How to deal with aggressive dogs

(7 Posts)
heatseeker14 Mon 20-Jan-20 22:08:45

I’m after a bit of advice about what I need to do if another dog is aggressive to mine. When I was out walking my 6 month old puppy today a dog off lead made a beeline for him whilst he was on lead. The older dog was snarling in his face and pinned him against my legs. I watched for a couple of seconds and decided to pick my pup up when the other dog did not back off. The owner ran up and apologised. She told me she had never seen her dog react that way before. Now the dog was a fair bit older, so perhaps it was ill or something, but I walked away feeling anxious about the situation. I’m sure this won’t be the last time something like this happens, so I would like to know how I should deal with situations like this. Ideally I wouldn’t have picked him up, but I was very worried that my dog was going to get bitten. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
AvocadosBeforeMortgages Mon 20-Jan-20 22:43:12

The first thing to note is that most dog fights are all noise and no actual damage - handbags at dawn, if you will. The noisy fights rarely do any serious damage - if they can make that much noise, they have to be opening their mouth, and that means they can't be doing much biting! It's the quiet fights you need to worry about.

Before (rescue, undersocialised, little) DDog learned that he could walk away from a fight, he got into a few scraps - usually him escalating a minor squabble. Every single one was all noise and no actual damage. I'll probably get flamed for it, but I'll note that he's not got into a scrap in about two years and has actually got some good social skills now (for instance, today a strange dog resource guarded a treat at the park, and he quite reasonably growled back but took it no further)

I invariably ended up just diving in, grabbing one dog's collar / harness with each hand and pulling them apart. I'm neither large nor physically fit, for the record. I've never been bitten (though I take the attitude that I'd rather I got bitten than DDog - I can rationalise what happened and my treatment is substantially cheaper!). Most people seem to look like a rabbit in the headlights in such situations, so it's a good idea to plan what you're going to do and do it (personally I found my mama bear instinct kicked in). I wouldn't, however, pick up your dog - that way you're going to
- encourage the other dog to jump up
- remove your dog's ability to use body language to communicate / try and deescalate the situation
- will make your dog more scared (and therefore inflame the situation, as the flight option has been removed so only the fight option remains)

heatseeker14 Mon 20-Jan-20 23:11:30

There was a lot of noise coming from the other dog. I think it was when he pinned him against me and wouldn’t quit I started to worry. I waited briefly for the dog to carry on walking but he didn’t. Do you think I should have carried on walking or perhaps blocked the other dog with my leg. I must admit I did freeze up because I was unsure of what the other dog was going to do. I probably shouldn’t have picked my boy up but I kept calm. The other owner apologised about it, and I said don’t worry I think was all noise. It was very noisy and out of the blue. I have a lot to learn about this kind of stuff! Don’t want to overreact, but at the same time don’t want to stand there and do nothing if something similar happens.

OP’s posts: |
frostedviolets Mon 20-Jan-20 23:50:58

I wish I had the answer to this.

I can't tell you how many times I've had other dogs go for my dog.

Almost always noise and no physical damage but I have also had the silent stiff standing deathly still before grabbing my dogs throat as she was running away too.

I agree it's the silent, stiff still ones you really have to worry about.

I no longer allow my dog to socialise with others, which suits her fine as the vast, vast majority of the time she doesn't want to meet and greet them anyway.

We walk at heel past other dogs.
If she's off leash and there are others around I'll look at the other dogs body language and if I think it looks okay I'll allow my dog to be loose but I'll recall her if it looks like the other dog is going to approach her.

Unless in the very rare instance mine actually wants to approach, I'll let her but I watch very carefully incase I need to recall.

The main things I have learnt about reactivity since having my dog.

1. You cannot trust other dog owners.
They usually cannot read their dog correctly.
When/if their dog 'goes' for yours they either minimise and try and make out their dog has done nothing wrong or they get aggressive with you.
It's safest to avoid other dog owners.

2. Many mature adult dogs don't really wish to socialise and play with other strange dogs unless they actually know them.

3. The vast majority of 'friendly' dogs are not.
They are obnoxious and rude and scary.
Racing over considerable distance and bouncing all over other dogs is not friendly.

4. 'All noise' fights can still cause considerable damage.
They can cause your dog to get nervous and uncomfortable around others and aggressive themselves.

What do I do when actually faced with an aggressive dog?

It depends.

I have walked calmly at heel before, sometimes it works but often it results in a dog that just follows you further and further away from its owner.
I have had a dog bite my dog while walking away before.

I have kicked a dog, not something I'd ordinarily do but it had my dog pinned on the floor..

If the dog is smallish I may put my dog in a sit and block the offending dog.

But honestly, it always happens so fast it's really difficult to know what to do for the best.

Not helpful but to be honest, if another dog intends to injure your dog, they probably will.

BiteyShark Tue 21-Jan-20 08:15:08

I too avoid any interaction with unknown dogs so tend to walk away from them calling my dog to follow me. If they follow then it's really up to the owner to deal with that and typically they get worried if their recall isn't great as I walk in countryside so they could easily lose their dog. This only works if you are in a big area e.g. not a park.

My dog gets to socialise with known dogs. He has lots of doggy friends but they aren't strangers.

I just don't trust other dogs and their owners tbh like frost explained for similar reasons.

heatseeker14 Tue 21-Jan-20 09:14:13

Thanks for your replies.
@frostedviolets I am worried if this keeps happening he will eventually become aggressive himself. He looked very confused, bless him!
I didn’t think the other dog looked aggressive just very interested in mine, but I obviously missed a few signals. Thankfully it was just noise this time. I would of struggled to get my foot in between them because the dog had pinned my dog to my boots. I guess if I stepped back a bit I could have blocked it with my leg. Will try to do this or walk away next time.
@BiteyShark we were walking along a path that runs alongside a field. I could have veered off into the field, but I really didn’t see any threat at the time. It’s annoying because I like to do some loose lead training along the path. He has mastered it in quiet areas, so we now need to train around distractions. I like to walk him along the path before putting him on his long line and going for a walk in the fields. I think I will have to do his loose lead training elsewhere.

OP’s posts: |
Booboostwo Tue 21-Jan-20 10:57:40

Do not put your leg between two dogs that may be fighting or play fighting, you may well get bitten. Use a large handbag or use your coat to block the line of sight. This usually ends things.

Having said that, it would be best if you put it out of your mind. Take your puppy somewhere where he can socialize with other friendly dogs so that he can put it out of his mind. Also try to let your puppy off the lead if another off the lead dog is approaching. Free interactions are less likely to turn bad than ones where one dog is restricted by a lead.

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