I noticed a photo on my Facebook news feed this morning. It was a fairly nasty dog bite. The gentleman had been down the park when he noticed a dog off the lead. This dog is normally always kept on a lead and he was quite surprised to see it running around. He approached the owner who was stood next to another man who apparently ‘fancied himself as a dog expert’.
He asked the owner of the loose dog if she had now done training and socialised the dog more. She replied she hadn’t and her heart was pounding but said ‘dog expert’ told her that there was nothing wrong with the dog and that it was her nerves that had created the problem.
Within a few seconds, this ladies dog was attacking the dog bite man’s dog and you can guess what happened! He tried to separate the dogs and put his hand out, CHOMP!!!
There are two warnings to this story.
First of all dog fights can be very hard to break up and you shouldn’t put yourself at risk doing so but that is easier said than done. I can honestly say I would take a dog bite for my dog, luckily the occasion has never arisen.
I have thought about how I would deal with the situation if it ever happened. Luckily my dog is only 15kg so if needs be I can pick her up and that is probably what I would do. However, by doing this I may put myself at risk from the dog biting me but as I said, I think I would be willing to take that risk for her.
But before we talk about the actual act of a dog fight we need to talk about how we prevent dog fights from even starting. The number one thing I wish more people knew about in this circumstance is body language. If you can read a dog’s body language you may be more likely to know its intentions.
I was only talking about this in my puppy class last night. In my puppy classes we not only teach basic obedience like sit and wait but we also teach the puppies skills to live in our world. We try to prevent noise sensitivity and guarding among other things.
Last night we did our food bowl exercise which creates a positive association with someone approaching the puppy when eating. I asked what signs we would see if the puppy wasn’t happy. We got a few good answers but quite a few people don’t know. That’s fine, they are at my puppy class, after all, so I can teach them but there are hundreds of dog owners that don’t have this knowledge.
If they can’t read their own dog's body language then they are very unlikely to be able to read different dogs.
So go out, watch your dog’s interact, watch how the other dogs react. If your dog goes out with a dog walker and you get the chance, I would highly recommend going out with them and watching your dog and the others. Do some research on stress signals and body language.
If you would like to know more then contact me.
I’ll talk about the other warning from this story later.