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Sully doesn't like excited puppies...

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Hi folks, we've had our 4 year old adopted grey Sully for 7 months now and on the whole he is growing every day in himself and we are all starting to understand each other and have a good routine down.  Perhaps unusually for a grey he loves his walks and thrives on really long ones, I walk roughly 20-25 miles a week with him and my wife does another 15 or so on average, so he's doing 35-40 miles a week (on a long leash) and I've lost 20lbs in the process which is great!

We have been working on his reactivity towards certain types of dog and he's definitely much better.  He will walk past most dogs now and we reward this with a biscuit, however there are a few specific types of situation that Sully really hates and we feel a powerless to control them because they mainly come about as a result of other dogs' behaviour.  Sully doesn't seem to like energetic spaniel type dogs, or puppies that are over friendly.  I've had two instances where he has grabbed dogs aggressively and I have not been in a position to do much about it.  The first was last year when I was in a park (not a dog park, but just a normal park with kids play equipment etc) and a woman came in to the area with a small puppy and immediately let it off the lead.  The first thing is did was race up to Sully and start getting in his face.  This triggered Sully's rigid body, stiff tail and pricked ears stance and then Sully grabbed the puppy and started growling and shaking it.  It squealed a lot and I had to intervene to get Sully to let it go.  The puppy owner was apologetic and said "It's his first time out of the house".  I had to bite my tongue not to tell her how stupid she was to let a new puppy off leash in a public place when she had no control over it.

Then not long ago a not dissimilar situation, I was walking home along the lane our house is on and a neighbour had his springer spaniel puppy with him out the front of his house.  As I walked past the puppy ran across the road to get to Sully, the owner was calling their dog but it took no notice at all.  Exactly the same thing happened as above, same reaction from Sully.  This time the spaniel owner was apologetic and said that it would teach his pup a lesson, but I still felt bad.  It really annoys me that so many people have their dogs off the leash in public, especially puppies and especially when they can't actually control them!  I don't want to make Sully wear his muzzle because he doesn't like it.  I do if we're going in a very public place where there may be a lot of dogs, but not out on country walks.

When lockdown is relaxed I really do want to take Sully to some socialisation classes, but that's not an option at the moment.  Is there much else I can do?



Edited by GreyKnight
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I had a similar situation when I first had Grace. Some young children were exercising their small hairy dog in the park off the lead and it came running up to Grace upsetting her especially as she'd spent three years of her life trying to catch something similar. The hairy rat was too excited to come when called and when eventually it was back on it's lead I expressed my thoughts about having a dog off the lead when you can't control it.

To get Grace used to dogs of any size I would ask the other owners we met when walking if she could say hello but only those on their leads so if things didn't go as planned no harm would be done.

Grace (Ardera Coleen) b. 18 June 2014 - Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 - Going grey gracefully
Guinness (Antigua Rum) b. 3 September 2017 - Gotcha Day 18 March 2022 - A gentleman most of the time


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Buddy is exactly the same with dogs that get in his face. He tolerates it for a while but then he lets them know that he’s had enough. He snaps loudly and very quickly and invariably looks much worse than it really is. I have got past the point where I worry about other people’s dogs who are off the lead (unless they are bigger than Buddy :lol). I let them know that Buddy may snap at their dog if they are over friendly and leave it at that. He usually proves me wrong and is as good as gold but when he isn’t I shrug my shoulders and give the owners a look as if to say ‘I did tell you’. I wouldn’t like it if a strange human ran up to me to greet me enthusiastically so why should my dog?

The other suggestion you could try - not sure if you have already - is trying to get Sully to ‘watch you’ as a distraction when the other dog approaches and treat him then. I learnt this from a Patricia McConnell book on kindle - I think it was called ‘the feisty fido’. It might give you a bit of thinking time and allow Sully to realise that the approaching dog is neither threat nor plaything.

Buddy Molly 🌈 5/11/10-10/10/23

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  • 3 months later...

I have the same reaction with my Grey, and honestly the best thing you can do as the owner is not allow the situation to occur. 

If you’re out at the park and you see an off leash, troublesome dog, you’ll have to get yourself between the offending dog and your own, and keep them away. I have no shame in admitting I’ve kicked away several small dogs that just didn’t get the hint, since it’s better than a large Grey reacting out of fear / anxiety. 

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Sorry you’re having issues with inconsiderate owners.  It is not Sullys fault…she was bred to chase and catch. 

I do agree with the above…. Be on high alert for loose dogs and then turn and walk the other way.  I used to carry a long dressage whip with me when walking down a road with a loose dog.  It got a couple of good smacks more than once. 

As already suggested, you should start working on the ‘watch me’ command.   Patricia McConnells  ‘Feisty Fido’ is a wonderful book with good ideas. 


Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Joshi.  Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) Nigel (Nigel), and especially little Mario, waiting at the Bridge.




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