I received a disturbing email from a client about her dog being attacked by another dog. I am always heartbroken when clients share this kind of news. What makes the story even sadder and shocking was that her dog was attacked twice by the same dog. Yes, twice by the same dog. Even worse, the offending dog’s guardian, who was present for both attacks, showed no remorse over their dog’s actions. When I read her words, “he blew me off”, I could not help but feel obligated to share her story.
Like me, you are probably appalled by her news because you likely share similar views with my client. If you are reading a dog training article, assumably you spend time teaching your dog expected behaviors and truly want to understand your dog better. To you, I say….SPEAK UP. First and foremost, always ask if a dog is friendly when considering approaching with your dog. Anyone who has worked with me knows I preach on that subject. If the person says “sometimes” or “I don’t know”, move on. Just because they are both canines does not mean they are meant to be best friends.
If you are at a park or frequently pass a dog on the street who is bullying others, talk to the owner. Do not do attempt a heat of the moment discussion. People are passionate about their dogs and their choices. Knock on their door or catch him or her when neither of you have your dogs so you are each other’s sole focus. Be polite and simply explain that their dog is going to hurt another if bullying continues. Print this article and show the individual this video because understanding warning signs can prevent future incidents.
If you have witnessed or been a victim of a dog attack (human or dog); pass on a reputable trainer’s information. Follow up and if he or she has not attempted to teach their dog better choices, report it. Often, we fear something horrible will happen to the offending dog. However, if a dog has bitten, he or she will bite again and bites often get worse. Your dog (or you) could also be attacked a second time by the same dog and it is not fair.
If this message happens to wander across the screen of someone who might not understand why their biting, growling, bullying dog should not be allowed to continue this behavior, let me give you a few reasons:
- By allowing your dog to continue this behavior, it will only grow more intense with time. As behavior progresses, so do damages and dogs have the capability to kill. That is not something I would want on my conscience, would you?
- Your dog’s actions, which are your responsibility, have traumatized and possibly altered another being’s perception of dogs for their entire life. Imagine being riddled with anxiety every time you pass a dog. Please understand that is your doing and take accountability.
- If your dog hurts or growls at another dog (or human) when approached or gets into fights at the dog park, he is not having fun. It is that simple, find a new outlet for your dog’s energy. Work with a trainer to teach more appropriate social behaviors.
For those of you who have attempted to “socialize” your growling, humping, lunging dog by continuing to take him or her to the dog park or continue to pull and growl on leash walks; please thoroughly review the above video and articles to better understand your dog. Spend time some training your dog to walk better on leash. And know that “socialization” is not throwing a dog into something or at someone that he or she has shown clear signs of flee or fight. Socialization is teaching dogs that awful things are not awful in thoughtful steps, always watching for stress signs while working through the process.
We chose to domesticate them and we dote, love, play and spend loads of money on them. Why shouldn’t we spend that time trying to understand them? If your watch what your dog is trying to communicate and remember we all have to share parks and sidewalks, perhaps it will be a little more peaceful for all of us. My hope is that unknowing owners can recognize warning signs, get the help they need and keep everyone safe.