A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.
- Max Lucado
Yesterday Sparta and I went on our normal walk through the neighborhood. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a small, snarling, black and white dog came charging at us. Now, considering I had all 100 lbs. of Sparta to protect me against this 10 lb “threat”, I was not too concerned about my safety. Quite the opposite: I was worried about what Sparta would do.
Sparta and I have been working hard on her dog-reactivity issues, but there’s only so much a dog can take. When a stranger comes running up to you with a knife, are you going to be a pacifist? Even if someone you trust tells you it’s okay? It’s pretty difficult. So in an instant, I went into full-on damage control mode. I “slammed the door”, as described here, on Sparta, essentially, telling her that no, this wasn’t a threat (even though it sure as sugar looked like one!). I positioned my body in such a way to block Sparta’s line of vision from the approaching dog, staying right in her face, but maintaining a calm, bored expression. I had to convince her this wasn’t a threat, and tight, rigid body language wouldn’t cut it.
The dog came right up to us, shoved its nose in Sparta’s derriere, and then ran back to its owner who was following behind, trying to keep up with their dog. This was a major accomplishment for Sparta, who obviously didn’t like it, but stared at me the whole time with a “Is this ok? Is he allowed to do this?” look on her face. “Well, Sparta, no it isn’t ok, but it’s not the dog’s fault. Just let it slide”.
Anyone who has ever dealt with a dog who is dog reactive knows how dangerous a situation like that can be, especially when your dog weighs almost as much as a person. I was bursting with pride for my girl.
So what should you do if you see another dog approaching who is off-leash? I was fortunately able to deduce rather quickly that the dog wasn’t a threat to us, and the worst that could happen would have happened to that other dog. However, what if the situation were reversed, and I was walking all five pounds of Orion, and a 100 lb. dog came rushing at us? That’s a different story.
This article below perfectly describes how to react in such a situation. While I hope you never have to put any of these tips to use, it’s always good to have a lot of tools in your toolbox, so give it a read.
Have you ever felt threatened by a dog off-leash? What did you do? Leave your story in the comment box below.
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio