especially if i had a dog in my care. Made that mistake & learnt the hard way!!

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