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Anxious new dog owner(18 Posts)
Dd and I have decided to get a dog the only thing is I've never had a dog before and I'm absolutely terrified of dogs fighting. I am, on the whole, comfortable being around dogs, but the minute they start barking and doing that warning growl...it just sends me into a panic. With smaller dogs (which we'd get) it's easier to separate them but I'm so nervous of a big dog attacking a small dog, that I'm scared I won't be able to protect it. Any advice?
I have a small dog 6.6kg.
Barking and growling is dog communication so if you're going to have a dog you really need to get used to it.
My dog's breed is known as a yappy breed but I've trained her so stop when I tell her it's enough or to calm down - both used in different circumstances and both work.
Growling is a different thing and is generally used as a warning that a dog isn't happy or is stressed. Dogs should never be told not to growl as you need to hear their warnings.
Dogs don't tend to get into fights on a regular basis and yes dogs can be attacked by other dogs but if you're going to get a dog you can't spend your whole time worrying about it.
My dog has had a couple of dogs get a bit nasty with her over the years but never anything serious and has never been in a fight.
IME you either freeze like a rabbit in the headlights or a sort of mama bear instinct kicks in and you leap in to pull the dogs off each other. Personally I fall into the latter category (and once you've done it a few times it becomes second nature). The only time I got bitten was because I was in plaster and trying to separate two terriers with one hand 🙄
PigsDoFly has some sound advice. I'd also read up on dog body language (start with the Ladder of Aggression) as that will allow you to recognise when both your own dog and other dogs are becoming uncomfortable with an interaction, which in turn helps prevent scraps.
If you walk in parks that have lots of dogs at popular times of day, you'll find that the dogs in there are invariably dog friendly, because you'd have to be a masochist to take a dog aggressive dog somewhere like that. I'm actually much more cautious about dog interactions if I'm walking at a funny time of day (eg very early or late) or in an area with few dogs - those are the places and times that owners of dogs with ishoos opt for. Ditto if the dog is on a lead (especially a short lead in a big park) or if they look like they're trying to avoid me and DDog.
It's worth noting that dog scraps that are very noisy usually cause no damage because you can't bite and growl loudly at the same time. It's the quiet fights that cause damage because they are clamping down. I've seen (broken up) a few noisy scraps with no injuries but never even seen a quiet one.
I too was a new dog owner, having never owned one before and being a bit wary of them. But, I really wanted a dog. I am a fairly timid person, but am amazed at the sound that comes out of me when my dog is under threat! She has been attacked several times in her 7 years, not seriously, though one would have been had the other dog not had a muzzle as it had her on the ground and was going for her stomach! Terrifying.
That said, nearly every dog she meets is friendly. She used to be fearful of lots of other dogs, she would stand and bark at them, but now, she just bumbles about, quite often says hi, but other times is not interested.
You need to kearn a bit about the warning signals dogs make and give, and learn when you need to step in. If we are out walking and another dog is coming toward us with rolling shoulders and licking lips, its not happy and is preparing itself to defend. We have had a dalmation run up to us with its teeth bared, but it was actually grinning at us!
Having her, however, has definitely helped my confidence.
Thank you all! Sage advice. I'm hoping to go walking with my friend who has dogs so that I can gain some confidence and then hopefully we'll be getting spaniel soon!
Please don’t get a small dog and be super defensive of it and scared of bigger dogs, that sounds like the recipe for creating a fearful and thus snappy dog. I have a big softie I mean dog and he is generally only growled at by terriers, Frenchies etc. He has also only been attacked by small dogs. I’ve met too many owners who say their small dog is defensive because they’re scared- well socialise them and develop their confidence! Owners picking up their little dog the moment they are uncomfortable can make the dog feel like they can growl and snap whenever they like. SOrry, not meant to read like such a diatribe but when you said you’re worried about big dogs starting fights, thought I should point out the other perspective!
Thanks cyberwarrior, I guess this is what I'm scared of...I really don't want to be one of "those" dog owners!
I agree with Cyberworrier.
Don’t box yourself in the premise that big dogs aggressive, small dogs safe.
Watch every dog, observe the owners, anticipate.
Fights really don’t happen often and most dogs you will meet will be friendly, but you have to watch them all the time.
I have a spaniel and he is the soppiest thing going. He drops onto his belly whenever another dog approaches him and drags himself across the floor until he's close enough to say hi. We haven't taught him to to it, it's just what he does!
Other spaniel we've seen at the park aren't as submissive as him and I always worry bigger dogs will go for him cuz he's on the ground but if he's ever felt intimidated he'll outrun the other dog, no problem.
Walking with your friend sounds like a good idea OP!
Lots of ddogs are noisy bleeders. They make noises for so many reasons. Please make sure you're no longer scared of this and can see and understand the differences before you get your own, or you could set up/exaccerbate reactions in your ddog, which it sounds like you're trying to avoid.
Phone round some local breeders to see where there are spaniel breed club meetups going on, where you can hear ddogs interacting and watch them managed - they will also be able to recommend some breeders to you and be able to tell you good/bad traits to look for.
Some ddogs make a lot of noise when playing enough to even put off the ddog its playing with; being able to tell the difference does make all the difference. Its about more than the noise, so all the clues need to be known and looked for.
Yeti its a lot less likely your spaniel would be attacked whilst submitting. Is he still under a year? As once they reach maturity they would normally stop that puppy behaviour and stand to meet maturely and quietly. If hes a rescue it could be for lots of reasons, but its a lot safer than the opposite which can bring an aggressive response from the normally unaggressive ddog.
Smotheroffive - nope he's 2 now and we've had him since he was a puppy. He's just really submissive 💁 I'd rather that than the alternative though!
Agree with what Cyberworrier says about a small dog.
You need to be able to accept that they have got to learn to be around other dogs and not be picked up every time another, bigger dog comes near them. It can be difficult at times, like the time we had three large dogs running at us and trying to jump on my dog, but you learn to judge a situation and tbh if you're likely not to be able to let a small dog be a dog then it's better to go with a slightly bigger breed.
You also need to train a small dog in the same way you'd train any other dog. Small doesn't equal cute if the small dog is out of control and has no manners.
It's a good idea to be around dogs and see how you feel about their behaviour so good idea to walk with your friend and the dogs.
Maybe a good idea to go to some breed shows and get a feel for different types and breeds of dogs.
On a practical level, and to help you feel more in control, if it's a small dog you are thinking of getting, have a look at Ruffwear Webmaster harnesses. They're not cheap but will let you pick the dog up and out of a situation as they have a handle on them. We have one for walking and picking up DDog over styals, gates etc however DDog is a feisty little terrier and when he gets the "terrier stare" at things like pigeons, squirrels and cats, I've picked him up to snap him out of it.
People laugh too as he gets a proper annoyed look on his face and I just joke it off saying "he's my new Radley handbag" 🤣
Picking dogs up is often a bad/rookie move in terms of trying to break up a dog fight, it often exacerbates the situation and can bring an aggressive dog towards you.
Yes, very appropriate for a smaller dog fixated on a bird or cat though.
Hi again, I thought I'd just update you all, we have added a lovely little poodle-cross rescue to our family and he's settling in so well. He's a really gentle soul, and loves going for walks. He has separation anxiety but that's okay as he doesn't get left alone very much. He's very submissive to other dogs but wants to say hello to most of them. He does a bit of a weird thing where he puts his tail down (not quite between his legs) when other dogs come to sniff, and sometimes just sits down so they can't sniff. But when we walk on to give him the option of moving away he doesn't always want to come. It's like he wants to be there but doesn't quite know the etiquette of saying hello. But luckily every encounter so far has been positive!
He does a bit of a weird thing where he puts his tail down (not quite between his legs) when other dogs come to sniff, and sometimes just sits down so they can't sniff. But when we walk on to give him the option of moving away he doesn't always want to come.
My dog does this and he can be a bit selective about other dogs. He does not like every random dog coming to greet him. Won't do it all the time, but sometimes. So just be aware. Watch your dogs ear and eye position. If their ears tilt back slightly and eyes avert, they are indicating that they are stressed.
Ddog got attacked a few months ago and whilst he is still generally tolerant of most dogs, he is not quite as quiet about making it clear he isn't up for being sniffed, mostly if the dog makes him feel threatened by getting right in his space.
That's great mouse!
Really happy to hear you've got your dog at last. He sounds lovely.
I have recently heard about this course in dog body language.
Can't vouch for them personally but the trainers have excellent reviews online.
Could be useful for you?
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