An unpleasant incident

Share your favorite training tips, ideas and methods with other Positively members!

Moderators:emmabeth, BoardHost

Post Reply
Ocelot0411
Posts:593
Joined:Thu May 24, 2007 7:30 am
An unpleasant incident

Post by Ocelot0411 » Wed May 06, 2020 1:34 pm

Hi all,

I think I am looking for a mixture of advice and reassurance here that a) my dogs are not aggressive, b) I am not a terrible owner and c) I have interpreted this situation correctly.

Before I go any further and I would never normally do this, but could I ask you to be gentle with me as I am a bit delicate at the moment and this has upset me. That doesn't mean I don't want the truth but I would politely request it is constructive in its delivery or I may cry!

The incident I refer to goes as follows. I went out in my lunch break to take Bella and Berkeley (both American bulldogs, her nearly four spayed, him 7 months entire). I am walking down the road behind my house which is approximately just about wide enough for two cars to pass if you are careful. I see one of my neighbours dogs (male entire boarder terrier (Alfie) out loose; mine are both on leads. Bella met these dogs long before Berkeley joined us and all was well.

Alfie runs over to us, sniffs Berkeley then growls and snaps at him. Berkeley responds by towering over him and putting his two front paws on his back, which I know was asking for trouble. Alfie does not appreciate this rudeness from a pup and really goes for Berkeley. Berkeley stands up for himself but I pull him out as best I can given that Alfie is loose and coming at him. Bella takes exception, she is of course on the lead to so in the think of it........but here it comes. She basically storms in, gets hold of Alfie by the scuff of the neck and shakes him hard. There is a lot of noise, growling, snarling and she looks like she's about to kill him, so it was all quite alarming.

I get hold of her collar and pull her back by which time Alfie's owners are on the scene and are pulling him out too. Miraculously, there is no damage done but it shook me, as Bella has been set about by dogs herself before Berkeley was ever thought of and never reacted this way.

So, I would like some views on this. How should I have handled this? How do I prevent this in the future? Whatever, all constructive comments are welcome.

Just to clarify, there is one dog that Bella doesn't like that she has shown aggression to before but its been all noise, display and nothing else. Other than that she is really friendly, sociable and friendly with other dogs. Berkeley is also extremely friendly, playful and basically loves everyone. The only time I have ever seen him be aggressive is when another dog has had a pop at him, in which instance from the age of 6 months old, with a full grown male boarder collie, he stood up for himself and stood his ground.

Am I completely over reacting?

JudyN
Posts:7018
Joined:Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location:Dorset, UK
Contact:

Re: An unpleasant incident

Post by JudyN » Thu May 07, 2020 1:58 am

There's a few triggers here: a lot of male dogs really dislike unneutered males; dogs can be more reactive when they are on lead; dogs can be protective of their 'housemates' so both Berkeley and Bella could have been 'protecting' the other. Berkeley is beginning to feel the effects of his own testosterone and, as you say, paws on back is rude (but then what adolescent isn't rude?).

What could you have done differently? Now you know how these interactions can play out, next time you see Alfie, turn and walk the other way - but in a relaxed way: 'Hey chaps, let's go THIS way now!' If Alfie follows, you might be able to send him away - stand facing him, hold up a hand and say 'Git!', 'Wait' or similar. And I'd also point out to his owner that (a) it is illegal to walk a dog off lead on a public highway, and (b) right now you're not meant to let your dog approach other people.

Without knowing in advance how this was going to play out, I don't think you could have done much differently. Now, though, it's very important that you try to avoid similar encounters - Berkeley is at an impressionable age, and you don't want bullying and generally reacting to other dogs to become a habit. Reinforce turning and walking the other way, and give your dogs a treat when they are calmly walking in the other direction - that is a much better habit to get into!
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

User avatar
Nettle
Posts:10753
Joined:Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: An unpleasant incident

Post by Nettle » Thu May 07, 2020 2:55 am

Poor you! Don't beat yourself up about this - it seems perfectly normal behaviour as in your adult dog protecting her housemate who is sill young, Alfie being a terrier,and also protecting his "patch" and muscling in on a teenager who is about to get too big for his boots, and said teen doing exactly that. The only "sinners" were Alfie's owners having him loose and letting him run up to a pair of dogs.

Nobody could have foreseen this in its entirety, but now you know how it pans out, use avoidance tactics as JudyN describes. The only significant changes I would make are: when you need to separate dogs or stop them from meeting at any distance don't pull (which leaves the potential antagonists facing each other), get between them and push your dog to where you want him, using your legs. This puts you in the position of a physical barrier and is normal dog behaviour as dogs push each other - they don't pull. Practice this without other dogs being there, so your pup knows to go sideways in a neutral scenario before you need to move him with another dog present.

Also walk each of your dogs on their own sometimes. It doesn't have to be for long or every day, but enough to remind them that they don't use each other as backup - they rely on you.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

Ari_RR
Posts:2037
Joined:Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:07 am
Location:USA
Contact:

Re: An unpleasant incident

Post by Ari_RR » Thu May 07, 2020 4:58 am

You did great, in my books! And little Alphie is a lucky dog!

A long time ago my then 11 m.o. Ridgeback was attacked in a similar scenario by a loose SharPei, and it ended with SharPei being rushed to an emergency vet and then long recovery before he could walk again. And I am a fairly big and strong person, and only had 1 dog with me - so, fantastic job protecting all dogs from getting injured.

One thing to share - after that encounter, for the rest of his life my Ridgeback boy hated SharPeis...

Anyway, do not overthink, these things happen, we just move on and try to avoid in the future.

Whenever there was a tense moment between my RR and another dog - I would just get between them, so they can’t get to each other, hoping that the other dog’s humans would get there quickly and help. But of course I cannot recommend this technique, it puts the human at risk... which I can take, but it’s certainly not for everyone :-)
Ari, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sept 2010 - Dec 2018.
Miles, Rhodesian Ridgeback, b. Nov 2018

User avatar
Nettle
Posts:10753
Joined:Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: An unpleasant incident

Post by Nettle » Fri May 08, 2020 3:37 am

Well said. I just want to make sure that it's understood by OP that when I say 'get between and push your dog away' you don't forget the second bit. Use your legs to push your dog sideways away from conflict and as far as you need to.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

Post Reply