Plea to new puppy/dog owners or those contemplating being one

(8 Posts)
mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Mon 19-Aug-19 12:58:59

Yesterday I was walking my dog down a long wide grassy path to a popular local beauty spot. It was full of weekend visitors (I live close by), so some dog owners I had never seen before. Just ahead of me was a young woman with a little staffy cross puppy (she later told me it was 10 months old) and coming in her direction but about 15 feet or so to the other side of the path from her was a couple, who looked in their 40s, and some middle-sized children. The woman in this group had a black retriever-cross-type puppy on a lead. It was about same age as staffy pup and a bit taller. I was still out of earshot but saw the staffy owner exchanging some remarks with other group and then bend down and let her pup off to rush over to the black puppy. To my great distress (and even more his), black puppy wasn't at all happy about meeting staffy pup (who was wanting to play and was very friendly) and was TERRIFIED. Tail tucked tight between legs and practically cowering, black pup kept running (as far as lead would allow) behind the woman holding it and hiding behind her legs. Staffy pup would back off slightly (perplexed) and then black pup owner would draw it back in front of her again and this repeated a couple more times. All the while, both sets of owners smiling at the whole scenario with indulgent (aren't they funny?) gazes, seemingly both totally unaware at the panic the black pup was in. This went on for a good two minutes. As I got near enough, I called out, "That dog is terrified". Sadly, I wasn't heard. By the time I was nearer, the staffy owner had called him back and the other group were heading away up the path. I did say to staffy owner that my dog would be willing to play with her pup but that the dog that had just left was not appropriate as he was really scared - she agreed with me, smiling happily and clearly not getting at all what a terrible time the black pup had just been put through. On the rest of my walk, I kept worrying about poor black pup with owners who had no idea that he had a desperate fear of other dogs and needed help to gain confidence to be able to relax with other dogs. All this, in my view, is because neither party had recognised the clear dog body language. So, please new dog owners (it goes for adult rescues as well as puppies of all sorts), read up about dog body language so you can do your best to make your dog feel safe and happy and learn to get the most out of life. If I see the black puppy again, I will speak to the owners as tactfully as I can.
Sorry this is so long but it is still upsetting me.

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Veterinari Mon 19-Aug-19 21:20:33

Totally agree. Welcome to my world. Most people are clueless

missmouse101 Mon 19-Aug-19 21:25:57

Agree too. It's so depressing isn't it. sad

threemilesupthreemilesdown Mon 19-Aug-19 21:37:14

Thirded. Although it's heartening that more and more people are recognising that socialisation is important, they have often got the wrong end of the stick on how to actually go about it and end up flooding their dog at every turn.

Bagadverts Mon 19-Aug-19 22:01:06

Sorry if this derails. I don’t own a dog. Can I ask what the best body language for a human if a dog is close up and barking or growling. Obviously I’ll be looking for an owner to take charge, but should I stand or sit, shout or keep quiet?

How can I tell if a dog bounding up is being friendly?

(I used to be fine with dogs as a child, then a neighbour didn't control his dogs properly. At various times I came back from school, aged 16 to find a dog sitting or standing in front of our front door barking or growling (no sign of owner). i walked back down the path and waited for them to go. The neighbour said if I shouted the dog would go away as it was just guarding our house. We got it stopped in the end by threatening to call the police.)

Booboostwo Tue 20-Aug-19 07:53:27

Bagadverts if you feel worried about a dog don't shout, don't run, don't hit out. Look down, fold your arms and if you can, turn your back on the dog (if he keeps jumping up on you, keep turning your back).

Dog body language is complex, see if your local dog training class runs classes for people who are scared of dogs or want to learn more about them without owning one. Understanding dogs is a really useful skill even if you don't want to own one.

Bagadverts Tue 20-Aug-19 13:14:19

Thank you. I was absolutely sure I wasn’t going to just shout at our neighbour’s dog- it didn’t seem very sensible and I didn’t know if the other two were around. I don’t have a phobia, just wary. When visiting friends or relatives before I would have felt comfortable with owner in room or out for a few minutes.


mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Tue 20-Aug-19 14:56:39

Booboostwo is right. When we were small (a great many years ago!) my dad taught us all to stand stock still when approached by a dog who might be aggressive/jumpy and it always worked. I don't think he said about the looking down bit, which is also very useful as to look them in the eye would rattle them further.

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