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How To Handle Encounter With Loose, Reactive Dog


Guest gretchenlamb
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Guest gretchenlamb

Hi:

 

I am a new dog owner, and my husband and I recently (3 months) adopted ~5 year old Female greyhound which we renamed Truffle. Truffle has largely adjusted to living with us and has had some basic obedience training. She has high prey drive.

 

I would like to know what I can do to protect my dog when we encounter a lose and reactive dog. What can I do to prevent my dog from being hurt by the other dog, and to prevent my dog from hurting the other dog, particularly a smaller dog. I'm looking for comments and suggestions for general scenarios as well as those specific to my recent encounter. Thank you!

 

The scenario that prompted my question is this: I live in a pet-friendly apartment complex. While my husband was out walking Truffle one night, a lose and reactive papillon-looking dog came charging at them, barking, circling, and attempting to snip Truffle. My husband was taken by surprise and he did the best to hold Truffle close while trying to get between the two dogs, but it was hard given the speed of the small dog. Had the owner not appear quickly, we could've had a potentially serious situation. We were fortunate that Truffle did not react aggressively toward the dog and the situation was diffused before it escalated. Unfortunately, my husband was taken in such a surprise and was so busy trying to get between the dogs that he didn't capture Truffle's body language fully. He said that her tail did get very low, which may be a reaction to him yelling at the other dog. She didn't bark or growl. Beyond some obvious problems in this situation (dog that got off lead!?), I'm distrubed that the papillon could've been potential prey to my hound.

 

Concerning my hound's prey drive: Truffle has seen many small dogs walked (on leash) in the neighborhood and tend to leave them alone even when they're barking at her from a distance. We have not yet have the opportunity to socialize her with small dogs in a controlled manner at close distance to condition her. We were probably lucky that her prey instinct did not kick in...

 

Thanks for any suggestions.

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There are a number of past threads on this very subject since it is a common problem. Enter "loose dog" or "aggressive dog" in the search box with the quotes and you will find lots of posts about the items people carry to ward off aggressive dogs.

 

People here carry everything from dog repellent or pepper spray, to riding crops, tasers and firearms depending on their local laws. The main thing is to find what works to make the dog turn around and go the other way before it gets near your hound. Hound skin tears easily, and if the loose dog gets close enough to get in altercation, it can be deadly. (Not trying to scare you, but for the most part we are realists about the danger that loose aggressive dogs present to the hounds.)

 

I carry Halts2 dog repellent which shoots a 10 -15 foot stream, and either a walking stick or riding crop. Since we are in the People's Republic of Illinois, we are severely restricted as to the items we are allowed to legally carry.

 

Welcome to GreyTalk. Don't let the responses on this topic scare you. It boils down to what works for you.

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As for the "luck" that your dog's prey drive didn't kick in - do you actually know that she's small-dor reactive or is that an assumption? If she hasn't become focused on small dogs before, it may be that your dog is fine with well mannered small dogs and knows that they're *dogs* and not prey or toys. Just watch her when you see a small dog on leash near you, and see if you can get her attention, see if she focuses on the small dog or if she looks and seems to do a "doggie shrug" and turn away on her own. Some small-animal-unfriendly dogs will become very focused at large distances, and some will only get that way at short distances when they think there's "a chance" to get them. Not all greyhounds have the drive for the "little white fluffies" (as those of non-small-dog-safe hounds will often call them) and may be perfectly fine with a well-mannered one.

 

That said, I'm glad that the little dog didn't get your girl, and that your girl didn't decide to teach the obnoxious thing a lesson (which might be fatal at such a size difference, even if your girl didn't intend for it to be). And I hope the owner of the papillon doesn't lose his control over it when a reactive dog IS around, no matter the type.

 

Sometimes you have to pull out protection (sprays or sticks of a sort), but sometimes you can convince a dog to turn away if you holler at it. But probably not when they're already in a frenzy, as the little pap seemed to have been. Then it's all about prevention and dissuasion of a firmer sort. There are citronella sprays that you can use, and sometimes pepper sprays (depending on your local ordinances, that is), and sometimes a walking stick or even a tazer or something. Check your local ordinances to see what is legal in your area before settling on something. (I'm kind of lucky that Monty is completely non-dog reactive, and that he has a little "sister" keeshond that is fully willing and determined to protect him if needs be. She's smaller, but with all of her fur she has more protection against something biting her than he does!)

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If there is small dog prey drive evdient (ask your local rehoming group) then muzzle your Grey in areas where random lose dogs occur. Half of the problem is then solved and you can holler at the offender with much higher concentration and scare the little 'B' away.

I carry a walking stick or on wet days an umbrella - the latter being a formidable deterrent if you onen it up as the other dog approaches.

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I carry mace on my keychain and for little dogs will kick hard enough to send them flying for a few feet and haven't ever had to spray any larger dogs yet *fingers crossed* I love the idea of carrying a riding crop, but just don't have the hands for it. Luckily both dogs are pretty good about standing still while I try to teach the rude little monsters manners :hehe

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I've encountered a lose dog before, and I torn the owner of the dog a new hole...you won't see that dog off leash in a residential area ever again ;) I am the nastiest person on the planet when a lose dog comes charging towards us. Usually a big yell "NO!" will stop a dog, and stand your ground, feet firm make yourself look scary!

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Guest jbbuzby

I too carry pepper spray. As for muzzling your dog...you as an owner do have every right to walk your dog as long as it is on a leash. If a stray dog approaches your dog and the other dog gets hurt, you are not in the wrong, since you were the one being responsible with the leashed dog. If you are going to be in a place that might have smaller dogs around, sure, by all means, have your hound wear a muzzle if it makes you feel better. But otherwise, it doesn't seem like you should have to because other people can't control their dogs. Just my two cents ;).

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I'm not sure I would muzzle my dog. If things do escalate, my dog would have no way to protect itself. Keeping yours on a short leash helps because you at least have control of your dog and then carrying a big stick or mace or something along those lines gives you extra protection. Check and make sure there are leash laws in your area and then if another dog runs at you and doesn't listen to your warnings you can use whatever you have at your disposal to protect your dog and the responsibility for the other dog lies with their owner. If their dog gets hurt then it should have been on a leash and nothing would have happened.

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I understand the idea of muzzling your dog, but doesn't that make it defenseless in case a really nasty lose dog comes along?

 

I have had lose dogs come tearing at us, including a big Lab. I started yelling expletives at them as well as had one leg raised, fully prepared to kick the s**t out of them, and they'd all either turn around and run back to where they came from or at least were impressed enough to move away and stay away.

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Guest gretchenlamb

Thanks all, for the helpful suggestions!

 

I hope the papillon incident is a one-time issue since the owner was genuinely apologetic. We do go on weekly trail walks and encounter off leash dogs (usually unreactive) from time to time so I just want to be prepared. I think I will get a hiking stick and pepper spray compliant with NJ. I've seen enough pictures of greyhound injuries and read enough Lexus Project cases to be very concerned...

 

Fruitycake: I've seen her prey-mode set in with outdoor cats, rabbits, and squirrels (rarely). The first week she came home, we naively had her a bit too close to a shih-tzu (maybe 3 feet?) and she huffed and puffed, and tried to charge. However, since then, she has been largely unreactive and unattentive to small dogs on lead in the neighborhood, albeight, we keep at least a good leash length distance away from them for precaution. I'm not sure how she would respond to a small dog at reaching distance and frankly am afraid to find out without guidance from someone with experience in dog behavior and body language.

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Things I've found that have worked for barking, loose dogs:

 

(1) Throw a handful of treats at them, saying "Treats!" (This was suggested by a dog trainer online, but for me it has only been semi-effective depending on how dog-aggressive the other dog is)

(2) Say, in a really bright and cheerful voice "Hi puppy!" This sometimes confuses them into thinking you are friend, not foe.

 

I really should carry a big stick but we have been lucky that all loose dogs in our neighborhood have been little, and Batman is friendly towards dogs. I've also simply adjusted my walk path to avoid people who regularly let their dogs loose.

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I always carry a stick. If waving the stick doesn't scare the dog away, it can always be used as a barrier or as a weapon (as bad as I'd feel actually hitting the dog, if it's between a strange dog or my dog, I'll pick my dog any day). Just be careful not to whack yourself in the head with it - I've done this a couple times. Not fun!

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Guest kkaiser104

We've run into a few in the past month, and I always have just loudly yelled "No!" or "Get Away!" Usually they are smart enough to know that a person yelling=bad. Teddi is not at all dog aggressive, so that helps too. He just ignores them. Good luck!

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Yeah. I wish Paige had the same level of 'high prey drive' as yours does.

 

Loose dogs are a nightmare for me because both of mine are reactive. Paige is also high prey drive and dominant - she will attempt to intimidate and boss every other dog around her. My strategy is to walk the other way. Alternatively, I shorten both leashes and shout at the other dog, although this sometimes escalates my dogs' behaviour.

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