I was out walking my troublemaker this week (the one posted in my picture) working on a bit of socialization and environment changes. While we were out, we ran across a situation that I think most owners don't think to train for. I wanted to post about it because I think it's something we should all prepare for. It takes less than a second for your dog to bite someone and it is your responsibility to do everything you can to prevent this.
In my area, we have a lot of special needs group homes. While we were walking, we came upon an individual who is frequently out in the community. Doesn't seem like a big deal, right? Well, for us it may not have been, but for other dogs it is often a preable for disaster.
One of the things I've been teaching my guy is how to properly meet and greet people (and dogs too). Sounds so simple, eh? If it's so simple, then why do so many dogs bite?
Now, for a little clarification, "meet and greet" doesn't just mean a person standing and we can walk up to them. This means we can allow people of various shapes, sizes and styles to walk up to us and we can walk up to them (without negative reactions). I want my guy to be able to deal with any situation that arises ...
He should be ok with children walking up to him
He should be ok with them running screaming by him
Or the person pushing a stroller (screaming child or no)
Or the person with a grocery cart (maybe the local bag-lady?)
Or the smelly guy who lives at the corner
Or the super neat freak lady who lives across from the laundry mat and always smells like detergent
And yes, he should also be able to deal with the special needs individual who comes lumbering up to meet him saying, in a squeaky voice that sounds somewhat like a chipmunk, "Hello Dog! Hello! Hello Dog! My name is Tony! Hello! Hello Dog!"
It is up to me as the handler to give my dog the tools that he can use to deal with these situations. I have been teaching him how to deal with different scenarios and different people. He was so very well behaved when meeting Tony earlier in the week.
While we were chatting, Tony told me about the last time he was bitten by a dog (he's been bitten many times but doesn't understand why). Last time, the dog barked at him while he was walking along the street. Perhaps many of us are saying to ourselves that he should have stopped walking, but he didn't know to do that. The important thing that you must keep in mind is ... *He didn't know* He told me that he thought that the dog's barking was ok and that the dog wouldn't bother him. Unfortunately, the owner (who was on the other end of the leash) didn't realize the potential danger of what was going on and didn't control her dogs very well. Tony continued walking along the sidewalk and the dogs nailed him on both legs. There were puncture wounds on both legs and much bruising.
Tony was bitten. It could have been a child. Was the dog quarantined? No. The owner disappeared quietly. Will this happen again? Probably.
I want everyone out there to be aware of the potential danger that a situation like this may present. It could happen at any time. When Tony lumbered up in his swinging and staggering walk, my dog sat down and waited just as I asked. If my guy had lunged or barked ... I don't know what the reaction would have been from Tony. Who knows. I couldn't have controlled Tony or his reaction. All I can control is my dog and myself.
My point is ...
You can't expect every person to know how to properly interact with your dog so therefore it is your job as a dog owner to teach your dog how to properly interact with people - ANY people.