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Dog Walking - a WWYD Thread(17 Posts)
I have had my lovely rescue dog for 4 weeks. The rescue noted that he has poor recall when distracted so he is walked on a lead in populated areas and on a retractable lead in the forest/open countryside. I use the retractable lead to practice recall, calling him to my side, touching his collar and/or locking the lead short when we approach blind intersections, other dogs, roads, animals, etc (and he’s getting bloody brilliant at it too <proud>) He is an older dog who was never really socialised, but we have had some very carefully managed introductions to other dogs (both on leads) and he has done brilliantly.
However, since I have had him, he is constantly jumped all over, followed and even attacked by off-lead dogs. I suspect it’s a combination of his breed (smallish, super-furry and not very dog-like) and the signals he sends to other dogs. We are seeing a behaviourist tomorrow, who I will ask about this, but I am keen to hear what other dog owners think about what the general etiquette is in the following situations. I think I have correctly understood what I did right/wrong on some, but not others. The devil is probably in the detail, so I’ll post each separately in some detail and would love to hear what experienced dog owners would have done...
Incident 1: Off-lead Labrador recalls beautifully when owner sees us coming and sits by owner’s feet. I thank owner as we pass and say my dog is friendly but has poor manners and recall. He says his dog is very calm and not at all fazed by poorly mannered dogs and would my dog like to say hello? DDog is in that very calm and mellow end-of-walk-zone so I say yes, release the retractable lead and tell him he can say hello. DDog is very calm and polite, approaches from side etc, takes turn for bum-sniffing, all good. The greeting goes over 3 seconds, which I later discover is considered the magic number for greetings. The Labrador gives a sudden growl, jumps on him and takes him to the ground, and pins him on his back holding him by the neck. DDog is fine and I don’t think Labrador intended to kill him or anything. Owner is shocked and apologises profusely, his dog has never done anything like this before. I suspect that my DDog has done something rude in doggy language that we have missed and decide to avoid all future on-lead/off-lead introductions, however nice the dog and owner are.
Incident 2: Walking along minding our own business when a puppy starts to approach behind us. Out of breath owner can be seen running in the distance calling out. We continue to walk until it is clear that the puppy is catching us up. I stop and stand back a bit with the extendible lead unlocked so DDog can greet the puppy as naturally as possible. Puppy bounds up, they sniff, DDog turns and continues walking down the path. Puppy continues to follow and bound around as puppies are wont to do. DDog continues to ignore. We are now nearly at the road and I realise that puppy is going to follow us and probably get flattened. Owner is still too far away to reach us in time so I stop and get DDog to sit. Puppy jumps all over DDog. Poor DDog growls a very gentle warning as I make futile attempts to grab wriggly puppy’s collar. Owner catches up and apologises. It is then I realise that the owner was shouting “stop” at me not at the dog! I think in this instance, when I saw the road ahead I should have turned 180 degrees and headed back towards the owner? I think this may have been less stressful for my DDog than sitting whilst the puppy jumped all over him?
Incident 3: This is the awful one. We are walking along a narrow path that exits onto a big field. As we near the end a large dog (German Shorthair Pointer I think) appears, then lays just in front of the entrance to the path, sort of horizontally across it, but looking back down the field, presumably to its owner. I get DDog to sit and wait for the owner to catch up. Owner appears, lead in hand, but big dog is now slowly approaching us. The meeting is inevitable but to my naive eye he looks very calm, so I release the lock on DDog’s lead so he can step forward to where the path widens and avoid a face to face greeting. They sniff politely. As this happens the other owner is apologising and saying she thought there was no one else around and, as they start to sniff, “my dog is not good with other dogs”. Obviously, I immediately call DDog who, like a little darling, turns and starts to come back to me. He takes about one and a half steps and big dog takes him down. No growling or warning, just starts shaking him by the leg and the neck. I honestly though he was going to be killed. Owner struggles to get him off but, thank God, does. DDog has minor puncture wounds and a severely bruised leg that he couldn’t walk on for days. I suspect the other dog saw him as prey. It was terrifying.
Incident 4: Our first foray back into the woods after incident #3 and a man with 2 small dogs approaches in the distance. He manages to put one dog on a retractable lead, but the other is running towards us and going to reach us before he does, so I stand to the side, release the button on the retractable lead and let the introduction happen. All goes well and after they have each had a quick sniff, DDog turns 180 degrees and starts to walk away, back down the way we have already been. He’s had enough. I consider making DDog continue walking and passing the man, but his on-lead dog is at full lead extension and all over the place and I don’t want them both jumping over DDog, so we go back down the path. Off-lead-dog follows, clearly wanting to play. Off-lead-dog steps up his game and starts jumping at DDog. We are now at the end of the path. Owner is still a way away and off-lead-dog is clearly going to follow us until he is put back on the lead, so I get my DDog to sit and gently hold off-lead-dog (who is clearly just poorly mannered and not at all aggressive) by the hook on the top of his harness until his owner appears. I have to release him when his owner approaches as his on-lead-dog is clearly over excited and I don’t want him jumping all over DDog. Owner seems pissed off with me, I think he thought I should have kept walking past him. I think he is a twat, but say nothing.
Thanks in advance and well done if you've read them all!
Incident 1: as you say, must have been an invisible signal from your dog to Lab. Odd, one of those things.
Incident 2: have had this happen, bloody annoying, can't do right for doinf wrong, don't sweat it. My rescue with slightly shit recall would have kept on walking whilst puppy bothered her, then sat down and refused to move whilst puppy bothered her, then possibly growled a warning. Usually by the growl stage the puppy will get the hint and go away and/or the owner will have caught up! Good idea to walk back in the same direction to meet the other owner although that's annoying in itself when you want to eventually get away from the other dog.
Incident 3: sounds awful. The only thing I'd say here is that if I was approaching a dog lying down across a gateway/entrance point with no owner immediately in sight or recalling, and that dog was very big, I might have switched direction rather than face the meeting. Dogs lying down are sometimes in the crouch/attack pose.
Incident 4: Again, this one just sounds like an annoyance and an owner who's a bit rubbish. You could call out in that situation I guess, something like "I won't pass you because my dog's not great with others" and ask him to recall his dog?
By the way, did the owner of the super aggressive dog apologise and stump up for vet fees? I would have been tempted to report her also. Hopefully she won't let her dog off again but she probably will without an official warning. Her dog was not under her control AND she knows it is "unfriendly".
Blimey where do you meet these nutters! You are doing all the right things apart from being way too polite and just legging it away from these people!
You have read the situations well and it would have been better to avoid them or remove your dog quickly from the situations rather than meet and greet.
Only meet and greet with dogs that you already know are suitable playmates for your dog. Do not trust the weird strangers . At times this is hard as you will have to about turn , leg it or call owners to get their dogs away from yours. Your responsibility is to your dog - they need to get training!
Also do consider where you walk your dogs and at what time. I avoid popular dog walking spots like the plague. My dogs are fine with other dogs but I can not be arsed with some of the owners and lack of training that you can see. My dogs deserve a relaxing walk and not to be hassled
Incident 1 - I would put money on it being the lab and not your dog.
When I am out and about it seems to be generally understood that if your dog is off lead and you see a dog on lead approaching you recall your dog and put it back on the lead. If your dog is off lead and see another dog off lead approaching then if either of you leash the dog then the other follows suit. If your dog is off lead and you see other dogs off lead that you know then you don't need to put the dog on the lead. Following this seems to mean that there are nice greetings and avoids any bother between dogs and owners. It appears that you have been pretty unlucky.
Thank you for your answers, they go round and round in my head (particularly the attack ) and it’s so helpful to get views from people more experienced in such things.
I laughed at “do not trust the weird strangers”!
@NoSquirrels the other owner was devastated. She hasn’t paid yet, but exchanged numbers, and so far she has offered to pay the excess my insurance. It’s not worth me making the claim, but I have legal cover so if worst comes to worst we’ll have to do that. She said her dog should not have been off the lead, but really believed they were all alone and I don’t think she was aware that the path exited there.
I have also wondered whether what I saw as a placid under control dog was really stalking my DDog. I think if we’d have turned at that point he’d have chased him, but it would have given me time to kick him back or pick up my DDog (know you’re not supposed to but don’t care) or something.
I walk him in various spots across a massive forested area and various spots across two massive heathland type areas. I would say we only come across dogs every other walk unless in a busy area. I am starting to realise that the busier areas might be better, as dog owners expect to run into other dogs on those walks. All 4 incidents above have been on the quieter walks where we don’t usually meet anyone.
@OverFedStanley has solved it! I was walking him in the wrong places. I’d been seeking out remote spots so I could practice his recall skills without too many distractions. It occurred to me last night that those areas are probably magnets for owners with dogs who are reactive and/or have poor recall, as you can walk for hours without seeing anyone else.
Today we went to a more popular walking spot. Not busy, we saw about a dozen dogs over 1hr 20mins, but in an area heavily used by most local dog walkers.
Not one single problem. Well socialised and well trained dogs with good recall and lovely owners.
Interestingly, we are deep in Labrador country, but most of the dogs we saw today were small ones, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are avoiding the wilder walks too.
Personally, I never ever allow leashed greeting. Ever.
So, if your dog is always leashed I would never let him greet, focus on getting him to calmly heel past.
When it comes to off leash dogs, I don’t allow her to approach the following:
- dogs lying down because as a pp said, they are often poised ready to leap up and attack
- boisterous dogs, the sort that race over from the other end of the field and jump all over and hump the other dogs
- dogs that appear in any way tense and/or still, If I see a dog standing quietly looking at us we keep well away, ditto for raised high tails and stalking type walks, starey eyes.
- groups of dogs
Thanks @Fuckandflowers, that’s a useful list to keep in mind.
I have had some useful tips from the behaviourist too.
Fingers crossed for some very uneventful walks!
I think the other owner in incident 2 should have kept their dog on a leash if their puppy was so bad at recall. It's not the puppy's fault, they have to learn these things and until then they need to be under the owners control. It's a bit like a toddler having no road sense, which is why parents keep hold of their hand/in a buggy/using reins until they can safely do these things independently.