They Only Come Out at Night

They arrived at dusk.  Tonight, the big dogs rule.

The Players

The huge German Shepherd is the first to arrive. This poor guy goes ballistic towards all entering the park.  A poor attempt to deal with this problem has the handler walking the outer perimeter of the park next to the trees instead of the path.  He starts barking and lunging and she does everything wrong.  Once those attempts fail, she tries to stand in front of the dog to block his vision and well, that’s not working for her, either.  Sadly, for them, Plan B is to leave the park.

The Rottie enters from the east.  He is absolutely gorgeous but creepy as he growls at anything within a 50′ radius of him.

Another Shepherd appears.  A smaller, younger version of the first one and just as convincing that he likes his space.  Heard the owner praising him for the growling as we passed them.  What’s up with that?  Oh, it must be that new reality show; “DIY Protection Dog Training” followed by The “Bite Back” legal team infomercial.

In the distance, we spot German Shepherd No. 3 walking a very nice lady. We found out she is open to counseling as we yelled across the street to each other last week as her dog was making every noise imaginable trying to get at my Greyhound.  She asked me to leave a business card in her mailbox.  Said her dog has been this way since the other one passed away about two years ago.   I expressed my sympathy and said we’ll talk soon.  (Her reasoning for the dog’s behavior can be another topic for a future post.)

Next, we have the two unsuspecting Foxhounds.   (They are very sweet; just rambunctious.) The owner comes out at night so he can walk both at once.  These are 75+ lb. dogs and just about anything sets off the barking in hopes of a good chase. He has not a clue as to what he and the boys will run into this evening on the narrow path.

Finally, there is the clueless teen on a skateboard, ear buds intact, walking a 60+ lb. dog while talking on the phone.  All in all, he actually wasn’t doing too badly until his dog decided to “exit stage left” towards the bushes.  He tripped but recovered quickly and probably never missed a beat of the phone conversation.  He has no idea that the first German Shepherd is about 200 feet away and heading right towards them from the opposite side of the wooded trail.

All of them are putting a lot of faith into the equipment they are using

Have you ever really looked at the clip on a leash?  Not a whole heck of a lot going on there.  These clips can break and collar rings have slipped through a faulty clasp.   99 out of 100 should be just fine.  One percent can be defective and it’s not always obvious until it’s too late.  The nylon webbing on a leash can boast a tensile strength of 4,000 lbs. but it doesn’t matter if the clip is stressed.   In many cases, I have recommended they add another clip to the leash and hook both to the collar. (Or, use two leashes; one around the waist and the other held in the usual manner.)

On a positive note (I can only come up with one at this time)

It’s wonderful that these folks are actually spending time with their dogs.  Maybe they picked out the chapter in a book emphasizing the importance of daily walks.  This is why one cannot train a dog by a book alone. We’re always in a hurry and choose to read the chapter that will give us a quick fix.  They have yet to read the important chapters leading “up to and following” the walk.

People will go to great lengths to try everything but ACTUALLY TRAIN THE DOG.

This always amazes me.  They will go to extremes to avoid people and other dogs at the park.  They limit themselves to very early am walks or later in the evening with no guarantee to be the only ones in the area.   With a little work, they could enjoy their dogs so much more.  It’s a shame those that need help are not the regulars that read these posts.

They spend big $$ for the no-pull harnesses, leash in a box, strange collar contraptions, bungee leashes, bark and remote collars, head collars and no-jump harnesses. Most will end up sitting on the shelf at home.  Plus, some of these contraptions require a lot of skill to properly attach to the dog (“properly” is key here) and if the dog is extremely unruly, (which he probably is since you felt the need to invest in this training device) you can just fugggggggggget about it.  These folks have the best of intentions but eventually it’s just too much of a hassle to take the dog for a walk.

As an example, there is a harness has about at least 8 steps to it (hook A to B, wrap 3 times around C) forget D for now and E goes around the ears.  Wrap around each leg 4 times and clasp F back into G and ta da!  You have installed the no-jump harness!  It’s also a no-walk harness, a no-sit harness, a no-lay down harness( because if he does, it might fall off because they forgot to tell you what to do with “D”)   I’ve got an idea here…why not just teach the dog to keep “four on the floor”.  Problem solved.

Here’s the thing…there is going to be a time you don’t have one of these handy-dandy contraptions in your possession and you need to control the dog. There will also be a day you don’t hook up the contraption properly and oops…it falls off mid-walk.   I want my students to be able to walk their dogs on a piece of dental floss if necessary.

Stranger Danger

I’ve written a number of posts regarding the aggression I see out there every day. It begins with a stare, which most novice owners will not recognize or they would (hopefully) stop the bad behavior right there and then.   If the staring is allowed to continue their dogs start revving up by really pulling on the leash either out in front or to the side.  If the handlers still do nothing at this point and allow the dog to keep a tight leash, their dogs are again, totally controlling the situation.   The dogs are now in a frenzy and this starts the chain reaction.

The aggressive dogs view others as “The Intruders”.  They bark and growl and the intruders walk away. The aggressive dog thinks he “wins” every time.  (Picture “mailman syndrome…”) Many handlers are just oblivious or choose to ignore their dog’s aggressive behavior.   Some are outright embarrassed.  Sure, the handler should be able to see the hair going up on their backs but they don’t recognize any of the other subtle signs.  You can see what I am referring to in the September post “Small Dogs are Larger than They Appear”.  This aggressive behavior needs to be stopped at the first signs of trouble.

Let’s say today, the aggressor lunges and catches either one or both of the handlers off guard.  One loses their leash grip.  The other one falls.  Now what?  The bad doggie gets loose and he is so worked up, there’s no stopping him.  I don’t want to see any more newspaper headlines stating “Grandma Hospitalized after Dog Attack” or “Child and Puppy Mauled by Vicious Dog”  because someone thought they were TOO COOL FOR OBEDIENCE SCHOOL!

For now, until your dog has some manners and the hair lies flat on his back…any walking you plan to do with your dog should be done through the door of your local (vet recommended) dog training school!

*Always pick up after your dogs!

Oh no!  It’s that crazy lady with her bags!

*Yesterday, from about a hundred feet away, I offered someone a pickup bag  as they were leaving the scene of the crime.  They literally ran, yes ran, away from me and out of the park.

Content copyright 2010 . My Dog Never Did That Before, Dog Notes, Inc.. All rights reserved.


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