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Dealing with other people's aggressive dogs (longish)

Dingo
May 24th, 2008, 10:34 AM
I've posted a couple of times about how my puppy has been attacked by other dogs. (When I say "attacked" I'm talking about aggression that's beyond just the typical older dog putting a puppy in its place routine).

Yesterday I was walking my dog, now 8 months old, in a park that has an unfenced off leash area on one end and other areas where dogs are supposed to be leashed. We had walked through the off leash area and were at the other side of the park when I noticed a large dog up ahead. Its owners were sitting on a bench facing the other way, and the dog was off leash. As we got closer, I didn't like the way he was looking at us, so instead of walking directly towards him, I changed direction slightly so we would still be moving forward, but away from the dog.

We hadn't gone very far when the dog came running up to us. My dog, who's now around 16lbs, was on a 6ft leash and wearing a training collar. The other dog was quite large -- had to be at least 80lb, maybe even more -- and not wearing a leash or a collar. My dog is a tough little guy: he isn't afraid of large dogs, and I don't worry about him playing with them, but this dog was behaving very aggressively. It had its hackles up and was making growling noises, and was lunging at my dog, who was obviously afraid.

At one point my dog yelped. I don't know if the other dog bit him or if I tightened the training collar too much pulling him out of the way, but the situation rapidly became dangerious: I was repeatedly swinging my dog away from the other dog using my dog's leash and my foot, and stepping between the two dogs to prevent the big one from getting at mine. At the same time, I was trying to make myself big and saying NO and ENOUGH in a big, deep voice. The other dog's owner was calling his dog, but it was ignoring him and the owner certainly didn't come rushing over to help...

Anyway, as I used a louder and deeper voice it seemed to pause slightly when I spoke, but I started to feel like this dog was challenging me: it kept its hackles and tail up and was staring directly in my eyes. I was trying to strike a balance between not staring at it too directly and not looking away too much and wondering where the hell the owner was when he called the dog's name and it turned to look back at him. I just turned and pushed my dog in front of me and started walking away at a normal pace. He followed for a few steps and then left us alone.

I checked my dog for wounds and he seemed physically fine and didn't seem particularly traumatized -- he's still got that puppy dumbness that way. But this whole incident freaked me out. This was a large dog that wasn't under his owner's control, and the owner was essentially doing nothing to even try to control it (if it had been my dog I would have been running over there to physically intervene; this guy just stayed planted on his bench calling his dog while it completely ignored him). While the dog was initially trying to get at my dog, at one point it seemed to shift its attention to me, and it would easily have been capable of doing some serious damage to either of us; I have no doubt a dog that size could effortlessly have killed my dog.

Anyway, about half an hour later the other dog's owner and I (both dogs now on leash) happened to cross paths elsewhere in the park. I told him he should really keep his dog leashed if it's that unpredictable and the guy's response was "he's not unpredictable." I told him he was going for my dog, to which he replied "he doesn't do that." I told him that's exactly what he was doing. He and his girlfriend then both started telling me how lovable and gentle their dog is. I told them that my dog had yelped and ultimately the guy sort of mumbled a kind of combination apology/denial and that was it. I didn't bother to point out that his large dog was off-leash in an on-leash area harassing a much smaller puppy that was properly leashed and that, had his dog actually injured my dog (or me), he would have had big problems. His dog's lucky I wasn't a woman with a can of pepper spray in her purse; I would have felt totally justified in using it.

Anyway. So after all that I guess what I'm wondering is, what advice do people have for dealing with similar situations, ie: other dogs being threatening towards me and my dog. Is there anything else I could have done? Anything I did wrong?

LavenderRott
May 24th, 2008, 11:38 AM
Ahhhh. The reason that I avoid parks.

Personally, if it ever got to the point where I was swinging my little dog around on the end of his leash trying to keep him from getting bit, I would be done yelling at the dog and up to putting my foot up his *ss!

I have several friends who carry a couple of things while dog walking. The first is a cell phone with 911 on speed dial. The second varies from place to place. One carries bear spray, one carries a walking stick and another carries a golf club. Please remember that these people are rottweiler owners who have had loose dogs go after their rotties!!

At this point, you should call the local authorities and file a report. I know that you don't have owner's name and such, but should this dog ever hurt another dog or a child there will be something on record.

Dingo
May 24th, 2008, 11:46 AM
if it ever got to the point where I was swinging my little dog around on the end of his leash trying to keep him from getting bit, I would be done yelling at the dog and up to putting my foot up his *ss!

Maybe if it had been smaller. I have had to actually hit another dog to get it to release my puppy before, but that dog was small. We're talking about a large, heavy dog here; I wasn't about to provoke it into attacking me by attacking it first.

pitgrrl
May 24th, 2008, 12:04 PM
I've had enough similar experiences that, like Lavenderrott, I just avoid most parks all together and have basically become a total b*tch about off leash dogs. I just don't wait until the dog has approached us, I tell the owner to collect his/her dog while (s)he's still at a distance. If that fails, I will get out of the situation as quickly as possible regardless of how out of the way it is because I do not want to be breaking up a 3 dog fight while some idiot owner is 50 feet away not doing anything.

On a funnier note, the BF and I once got stuck with 2 chis that would just not stop trying to bite my two dogs. We were kind of cornered so the only thing we could think to do was to each pick up a dog and hope the chis didn't bite our legs. We must have looked totally stupid carrying two pit mixes away from the attacking mini dogs:laughing:

Dingo
May 24th, 2008, 12:06 PM
I tried to avoid the other dog by walking away from it to begin with. It came to us. My question is more about dealing with the situation when it happens.

LavenderRott
May 24th, 2008, 12:15 PM
If someone's off leash dog bites me, they had better hope it kills me. They have just walked into a whole new can of worms.

My little dog weighs 8 pounds. I have had him for almost three years and have become a bit attached to the little rodent. Having been bit before, it is the least of my concerns, to be honest.

I have heard that grabbing the offending dogs back legs and lifting them off the ground will stop an attack. Not sure how one would do that in your situation, however. I think I would go with carrying a walking stick.

Dingo
May 24th, 2008, 12:19 PM
Yeah, well call me crazy but I'm not willing to take the risk of (a) losing my own dog by having it run away while I'm (b) being seriously injured by stupidly trying to fight a large, powerful animal with sharp teeth.

pitgrrl
May 24th, 2008, 12:43 PM
I tried to avoid the other dog by walking away from it to begin with. It came to us. My question is more about dealing with the situation when it happens.

Well there are sprays you can buy like Direct Stop (http://www.mightypets.com/subcat.asp?0=445), or you could get an air horn (the sound of which you'd need to desensitize your dog to), but honestly, I think getting really assertive with the owners before the dog comes too close is the best way to go.

Dingo
May 24th, 2008, 12:56 PM
Well there are sprays you can buy

I might consider something like this. I wonder if a dog whistle would work.

I think getting really assertive with the owners before the dog comes too close is the best way to go.

This is fine if the owner is close by, but it doesn't really apply if the dog suddenly appears or comes running over from a distance.

Dingo
May 24th, 2008, 01:55 PM
Unfortunately it seems as though Direct Stop/Spray Shield isn't available in Canada or for shipping to Canada.

tenderfoot
May 24th, 2008, 05:53 PM
Pitgirl - too funny! I swear if Chi's were the size of labs they would have been banned decades ago.

Dingo - I know this was very frustrating, but I think you did alright - as is evidenced by the fact that no one got hurt. You tried to protect your dog (great in his eyes), you faced the intruder and tried not to back down, you tried to solicite help from the owners, then you calmly removed yourself.

I have encountered a few loose dogs in our woods who had no one with them. One imparticular was a wolf cross who stalked me and my Norfolk for quite a ways. I turned toward it and tried to back it off by claiming my space and he simply crouched down and kept coming. For all of my experience, he did un-nerve me enough that I knew he was not going to back off. So I left him alone and calmly walked off - eventually he got bored and retreated. So sometimes you just have to do the safe thing and leave.

The problem with spray deterents is that you have to be sure the wind is heading in the right direction - otherwise you spray yourself or your dog and there could be screaming involved and then you become prey. We have to think about this where we live in the mountains - we have lions and bears in our area and you don't want to do something that weakens your stance even further.

shane 123
May 24th, 2008, 06:49 PM
Well, I'm not the biggest person around nor the bravest so if I were in your shoes I would be carrying bear spray with me at all times for such situations. This guy was breaking the law by having his dog off leash so...que sera sera. No way would I ever let my dogs get hurt by a loose dog, nor me for that matter. Bear spray is available in Canada and people who camp buy it all the time. Any camping gear store will carry it.

aslan
May 24th, 2008, 08:50 PM
Dingo where abouts do you live, i personally would be carrying dog repellent when walking through a park, with only my little dog. Works on agressive dogs and as a personal protection device for you incase of weirdo's. Depending on where you live i know where you can get, both dog repellent, and pepper spray.

Dingo
May 24th, 2008, 09:34 PM
I live in Vancouver. Isn't dog repellent and pepper spray the same thing?

aslan
May 24th, 2008, 09:37 PM
lol, basically yes, pepper spray is a little more potent. If you have a store around you that sells serious hunting supplies you should be able to get it there, or look for a shop that specializes in swords, pellet guns, crossbows, etc. they will carry it too.

angeldogs
May 24th, 2008, 10:31 PM
I would have been putting my foot up the owners *ss.you did good with the other dog and not backing down.backing down submitting could have gotten you bit.i would also have called and made a complaint like Lavenderrott said.

luckypenny
May 25th, 2008, 05:59 AM
I would certainly make a complaint to the city if owners are being negligent in that particular park. But I also wouldn't take my dog there if we were constantly having negative experiences. It can't possibly be good for him if he's going to associate meeting new dogs with being attacked. Aren't there other places you can take your pup for a walk :shrug: ?

Longblades
May 25th, 2008, 10:02 AM
Dingo, I really don't think there is anything you can do. My puppy is seven months old now and I have met a similar owner, only once, thank heavens. And I don't go to dog parks. There are people like that in our world. I think your best bet is to avoid them by going elsewhere or at least going at a different time. And inform the authorities who manage that park.

Be very, very careful if you carry something with you for protection. You can be charged with carrying a weapon. Bear spray is NOT legal for carrying where I live, in Canada. It's tricky stuff too, bear spray. If the wind is wrong it can blow back on you and of course in a dog fight it will get on your own dog as well as on the aggressor. You can buy a lesser strength product but you will still have the drift problem.

Maybe no one thought I was serious in a similar recent post but I did take to wearing steel toed work books when I walked in one direction. A neighbour lets their large dog run loose unattended and when we met one day it attacked my old girl who had a bad back. Both dogs were off leash (having one on leash and the other off is a very bad idea. Leashes thwart proper doggy body language and can induce the very problem you had in either the leashed or the off-leash dog, or both.) I had let them have a sniff and the other dog just turned and grabbed my old girl by the neck. I kicked as hard as I could and heard a satisfying yelp and the other dog ran home.

Dingo
May 25th, 2008, 10:14 AM
I would certainly make a complaint to the city if owners are being negligent in that particular park. But I also wouldn't take my dog there if we were constantly having negative experiences. It can't possibly be good for him if he's going to associate meeting new dogs with being attacked. Aren't there other places you can take your pup for a walk

This is what I would consider the third "attack" my dog has experienced. Each one happened in a different park.

As for the issue of making complaint, I must say that I myself don't have a problem with dogs being off leash outside designated off leash areas (as this dog was), and there are enough people in Vancouver who hate dogs and take every opportunity to complain -- one of these people has even managed to get on the Parks Board's dog committee. The problem is really owners who don't have common courtesy and are, let's face it, irresponsible. Just like people who don't pick up after their dogs on city streets, they make us all look bad.

Dingo
May 25th, 2008, 10:29 AM
I hear what you're saying Longblades, but I'm not sure it's a very good solution -- certainly not an evereyday solution. If another dog had mine by the neck I'd do what I needed to do. But in this case I really don't think kicking this guy's dog would have been the right response.

LavenderRott
May 25th, 2008, 11:02 AM
This is what I would consider the third "attack" my dog has experienced. Each one happened in a different park.

As for the issue of making complaint, I must say that I myself don't have a problem with dogs being off leash outside designated off leash areas (as this dog was), and there are enough people in Vancouver who hate dogs and take every opportunity to complain -- one of these people has even managed to get on the Parks Board's dog committee. The problem is really owners who don't have common courtesy and are, let's face it, irresponsible. Just like people who don't pick up after their dogs on city streets, they make us all look bad.

It isn't a matter of liking or disliking other people's dogs being off leash - this dog attacked you and your dog. If it did this once, it will do it again.

hazelrunpack
May 25th, 2008, 11:46 AM
I agree that the incident should be reported. Near our last house there was a county park where dogs are allowed only on-leash, but no one was following the rule. It wasn't even the dog-dog or dog-people interactions that were problematic, but the dog-wildlife encounters. It's illegal for people to run their dogs off-leash through public wild areas during the bird nesting season, for instance. Eventually, enough people complained that the county sheriff began to patrol the area at random times of the day. A few $165 tickets and word spread like wildfire--amazing how everyone began leashing their dogs. :o

Meanwhile, though, if you find yourself in a bad situation that you can't avoid, a safe and nondamaging spray to use is a half-and-half mix of water and vinegar. It's fairly mild, even if you get blow-back, but dogs seem to hate the pungency, and it seems to be pretty effective, especially if the dog isn't expecting to get hit with it. I used to use a small plant mister bottle that fit into fanny pack.

I've heard that some bikers also use mixtures of ammonia and water, but I've never tried it.

These days, we don't run into too many dogs--we've got the whole county forest to walk in--but I still keep a bottle of the vinegar water handy around the house for when the boys decide it's time for some adolescent posturing :rolleyes:

DoubleRR
May 25th, 2008, 12:55 PM
I'm with you, LavenderRott, as my first instinct when faced with an aggessive dog is to be more aggressive than it is and send it packing. If I was attacked, the dog would come out the worse. I have two 85 lb RR and I am their protector, and they know it. Something comes at them--it gets me to deal with. It is a matter of experience and confidence--I know no dog will kill me, I have been well bitten by dogs more than once, but those dogs are all dead, and I am still here.

I weighed 107 lbs the last time I sent an aggressive GSD yelping home.

However, if someone does not have the confidence that they can take on any dog if they have to--they should not try. A half hearted attempt does more harm than good to your confidence when the dog sees through you. I do advocate vinegar or lemon juice in a good spray bottle--only used if the dog is both aggressive enough and close enough to ensure a direct hit in the eyes and nose--if that lands on you or your dog--it is not nearly so nasty as pepper spray, but it certainly deters all but the most determined attack, if you use it with loud angry commands to get the heck outa here. No problem with legality there.
jmo

Oops, sorry Hazelrunpack, missed your post before I posted, lol.

Dingo
May 25th, 2008, 02:41 PM
Hmm. I'm still not convinced that agression is the best way to nip aggression in the bud. My trainer works with police dogs and Schutzhund; I'm going to see what she has to say.

katherine93
May 25th, 2008, 03:11 PM
All i have to say is, i pity the dog that attyacked you and your dog, because it sounds to me like he'd have really good potential if he didnt have a A**hole of an owner! I hate people like that!

angeldogs
May 25th, 2008, 03:19 PM
Hmm. I'm still not convinced that agression is the best way to nip aggression in the bud. My trainer works with police dogs and Schutzhund; I'm going to see what she has to say.

When you have an aggresive dog and it is attacking you to defend yourself and spraying the dog is better then hitting or kicking the dog.when training an agressive dog you don't use aggression.it's different when it's a loose dog that can do serious damage to you or another dog.

hazelrunpack
May 25th, 2008, 03:35 PM
That's my opinion, too, angeldogs. There are some situations where you are going to be forced to act one way or the other, and using the minimal amount of force necessary is always the best. An unexpected spray of something pungent in the face of an attacking dog can distract it from its intent and end the attack. :shrug: Much better than having to rely on physical force, which should always be a last resort--you're much more likely to get hurt if you've got hands or feet involved in the fray.

Longblades
May 25th, 2008, 04:02 PM
Our obedience trainer said the same as many here, kick for all you are worth if you think it is a matter of saving your dog from serious injury. She even instructed the owners of little dogs in how to pick them up and hold their back feet to protect their bellies. My faith in this trainer went up several notches when she said that, because, how many times have we all been told not to pick up our small dog in such a situation? And how many of us are going to leave our small dog down there on the ground if we think it might be badly hurt?

In my case a jolt to our old girl's back would likely have meant the end of her as I would probably not put her through surgery at her age.

Another note, there is a super sonic dog repellant device you can get. I've used it while bicycling. It emits a high sound we humans cannot hear but dogs can and find uncomfortable. The trouble with it is the same as the sprays, your own dog can get a blast of it too.

super_pooch
May 26th, 2008, 02:02 AM
I have heard that grabbing the offending dogs back legs and lifting them off the ground will stop an attack. Not sure how one would do that in your situation, however. I think I would go with carrying a walking stick.

Putting on my flame suit....

We had a dog for about two weeks from the pound that attacked our new puppy and my dad did that but it still went for my dad and my dad had to beat it like a pinata for it stop. It wasn't correcting the pup, it wanted to kill it. It did bite my dad, the cut was deep and bleeding profusely. I felt bad that we had to give the dog back but I was worried she would go berserk later on and we have six kids under 10 so it's a big liability. :sad:

Lissa
May 26th, 2008, 10:34 AM
This happens to my dog all the time, which is in fact why he is reactive.... Make sure you keep socializing your puppy/dog with well-mannered dogs so you can hopefully avoid having a reactive dog.

Since I encounter off-leash dogs in a regular basis, so protecting my dogs space is my priority... Firstly, management is the key... If I see any loose dog (even if it appears well-trained or is 100% focused on its ball/frisbee), I avoid it like the plague... I am always aware of my environment which keeps us from running into most loose dogs.
When I loose dog catches me off-guard I put Dodger in a sit-stay behind me while I deter the loose dog. So long as the dog appears friendly, I get down on their level and use my dogs leash to leash them up and wait for the owner (so that I can give them an earful). If the loose dog is questionable or completely focused on my dog, I will SCREAM "go away" or even try an OB command. I will also throw a toy/stick or food so that Dodger and I can make our escape.

I have never had to hit or kick or spray a loose dog... The most I have ever done is yanked a loose dog off of my dog.

Dingo
May 26th, 2008, 12:00 PM
What's an OB command?

Avoiding loose dogs is not a possibility. They're everywhere and indeed, some of the places I walk are specifically set aside for that purpose. I don't even mind off leash dogs. I think dogs need to be able to interact with each other off leash.

I also really don't think that kicking this particular dog would have been a reasonable solution. If the situation had escalated, maybe.

Dingo
May 29th, 2008, 10:27 AM
Well, I spoke to my trainer, who pretty much confirmed what I thought: if your dog is being physically harmed, then pick up anything handy and aim it at the aggressor. Otherwise, to stop a dog that is approaching aggressively, step towards it with a hand outstretched in the STOP! gesture and shout NO. Extra tips: 1. a spring-loaded umbrella that opens at the touch of a button should be enough to frighten off most dogs, and 2. telling the other dog's owner that you think your dog might have kennel cough is enough to frighten most people into calling off their dog (ha).

MIA
May 29th, 2008, 10:46 PM
What I usually do is put my dogs in a down stay and I walk towards the dog coming towards us and send it away, in a strong voice I say GO HOME and it usually works... I don't go to dog parks much anymore as all my dogs have been beat up and I am done with that noise!

When I went last my MinPin was picked up and shook, the owner of the other dog did nothing, so I grabbed his dog by the scruff and picked if up off it's feet stuck my thumb in it's mouth so it would let go of my dog and until he would clip the leash on I wouldn't put his dog down! Now that's probably not the smartest thing to do but I have worked with nasty dogs and am quite strong, his dog was wiggling around like an idiot trying to go at me but thankfully I could hold her, she was a med sized cattle dog mix. Nasty thing. He didn't even apologize, he just said his dog didn't like little dogs! I mentioned she shouldn't be at a dog park... I did report it but really not much came of it.

Best thing to do is teach your dog a safety word for "come" that you only use in an emergency and get a good solid down so you can step in if you need to. Keep your cell phone handy and program in the local animal control number or 911 if that's what you have. Don't bother trying to argue with people about what their dog did, it's like arguing about their child....

If you can find a nice group to walk with that is better or a safer area where your dog can meet nice dogs even better.

I tend now to walk with a group I know and trust or just take my dogs to the stables where they can party and be safe there.

Just want to add that my Doberman had the crap beat out of her by a lab! ROFL

Ford Girl
May 30th, 2008, 10:55 AM
My dog is reactive/aggressive to some other dogs too, and no matter who I asked: vets, trainers, communicators, behaviorlist, they all say the same thing...stop going to off leash parks. Some wont help you if you continue to do so.

If you can't control the space, the other dogs, your dog from having negative experiences, they will learn negative reactions. When they are young and still in developmental stages, such as your dog, its essential they have positive experiences, it's how they develope their socail skills...if they are over-corrected or attacked aggressively during this time, it affects their long term behavior.

This is what the professional I have contacted have told me, we no longer go to the large off leash parks, we stick to quiet trails and play dated with dogs I know are safe and friendly, daycare is another safe place for them.

want4rain
May 30th, 2008, 11:14 AM
i started reading through this and the bear spray and so on and kept thinking, vinegar and lemon and water. although i think the pop open umbrella is brilliant!!

lots of great advice!!

-ashley