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Monday, November 10, 2014

My Non-Reactive Dog vs. Dumb Ass Dog Owners

You're One Lucky Dog!

Welcome to this weeks Hop - Tales of Dumb Ass Dog Owners (DADO) blog hop, hosted by Tales from the Backroad & Heart Like a Dog.

Now normally when I talk about jerk owners or DADO's for the purpose of this post I reference my little gal Ziva. She's not aggressive - she's sensitive about how she is approached by other dogs.
Well for this hop I think the best stories come from my experience with Dante. Dante is my golden child, he's extremely confident, accepts our direction, he's gentle with children, the one who is great in all situations and a friend to all human's and dogs alike! Not even the slightest bit reactive towards ill mannered dogs - unless you try to bite mom..but that's another story.

Here's my 1st DADO:

The Setup -

Their is a large field close to my house (very close as in two houses down), this is a privately owned field owned by a church. This church allows neighbors to bring their dogs to play off leash, they do ask that you clean up after your dog. Unfortunately most people do not, this is my first example of Dumb-Assery - these people are trying to ruin our field usage! So we typically bring an extra bag or two and pick up any poop we see left behind.

About a year ago, before we had Ziva I had taken Dante to the field to play as per our usual routine.
He has really great recall so I trust him off-leash (it can always be better though so we practice regularly!) In the field I have a spot I like to stand that visually allows me to see down the street both directions if anyone or any dog is coming to join us. And it's not a busy field so we are usually alone which is nice. Well while we were playing this old many entered the field at the far end, I took note and watched him but his dog was on leash and Dante noticed but was more interested in playing with me than caring about the other dog.

This particular dog was a small yappy creature, the whole time the man walked she just barked her silly head off in our general direction and strained at the end of the leash. The stupid old man just ignored the behavior! So I just made sure he had tons of space and stayed on his side of the field. So far so good!

Now for the DADO - 
This moron, who had in fact seen us. Let his yappy dog off of her leash, regardless of the fact that she hadn't stopped barking at us or lunging in our general direction! I bet you can guess where this goes.
Yup! She headed straight for us! A direct beeline across the field as fast as her tiny legs could carry her, barking her head off and snarling the whole time.

Thankfully I was on top of it. I called in Dante turned to face the little terror, and placed him in a "Sit/Stay" between my front feet with both hands on his collar (his leash was just out of reach with how fast the tiny dog was coming). When she got within range I yelled a very loud an authoritative, "NO!" her response was to circle us once, aimed a kick at her but didn't connect, and then she picked a spot about 10 feet from us barking, snarling, and staring us down while her owner rushed in a slow old man way to come retrieve her.

And oh boy, did he get it from me! I scolded him profusely about having an aggressive dog off leash, his lack of recall, lack of situational awareness, lack of caring about the safety of others, lack of caring about the safety of his dog..and then launched into him some more about how Dante could have potentially killed his dog if she had attacked us! Dante is not aggressive but he won't stand around to get bitten either and she was way smaller than him! You are one lucky man that my Dante didn't eat up your yapper!

He was very apologetic, we ended up having a good conversation with myself using Dante as an example of a "good off-leash" dog.  Who I am proud to say, remained calm and under control the whole time.

I'd like to think he left us and never repeated the error but I tend to err on the side of people remaining stupid as opposed to learning from their mistakes.

Awww...look at his sweet face! Dante wishes everyone could just behave.

DADO #2:

This DADO story I actually learned something new. In this instance I was walking Dante and Tex-Anna our former foster. Their was a woman we always avoided like the plague - she was handicapped and in a wheel chair with a completely out of control aggressive black lab. This lab liked to lunge, bark, and snarl at us while she gently talked to the dog telling her "It's ok, I'm ok, good girl." Which to her dog means; keep barking, keep snarling, keep lunging, protect me from all other dog walkers.

On this particular day Dante, Tex-Anna and I were walking home. This particular route has one way to get home for us, down a narrow ally unless we walk 3+ miles out of our way to a connecting street. As we approached the ally entrance the lady and the lab came out of the Ally and were on the path right in front of us.
So I moved off the path giving her plenty of room to pass.

Her response?
To stop, look at me and tell me to pass.
No way! Are you nuts?! We are not passing your lunging, snarling and quite large black lab. Nope. You pass us.    Of course I was more polite than that.

Too make matters more complicated, enter in a 4th dog! A lady with a German Short Hair Pointer came up behind me and stopped, also needed to go towards the direction of my home, which is down the ally being blocked by the lab.

Well at this point the lab was practically frothing at the mouth, completely overwhelmed with 3 dogs staring her down - all sitting nicely I might add! Turns out the Pointer was a highly trained bird hunting dog.

Can you guess what happens next?

The lab busts loose, and in her hurry she managed to tip over and dump her handicapped owner. Is it wrong to call that karma?

The lady with the Pointer stepped in front of her dog to intercept, just as I did the same thing. Unfortunately Tex-Anna is a meet and greet type dog so she went in to say, "hi" and went around me. I then stepped on her leash, barked out a quick, "Sit!" to my dogs, said, "Here!" handed Dante's leash the the Pointer Lady, took several quick steps forward and grabbed the lab's leash that was dragging on the ground.

AGAIN - hindsight being hindsight, I imagine that could have turned out bad for me. I had Tex-Anna by one leash held at arms length, a confused lab in my other hand, and Dante not really understanding what was going on - being held by a stranger. But at the same time I don't know that their was any other way to have handled this, I at least had control of the perceived aggressor.

A quick assessment made me realize the lab was reactive when her owner had her, but not actually aggressive while I was holding her. Tex-Anna had a nice meet/greet so I asked the Pointer lady if she wanted to help the DODA who was still on the ground and completely embarrassed. And told her, "I got this if you want to hand me your dog and mine back."

Now I was holding 4 dogs, all being really nice! Hooray! Crisis averted! The DODA was helped up, we made sure she was ok, and then the Pointer lady left with her dog. I stuck around holding the lab for a while because the woman was pretty shook up. During this time I talked to her about her dog's bad behavior. I offered to work with her and her dog she seemed to like the idea but she never did take me up on it.

As for the regular walks? We stopped seeing her out with her lab, and eventually she moved.

Again I'd like to think that her experience of being dumped by her dog taught her a positive lesson, but I won't hold my breath.

Way to be a great breed ambassador! My golden boy Dante!
If you're a blogger, please join the list and get it out!  If you don't blog, please feel free to leave your story of dumb-assery, tips you suggest in dealing with DADO's, and if you've been one how you changed.     We love to hear from you!

Part 2 of Dumb Ass Dog Owners HERE

Badge courtesy of Mary from Tales from the Backroad


  1. I'm really glad you didn't sugar coat this. People can be ridiculous, and we too have had our share of experiences. One of the reasons why I don't take him to the dog park, I would love to, but there are too many irresponsible owners and I've heard enough horror stories.

    1. Sad but true story, in our case everything I have read about dog parks in specific says that they set bully breeds up for failure because bullies don't generally tolerate bad behavior from other dogs. *raises hand * My Ziva fits in this category.
      Dante is a good sport, he'll shove back and play dominance games if another dogs is doing so (we always end these games, we don't allow such behavior) but he would finish a fight if someone started something.

  2. Oh man do I have some stories - both of others, and myself! What you describe above, yeesh, too common for my liking.

    Had the reverse happen when I was a new dog owner, with a completely zen medium sized dog. I was in an off leash area (a massive recreation area, not a dog park), and we were just minding our business walking along the path. Coming down the path in the opposite direction was a dog on leash. No big deal, we were just walking and minding our own business, but she starts shrieking at me DONT LET YOUR DOG COME OVER! KEEP YOUR DOG AWAY! All panic like. I was all - "okey doke" and my dog and I sort of glance at each other like "what's her problem" (her paranoia kept both of us at a distance!). Sort of wanted to yell back "you do know you're in an off leash area, right?" but didn't bother. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was (DOMO?) at the time, but now I sort of guess she just had a list of bad experiences of some sort.

    But the number of dogs that hate on Mort just for being intense (and minding his own business intensely focused on the toy and me) and are not distracted or managed by their DOMOs is pretty crazy. Fighting the good fight to keep him from becoming reactive, but I think a lot of the equation will boil down to him and luck given it's not always possible to anticipate or handle on my own... or just never playing with the toys until we move to a more remote area or get the gift of a large yard. But that'd be a shame to wait that long.

    1. Man that's hard! But definitely her bad for having a reactive dog in an off-leash area.

      Poor Mort! Ya that's the type of energy that Ziva isn't very fond of, we're currently working on her ignoring it and just pretending the dog doesn't exist. So long as the dog isn't bothering her she in turn isn't allowed to bother the other dog.

  3. Geez, that poor black lab, feeling like it had to protect it's owner. You handled both situations very well and I'm very impressed with Dante's manners. I'm working with my dogs, but it's a slow process.

    The training classes we went to allowed the dogs to run willy nilly to greet each other and most dogs we encounter in the park are the same way, which makes it hard to me to train my dogs to approach others nicely. I could never shove Delilah between my feet or behind me, she would manage to make her way out, especially if the other dog was reacting. That's a sure fire way to get Delilah to react. Thank you for joining the blog hop!!

  4. I would say that you handled both those situations great. Especially the first one where you talked to, and educated the owner.


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