Saturday evening I was walking Sampson and Delilah. As always I was on high alert watching for potential triggers.
As we rounded a corner I saw it, a little Jack Russell on the other side of the street. I recognized the dog at once, as one we usually pass in his yard. He always barks at us and is usually jumping and biting at the fence.
We were about 30 feet away when the woman walking him had him sit.
I have a big problem with my dogs walking past other dogs. Typically if the other dog is in their yard I can coax my dogs off with a cookie. If the other dog is on leash, it’s a whole different story!
Sampson is typically worse than Delilah. He wants, no he NEEDS to meet that other dog. He starts jumping and bucking like a freaking bronco. One of course feeds off the other, so then Delilah starts in. She usually lunges and barks.
This is how I found myself literally wrestling my dogs up the street. I had Sampson by his harness in my left hand and Delilah somehow managed to squeeze herself between my legs, so I had her harness in my right hand.
I could hear the woman speaking to her dog, it didn’t sound good but I had my hands full and couldn’t really look.
We got past the dog but I knew we had a bigger problem. I knew where the other dog lived, and I knew we were going to pass the dog again. I practiced calling the dogs back to me and giving them cookies. I got a handful of cookies ready thinking maybe if I threw the cookies in the road, the dogs would concentrate on that and leave the other dog.
Sure enough we turned the corner for home and there they were. She downed her dog and I threw a treat in the road and my dogs exploded. Sampson bucked like a bull with a rider on and Delilah lunged. As I tried wrestling the dogs past her, I said “We have to get better at this.”
She responded, “He’s aggressive with other dogs.”
Oh and he was on a retractable leash, but I didn’t realize that until she accidentally dropped it. Suddenly the game had changed.
Here he came creeping at my dogs. So I dropped my leashes.
The woman was upset and I said, “It’s okay.” And it was for the first few seconds and then her dog snarked at Delilah and Delilah gave it right back.
I had managed to find my way across the street and called Delilah, who came right back to me. Sampson was a bit harder but eventually he came. It was over in less than a minute.
My dogs were now standing docilely by my side. The woman’s dog was in a down and then she bent over, she had her palm raised as if she was going to hit him and she said, “Bad boy!”
“Please don’t hit him,” I begged.
She looked up at me and said, “I took him to a trainer who told me to shake this in his face when he does that.” She opened her palm to show me a small chain, similar to what you would use when chaining a dog outside. “I don’t actually hit him.” She finished almost sheepishly.
I was horrified. Here this woman reached out for help with her dog and she was given advice that was traumatizing her dog even more. I tried to explain as best I could how I felt it was not the right thing to do for this issue. That her dog was probably frightened and didn’t understand why she was punishing him. I told her I use lots of treats and I thought a positive trainer would be able to help her and her dog. I finished by giving the the name of a positive training center not too far from us.
I’ve given lots of thought to this incident since it happened. How I could work my dogs better, how I could get them to react differently. I’ve thought about going to her house (minus my dogs of course) and giving her my card and asking her to e-mail me so I can forward some blog posts that might help her understand what’s going on with her dog.
I also considered seeing if she wants to practice walking our dogs past each other, maybe help each other out.