Mumsnet Logo
My feed

to access all these features


Unpleasant dogs

77 replies

Revolvingwhore · 25/09/2022 19:37

Walking my puppy this weekend I have bumped into two different people with what can only be described as unpleasant dogs.

The first one was very reasonable, a clearly responsible owner who quickly put her dog on a lead and changed direction. We bumped into her again later and her dog muzzled wanted to attack us, it was very aggressive. She did everything she could to stop this though. She was very apologetic and I felt sorry for her having to be hyper vigilant all the time.

The second owner had an alsation who bared its teeth at us and tried to lunge. We hung back and, mystifyingly, she slowed down. We changed route and she seeme to follow us. I couldn't understand this. She looked at us as though we were being unreasonable.

Both dogs seemed very unpleasant and it just made me wonder how people with dogs who are aggressive feel about being out and about with them, about having people over to their houses. Do people feel stuck with them, or do they still get pleasure with a dog they have to muzzle.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

stillherenow · 25/09/2022 21:01

Menora · 25/09/2022 20:21

It is good to understand reactive dogs because lax dog owners with a ‘perfect’ behaved dog usually make things worse as they are often relaxed and non plussed and don’t understand what might make a dog anxious. Yours is a puppy so you are feeling protective but as your dog gets older you will feel more confident. Other dogs get anxious and this is displayed by looking aggressive. dog aggression can be silent and in slight body language not just barking and lunging. My dog lunging at a dog across the road doesn’t actually want to attack it he is anxious and feels vulnerable as it’s a strange dog and warning the other dog and communicating (badly). My dog knows he’s on a lead and can’t ‘escape’ from a ‘threat’ and he isn’t sure if another dog is a threat to him.

I am always much more afraid of a dog who stands completely still and silently watches you, ears up, tail rigid.

My dog stands still like this but he's frozen in fear, it's not aggressive.

I used to be nervous of reactive dogs but now I'm much more comfortable with them rather than off lead bouncy ones !

Because this is how my dog reacts. He is terrified of off lead dogs and especially puppies due to too many bad experiences with jumpy puppies . But weirdly he's not fussed by a dog on a lead barking and lunging !!


stillherenow · 25/09/2022 21:03

Chesneyhawkes1 · 25/09/2022 20:43

@Revolvingwhore I'll defend an owner who had their dog on a lead and muzzled yes.

I really don't see what difference them walking by you made to your life tbh.

I'm sure the owner would love her dog to not be reactive. But for whatever reason, it is. She's just as entitled to walk it as you are yours.

She's taking all the necessary measures she needs to. If this upsets you so much, maybe you are better off walking in a private dog field. For your own well-being.

Totally agree


PurpleNebula84 · 25/09/2022 21:06

Menora · 25/09/2022 19:46

My dog is reactive and i get annoyed when he does it. I cross the road as I can’t be doing with his histrionics about other dogs. Thing is when he actually goes up to another dog close he’s perfectly fine! Loves them! Never is aggressive! Wants to play! Just irritating from afar. He’s such a little shit as he makes himself look like a moron

My dog is exactly the same - he's very slowly getting better and we've had a few small break throughs, but it drives me nuts - everyone thinking he's aggressive giving us a wide berth - it's so much easier finding remote places to go. I hate having to put him back on the lead when we see other dogs as I know it'll just set him off more - I can't seem to win 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️


CaptainThe95thRifles · 25/09/2022 21:11

Revolvingwhore · 25/09/2022 20:04

Yes but it's not my problem or the problem of other dog walkers is it? We had ours on a lead, we only made the mistake of walking in the same area, and it was scary. I don't need to understand reactive dogs, I need to feel safe walking mine in the woods.

You've bought yourself a dog, so now you need to understand the fundamentals of dog behaviour. In a few years time, it might be your dog who's being aggressive. Reactive dogs are made, not born, and nobody can guarantee their dog won't end up with issues. The only difference between you and the (restrained, muzzled) snarling dog's owner is time and luck.

You can't possibly know the muzzled dog would have bitten you if it had the chance - many reactive dogs appear to behave more aggressively because they are appropriately restrained and feel more vulnerable as a result.

Your ignorance and entitlement is shining through your posts. Perhaps you should go to a private field if you don't want to encounter other dogs?


foxlover47 · 25/09/2022 21:22

It isn't easy being a owner of a reactive dog , I have two brothers , both 2 now and neutered , had been through a Dv home and now react to men and dogs ..
They are never ever off lead unless in a private booked field .. their little let loose paid for treat once a week!
Wearing nervous collars , bright orange keep away collars etc never seems to stop other loose lead dogs bumble over , some owners still allow them too even though mine are both clearly barking on their lead!
But I walk them
In the woods, over public field footpaths because I have them on their lead and the day love their walk and I'm trying to show them that the whole world isn't scary.
However the judgement I receive often is something that makes me feel ashamed , I find I do apologise as they bArk when dogs pass , or even get the" wow you must have your hands full mine is so friendly "comments and I often ending up feeling like a total bad owner ... I'm not I've had dogs my whole life , worked with them my whole life and these are my first delve into the reactive dog owner world so I learn daily what's the best way to retrain and make their world better
Trust me , we aren't out to ruin your well behaved dogs walks I promise you that


RootinandTootin · 25/09/2022 23:36

Revolvingwhore · 25/09/2022 19:49

Yeah I definitely get that. But the first dog was muzzled and harnessed like Hannibal Lector and it really made me wonder if a dog like this feels more like a life sentence.

This is ridiculous, the dog is muzzled for other dogs and it’s protection. Most dogs don’t mind being muzzled at all and a keeping it on a lead in public is being a responsible owner. If it’s not and bites another dog or person the owner could find them self in legal issues. Your judgy attitude is awful. Pray to god your precious puppy doesn’t grow to have any issues at all because the look people give you is heartbreaking.


stevalnamechanger · 25/09/2022 23:39

What was your puppy doing at the time ?

On the lead ?

Some dogs are angels at home just dog reactive outside 🙄


howoriginal · 26/09/2022 01:39

Not all reactivity is aggressive either. My dog absolutely loves other dogs, as soon as she sees one she crouches down on the ground and waits for it to approach her. A lot of dogs do approach her and she then wags her tail, sniffs them, plays etc, no problems and then after a couple of minutes we go our separate ways. But if they walk past her without greeting her she will bark at them once they have passed - she's a frustrated greeter apparently. So if I see another dog on our walk that I don't know I'll cross the road or try to avoid them just so I don't run the risk of my dog barking at another one and potentially scaring it. I also always keep her on her leash if there are other dogs around as she will just run over to them if not - her recall is great under any other circumstances but if there's a dog then she goes deaf and blind to anything I say or do. Sometimes it's impossible to avoid other dogs as where we live is very dog heavy, but we do try and avoid putting our dog in situations where she will bark at others.


WiddlinDiddlin · 26/09/2022 04:13

Everyone who owns a dog should have a basic understanding of dog behaviour which includes how dogs become reactive and what aggression is... and isn't.

If you can't be arsed with that OP - please rehome your dog.

Dogs become reactive for a variety of reasons, a classic one is the dog on a lead, has a nasty experience with another dog (or a person, or traffic...) and that event or series of events, plus the feeling of being trapped by the lead, denied the option to run away, express normal body language, hide, freeze, fiddle about... means they feel they've no option left but to resort to lunging/growling/snapping..

Some of these dogs are bluffing and if the threat level increased ie, the trigger for the behaviour got nearer, they'd drop to the floor or try to bolt.

Some will not be bluffing and would genuinely bite in order to protect themselves.

If you see someone with a dog on a lead, give them a wide berth - there is NO need for your dog to meet other dogs on lead. Focus on teaching your dog to associate the sight of other dogs at a distance, with high value food rewards or toys (whatever the dog finds reinforcing), no matter what the other dog is doing, as long as it is safe to do so.

The more you can do this, the more you're proofing your puppy against a negative experience, but there is no guarantee, because as soon as you set foot outside your home, you are in an environment you can't control.

You could meet a friendly but rude dog next week who bounces on your puppy after a polite sniff, or bounces too NEAR your puppy before the polite sniff, scares your puppy, hurts them accidentally... and your puppy decides its probably safer to pretend to be a savage beast to get the space he now feels he needs, when he sees another dog.

Secure fields are a great thing - however they do need booking in advance, and may not be an option for people who do not drive or whose dogs cannot go in the car.

I'd look for some though - if you carry on without any understanding of dog behaviour, nor any desire to learn, you're going to be needing a secure dog field for your own dog soon enough.


Blaise19 · 26/09/2022 07:42

@WiddlinDiddlin Excellent post.

I've lost count of the number of times I've said 'If only dog owners would learn a bit about dog behaviour/body language.'

My staffie X is now 5, and was the perfect dog (got him as a rescue at 4 months) until, a couple of months ago, another dog attacked him when he was on the lead. He is now reactive when on the lead (still fine when off-lead). So, what am I doing about it? Rehoming him? Shouting at him? Muzzling him? Not walking him? Of course, none of the above! Instead, we are back to basics with our training, and rebuilding his confidence. He is mine for as long as he lives, and my responsibility, even though I haven't caused his problems.


SirSniffsAlot · 26/09/2022 08:01

What is really heartwarming to see, is the number of people on here with understanding of reactivity and how best to keep their own dogs happy and safe whilst also giving the other dog and owner the space (physical and/or mental) they need to focus on their challenges.

I've now worked with a few people for whom the reaction from other walkers is, by far, the hardest element of walking a reactive dog. Strong people who love their dog and come home from walks in tears at something another walker has said or done, or not done.

It always makes me raise an internal eyebrow because I bet, if asked, these other walkers would tell you they love dogs. And yet, through ignorance (often) they are acting in ways that make another dog's life a little bit worse when it would take no energy or effort at all not to. Something as simple as walking on by with minimum eye contact and no judgement, costs nothing as is an act of love towards both the other dog and your own, who sees an example of how other dogs are not an issue, regardless of how they behave. That's what it means to love an animal: to understand them and to do what you can to make their lives better (or even just not to make them worse).


mountainsunsets · 26/09/2022 08:13

I don't need to understand reactive dogs, I need to feel safe walking mine in the woods.

Actually @Revolvingwhore - as a dog owner it would be an incredibly good idea for you to read up about reactivity and reactive dogs. It could be yours one day.

My dog was an angel until two off-lead dogs ran up to him while he was on the lead, pinned him down and bit him. A few weeks later, he was sat in the backseat of our car with his seatbelt on when our neighbours off-lead dog jumped in the car and bit him. Neither incident was his fault or ours - but now he's scarred for life.

Don't be so quick to judge and sneer - all it takes is one bad incident and it could be your dog that's muzzled and leashed and lunging at everyone.

Those dogs didn't hurt you or do anything bad to you. Their owners had them fully under control.


foxlover47 · 26/09/2022 10:34

@SirSniffsAlot a million per cent yes to everything you wrote


Icanstillrecallourlastsummer · 26/09/2022 10:37

Let's hope your lovely little puppy never develops any behavioural issues. Because my guess is that these dogs were cute little puppies at one stage.

These dogs have as much right to be out for a walk as yours does. The owners were restraining them as needed. YABU.


GreenManalishi · 26/09/2022 10:43

Judge ye not. The owners of these dogs may at one time have been owners of very sweet puppies, wondering why everyone elses dog was just so, eew, unpleasant.


SillyLittleBiscuit · 26/09/2022 11:14

Some of these understanding posts have made my day. I’m about 7 weeks into owning a 3 year old reactive rescue. It’s really hard work. I know what he’s been through though and I know he’s petrified of things more “pleasant” dogs aren’t. He’s improving day by day. He’s got a trainer, never off lead unless in a private field, we walk at inconvenient times and avoid his triggers as much as we can. The comments and snide looks are hard to live with but I’ll persevere and not react. He’s more than worth it.


10HailMarys · 26/09/2022 11:25

Both dogs seemed very unpleasant and it just made me wonder how people with dogs who are aggressive feel about being out and about with them, about having people over to their houses. Do people feel stuck with them, or do they still get pleasure with a dog they have to muzzle.

My sister's dog had to be muzzled on walks. She didn't feel 'stuck with him' and we all adored him. He was lovely. He just didn't like other dogs getting close to him after an incident where another dog jumped on him and broke his leg (the other dog was an Old English sheepdog, he was a very skinny sight hound).


happiertimes123 · 26/09/2022 11:29

We have two dogs, one of which is reactive and the other of which is scared of humans. Honestly, I love them but it's bloody exhausting.


Backtobacknow · 26/09/2022 14:37

Revolvingwhore · 25/09/2022 20:40

Why you getting so pissy about it? Surely you can understand why I might have disliked this experience? Or are you determined to be that person who defends all dogs, any dogs, all the time?

I think you're the pissy one @Revolvingwhore you also lack ability to see that you are doing wrong with your dog!


Crocky · 26/09/2022 15:11

I have a reactive dog. She came to us as a rescue. Once she settled, which took quite a while, she was a happy dog. Until the day my daughter was walking her through a housing estate and a small child let their mastiff out of the front door. It came straight for my dog and she couldn’t escape. She ended up with several bites on her back and side and had to be shaved and stitched at the vets. She is now dog reactive when she is on a lead. She is still an angel off lead and has excellent recall.
Where we supposed to just give up on her after such and awful experience?


Crocky · 26/09/2022 15:12



sophiasnail · 26/09/2022 15:38

If these dogs were on a lead then there is no problem. Presumably your puppy was also on a lead (or has reliable recall) and so there was never any danger. You say your children were with you, but I should imagine you have taught them not to approach dogs they don't know without asking, so again, no one was ever in any danger. Yes, it would be nice if every dog we walked past was delighted to see us, but that isn't how it is. Give these dogs some space and get on with your day.


nopenotplaying · 26/09/2022 20:09

Pfb but dog?


DiddlyDoris · 26/09/2022 20:16

Oh seriously! How judgmental are you! They are not 'horrible' dogs. They are reactive. And you have zero idea why.

Perhaps they have a painful condition, attacked by other dogs themselves in the past, rescued from an abusive situation etc etc. many reasons why a dog may be reactive, it does not make it horrible. And I'd certainly never judge a dog wearing a muzzle as horrible, the owners being very sensible there.

As an aside, please, if ever you see a dog wearing yellow please give it lots of space. A dog wearing yellow usually means anxious/reactive.


curiouscatgotkilled · 26/09/2022 20:19

I have a very pleasant dog who is gentle and friendly with 99.9% of other dogs. There are, however, some random dogs that he HATES and goes nuts when he sees them, the owners must think he's a vile little creature. But he's a darling dog, so loving and snuggly to everyone.
Don't know why he has these reactions but we love him anyway.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?