This blog post is not so much about Leo & Harley as much as it’s about me! I have a fear of large dogs…
But here’s the twist – my fear isn’t for myself it’s out of concern for The Boys…
Today I realized I have no idea what I would do OR what I’m supposed to do, should a larger dog approach us aggressively.
Our Sunday morning walks typically start much earlier to give me plenty of time to take care of them and still make it to church. With daylight savings time, it’s barely dawn when the garage door goes up as we start our day.
We’re creatures of habit on our morning constitutionals – we pee on the same bush, sniff the same pole and poop practically in the same vicinity – generally at one of three corners. This Sunday, our walk abruptly changed its course when I saw a man walking two dogs headed in our direction…
The length of six houses separated us from what I “sized-up” rapidly as two HUGE dogs weighing no less than 100 pounds each. These dogs were not fluff mops like Leo, I’m talking “lean mean tail wagging machines.” The dog walker stopped when he saw us and at the same time both dogs froze and stared.
“Thank the Doodle”, my two didn’t see them. There were some interesting “stuff” tucked underneath some fresh fallen leaves that seemed to keep them occupied.
The dog walker stepped off the sidewalk and stood in the gutter with his dogs hidden behind the SUV parked in front of them. I acknowledged him with a head nod, and he did the same.
I don’t think I’m crazy, but it almost seemed as if he wanted to hide his dogs visibility from my dogs. I (now wide awake) quickly assessed that there was absolutely no reason to push the envelope by continuing in their direction, so I turned around and headed back where I came from.
When Harley stopped to pee “again”, I looked behind me in enough time to see him stop walking also. He was still about the same distance away from us. We were almost to the corner when Harley stopped to poop, I looked back again, to see him stop – “again.” His dogs never barked, they just stared, but not in a “we want to play” way. It was obvious he thought it best to maintain plenty of space between the dogs.
And before you ask, I doubt seriously if he was afraid for his dogs safety!
The remainder of our walk was uneventful, but all day long I couldn’t stop thinking: “what in the doodle do I do, if we are approached by an aggressive dog.”
I read a few articles, but they really didn’t describe me. I cannot see myself “letting go of their leashes” for my safety? Harley’s legs couldn’t sustain a dog twice his size munching on it like a “two piece” special from KFC.
I know myself, I’m gonna get engaged. Then what?
Here’s what I found from ALou Patterson, Yahoo Contributor Network
PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR DOG FROM OTHER DOGS WHILE TAKING A WALK
Three Simple Steps Will Prepare You to Face an Aggressive Dog
“Taking your dog for a walk is supposed to be a pleasant experience for you both. It’s a time for you to bond with your dog and for the two of you to get some exercise. But what would you do if another dog attacked you and your dog? Are you prepared to protect yourself and your dog while out on a walk? A friend of mine has three very small dogs and recently had to deal with this type of situation.
She was walking with her three Chihuahua-mixes at the local high-school athletic field when a very large dog spotted them and started to run over. My friend is a bit timid, but is very protective of her beloved friends, yet she was unprepared to face an aggressive dog. Fortunately in this instance, the owner of the larger dog was nearby and was able to get it under control. Perhaps the dog was friendly and just curious, but my friend had no idea whether the outcome of such an encounter would have ended badly or not. Her first response was fear, which the large dog would have sensed immediately. Making matters worse, her little dogs are typical for their breed: fearless and vocal. This combination of factors would have likely caused the larger dog to react defensively. It could have been a very bad ending indeed.
So what should you do to be prepared to defend yourself and your dog (or dogs) while you’re out walking?
First and foremost, be prepared to keep a calm but assertive posture at the approach of any dog. Dogs sense fear, but they also sense a dominant energy. How you feel and how you hold yourself are your first line of defense. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Don’t be afraid to “puff yourself up” a bit. Don’t yell or scream at the dog. Use only an authoritative, assertive voice to command the dog to get back. In most cases, this will be enough to maintain control over the situation as long as you have control over your own dog.
So secondly, if you don’t already, you need to learn how to walk your dog(s) properly. If your dog is in the lead and out in front of you, especially if he or she is pulling at the leash, you are not in control of your dog. This goes back to your energy. You must always project a calm and assertive energy toward your dogs, especially during a walk, which elevates you to the leader. If you don’t already have control of your dog during walks, it may be time for both of you to get some training. Whether you receive formal obedience training (and use commands such as “heel” and “stay”) or just learn to master the walk by watching experts such as Victoria Stilwell on Animal Planet (It’s Me or The Dog) or Cesar Milan on The National Geographic Channel (The Dog Whisperer), you’ll find that you and your dog enjoy taking walks together more with you in charge.
Third, consider carrying either dog repellent spray or regular pepper spray with you every time you take your dog out for a walk. As I mentioned above, your calm, assertive energy and being in control of your dog will, in most cases, be enough to handle any dog that approaches you. It’s better to be safe, however, than sorry. In case feelings of fear overtake you, and you lose control over your dogs, or the dog that approaches you is in full-attack mode for whatever reason, dog repellent spray may very well save your dog or you from serious injury.
Mace Brand makes an excellent dog repellent spray called Muzzle. This pepper spray is EPA approved, is safe, effective and humane. It’s also easy to use and convenient to carry, either on your belt or key chain. You can spray it up to 10 feet away from the offending canine.
If you need to use the spray, be prepared to spray your own dog as well, unless you have time to spray the attacking dog before it reaches you and your dog. Don’t worry about harming your dog. Dog repellent sprays, which are simply pepper sprays formulated specifically for use against dogs, are made to be effective, but cause only temporary discomfort. Aim for the attacker’s eyes. Once you’ve used the spray, the aggressive dog should back down immediately and focus on its stinging eyes. If you feel it’s necessary, spray the dog again, make sure you have your dog in control and back away slowly. Resist the urge to run. Take a deep breath, and calmly remove yourself and your dog from the situation.
Do your best to avoid yelling and screaming during any encounter with a dog. Remember that you are supposed to remain calm and assertive and any other response will only serve to escalate the aggression. Speak with assertiveness and authority and only loud enough to get your point across.
You don’t have to be paranoid when out walking with your dog, just prepared. Think through a scenario where you may have to face an aggressive dog. Imagine yourself staying calm and assertive. Imagine yourself using the dog repellent spray and then removing yourself and your dog from the situation. Chances are, you may never have to deal with an aggressive dog, but if you have a plan of action, you’ll be ready to defend yourself and your canine companion. Above all, enjoy the time you spend with your dog. Their lives are short, which only makes them more precious. Now … go hug your dog!”
I’ve never seen this dog walker or his dogs before, but its made me think that I need a plan. I do not walk with a stick or a baseball bat. I’m doing good managing Harley, Leo, and Wilson – HA!…
What do YOU carry with you? What’s YOUR plan (God forbid) if you’re walking your dog and encounter an aggressive “larger” dog in your path?
I also found a link (worth reading) with some helpful information for “anyone” with the misfortune of coming in contact with an aggressive dog “of any size” while taking a walk…
Until I can figure out what will work for me and my Boys, I guess DH will have to join us on Sunday mornings for a while…
Thanks for reading, and please share your thoughts – I’m really interested.