Requested blog on dealing with strange dogs when out on a walk?

May 24, 2010

One subject that came up when I asked for your ideas on suitable blog topics was “how to cope with strange dogs on a walk”. This is a favourite subject of mine, I am constantly amazed, stunned and downright cross with other dog owners when I walk my dog in the company other dog walkers!

Here is Bella’s story of what happened to her and her little Pug on a walk:

“A loose dog went for Toddy (who was on lead) the other day and got its jaws round his back leg. I shouted and swooped down on the dog and it let go long enough for me to pick Toddy up. There was no damage. However it was lucky it happened with Toddy not Snifter. Snifter would have reacted aggressively (Toddy was just surprised), there would probably have been a fight and possible lasting psychological issues as well as possible physical injury. So a discussion of how we can discourage other dogs from getting at ours, how to deal with the owner who insists their dog “only wants to play” – I have seen play and it does not look like that – and how we can reassure our dogs would certainly be of interest to me. I am convinced that some of Snifter’s antipathy to certain other dogs stems from my inexperience when he was a puppy and got menaced by a couple of Border Collies in our park.”

Please send in your stories of similar experiences, I will gladly respond and I think many of other Blog visitors will too!


Here is one of my worse experiences walking in the park with a group of clients and there dogs:

I was out with 5 of my clients and there dogs in the park, a planned trip to take our training into the public! All was going well with recalls and lead work training until the Labrador in the group went lame! A big dog I was naturally concerned for him and his upset owner, and we started back to the car park to get him to the car and on to the Vet’s, luckily we weren’t too far away, but on the route a man was walking along with his Flat Coat Retriever off the lead, she obviously a very friendly dog, too friendly, she made a bee line for the weakened Labrador, I, like a tigress defending her cubs, leapt in front of him to protect him and head her off! She was not easily dissuaded from jumping on him and I got progressively firmer in deterring her, starting out shooing her verbally and waving her off, she kept coming and ran into my hand, she backed off, but her owner didn’t! He bore down on me and started to rant, standing right in my face, we were practically toe to toe, I wasn’t moving (foolishly maybe but my blood was up now), he threatened to call the police and accused me of attacking his dog! I explained, as calmly as I could, the situation and my concern for the injured dog, he wasn’t listening and became more offensive, I am sad to say I lost it at this point and told him very loudly to back off and take his dog with him, treating him much as I had his dog really!  I told him I would ring the police and charge him with assault!

Luckily he went, I was shaken, and felt bad that my clients class had been tainted by the experience, after all  I was at work! My group were great and very supportive but none the less we were all shaken by the experience, the man had behaved in a very threatening way.

On arriving home I rang the local dog warden and the police, thankfully my dog warden responded brilliantly! She visited the man, I had asked for his name, and as a result the next time I was in the park, this time I took my sister and our dogs, not my clients, he apologised profusely, he was a different man to the one I had seen before. The dog warden had explained that there is a by law that states all walkers, with or without a dog have the right to walk in public unimpeded by other peoples dogs! and we have the right to make that happen if the owner of the dog cannot!

I am telling you this story, not because I am proud of my own behaviour, but then none of us are perfect or get it right all the time, and in the world of dogs things often go awry, and sometime it is a matter of managing the best you can.

I have to say that when I walk in that same park these days the regular dog walkers keep away from me and my dog! Word has spread and I am glad of it, though I am sure I am unpopular with them!

So a long answer to Bella’s query! In short I do whatever it takes, but for the most I keep my dog behind me and prevent the other dog getting to him, in the case of young puppies or very friendly dogs, I get hold of their collars and hand them back to the owners. With owners that assure me their dog is friendly I tell them mine is not, to be honest he is, but if there dog is not he could learn to fight, and then what would I do when he has to work with me and my clients dogs. The reality is that a strange dog is an unknown quantity, a strange pack, and the meeting of unknown dogs is, for the most part just that unknown but could be dangerous, I do not take the chance, my dogs temperament and safety is too important. Again this can go wrong, if my dog was upset by another dog, and that has happened to me too,  the way forward is to create some experiences over the following days and weeks that are more positive to put the bad experience to rest. More on that subject to come soon, now come on let me have your stories so that we can share and learn from each other?


4 Responses to “Requested blog on dealing with strange dogs when out on a walk?”

  1. anne Says:

    My dog gets very overexcited and thence disobedient and it’s a job to stop her running off with every dog she sees. I am plagued with owners who interrupt her/my concentration. I generally put her in a sit or down when an dog comes close but owners keep coming over saying it’s ok fido/fred is friendly, just wants to say hello … my most successful answer as I flick at their dog to move off, yes well yours may be, but mine IS NOT! It does get them to back off (usually rather puzzled as they regard my small happy friendly spaniel), who is nevertheless under my COMMAND and is not allowed to say hello unless I SAY SO.

    • Avril Munson Says:

      Well done Anne, it takes courage to be that assertive and do so the right thing by your dog! It is easy to be flattered by other people being nice to your dog and be distracted from your dog training! Glad you are not letting them put you off!

  2. sue horn Says:

    i was enjoying a lovely peaceful walk with my goldies my friend and her goldie, when a colliecross stsrted to run at us, growling, she quickly informed me that this dog hsd previously attacked her goldie who needed 8 stitches in his neck! i told her to stand infront of her dog and my two, i took my leads and hers and started swinging them round and i ran at the dog shouting (any of you that know me , this is very scary)the dog obviously had never been confronted by a mad woman swinging leads round her head. he stopped, turned and ran away, the owner was quite away from him, think i scared her to! remember most dogs have not experienced a human before the dog, keep that in mind and protect your dog. sue

    • Avril Munson Says:

      Thank you for sharing that Sue, sadly too many dogs are injured under these circumstances and their behaviour is changed over night and the victim can become the attacker in the future. I can just picture you, I am not surprised the dog ran away, I would have too!

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