My Dogs Aren't Friendly

September 26, 2017

Hudson and Lucy are leaps and bounds ahead of where we started in terms of leash training. Hudson used to lunge at anything that passed and Lucy pulls so hard I've actually fallen over; put them both together and you've got a high energy sled team that outweigh me by at least 30 lbs. Leash walking the beasts is no picnic, but I've got it down to a pretty fine art. That is, until we pass another dog.


Listen, your kids could come flying up to them and hug them mid walk and they would be happy to stop and give them a few big, sloppy kisses. But another dog? Not a chance. There's lunging, there's (loud) barking, and there's a very little me on the end of the whole ordeal trying to keep my dogs at a safe distance from your dog. Off leash? No problem. On leash? We're actively working on it. Both of them are rescues, so I really have no idea where the leash reactivity came from, but is it ever annoying. I have no problem admitting it, and being the one to cross the street so you don't have to deal with the circus while we're training.


Recently, two things have happened in relation to this which I'd like to share with you because what the hell, people?


I was walking my dogs down a slightly busy sidewalk (on leash, of course) when a man and his golden retriever started towards us. His dog was off leash. I crossed the road and took Hudson and Lucy on the other side of some parked cars hoping for a smooth pass, but the golden followed and began running towards us. "My dogs aren't friendly on leash!" I yelled towards the man. He did nothing. "Sir," I said again, "my dogs aren't nice!" Do you want to take a stab at his response? It was "Oh don't worry, mine is." WHAT! Now because my dogs are doing their whole tough guy act, this golden (still running full steam ahead) is growling and teeth bared. So I lean back with my dogs, pulling them slightly behind me and kick a leg out to stop the dog from barrelling into a massive fight. I did not kick, I did not stomp, I just put my leg straight out - I looked like a human teeter totter. "Don't kick my f*cking dog!" the man shouted at me. EXCUSE ME! WHAT! Politely I said to the man "Sir, I am not kicking your dog, but I told you my dogs are not friendly on leash and your dog is still running at us." to which he responded "Pretty public place to be bringing your dogs if they're not friendly..." Yup, walking, on leash, down the side of the road. Get a friggin' grip.


Today, while walking and trying to train, another man with his golden retriever (seriously, goldie owners, I get it, you're a friendly people with nice dogs) walks straight towards us. Literally, crossed the road so his dog could come and say hi. All while I have pulled my dogs off on the side and made them sit down and distract them with a fanny pack full of treats. "He wants to say hi!" the man exclaimed exuberantly, pointing at his dog. "Unfortunately, my dogs are in training, they are not friendly on leash." (my standard) "Oh that's ok..." he says as they are still trotting towards us. My dogs, I must say, did pretty amazingly - they didn't start the meltdown until the dog was about 2 feet from us, which is when the man finally says "Oh, maybe we'll just leave those two," to his dog.


WHY does it take my dogs flipping out before you will listen to my multiple warnings of "they are not friendly" "they are in training" "aggressive on leash" - this literally happens to me all the time. 


I have always had rescue dogs, so I'm no stranger to not letting your animal run up to another animal in an on-leash area (like the cussing road). The hubby, however, has kindly pointed out to me that this can be a foreign concept to people with friendly dogs. "Until I had our dogs, I would never have thought twice about letting my dog go up to say hi to another. The dog I had growing up was super friendly." Oh. Ok then. We'll address it.


Hi friendly dog owners! I'm sorry, but not all dogs are friendly. Especially on leash. It's where their flight or fight instinct comes into play, and because they are attached to a leash, fight almost always wins. Your pet has potential to be hurt by an unfriendly dog because of this, and more so if you do not heed the warnings of another owner. I'm not saying my dogs aren't friendly to be mean or rude, I'm saying it for the safety of both our dogs. Now, if you still don't listen, that's on you. But, please, for the love of all that is holy, listen.


Problem solving tip: if you're me (the unfriendly dogs owner) and your dog is still calm as the other dog approaches, I usually drop the leash if it is safe to do so, because my dogs are friendly off leash. If a fight ensues, don't get tangled, drop the leash. I read that leash aggression can develop more as you don't address it, so eventually the dog associates frustration and (if they pull like mine do) pain in seeing another dog because you are dragging him away. That's bad.


Boiled frog method your dog into passing others politely. This means one degree at a time. So at first, that may be 20 ft away your dog is still calm when another dog is approaching - stop, sit and reward. Eventually that may be a dog across the street. The hope is that gets to be a dog on the other side of the path. Patience and consistency. We can do this. 

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©2017 by The Okanagan Pet Project. 

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