More and more I am seeing unsocialised dogs that misbehave and 9/10 the dogs are off the lead, giving them free reign to do as they please! Even if your dog is extremely well behaved, it shouldn’t be off lead on public footpaths or areas where other dogs may be, simply for the fact that you might know your dog is ok but other owners don’t, just because your dog is well behaved doesn’t mean every dog you come across is. So for your own dogs safety it is best practice to keep it on lead until you reach a destination that is suitable for your dog to be let off. If another dog attacks your well behaved dog while it is off lead you have no means to grab your dog to break the fight up without risking getting bitten. Or your well behaved dog may run away from the attacking dog and end up on the road of oncoming vehicles. There are a number of dangerous situations that could take place – so why risk it?
Dogs that are unsocialised, need to be socialised not only with other dogs and humans but with prams, mobility scooters etc, normal things that you will come across at some point during a walk. If your dog has a fear then as a responsible owner and human being you need to desensitise them to that object, to overcome their fear as when you love someone you want the best for them, you don’t want them to be frightened of things.
I am writing this post as a few days ago I was coming back from a walk with my two dogs, when this dog came charging towards me and when it reached me tried to bite my leg! I managed to move my leg away in time so the bite only resulted in just lifting a couple of layers of skin, which was extremely lucky! Now if I was the owner I wouldn’t have allowed this to occur in the first place but if it had happened I would of been very apologetic to the person and feel ashamed, but this dogs owner just started laughing and said “oh he doesn’t like mobility scooters” and continued to laugh! Obviously the dog had had a similar reaction to mobility scooters previously, in which case why was he not on a lead when the owner saw me coming from a distance? As the dog has a fear which turns into aggression, has it also happened with similar objects like prams or bikes? The situation could have been a lot worse, but there’s no reason why it should have happened at all. What if it had been a child or an elderly person using the scooter or even a non dog owner. Both a child and an elderly person could have been severly hurt, a child as they are small and elderly because their skin is thinner. It was also lucky that my two dogs were on lead at the other side of my scooter from the dog as if my dogs had got bitten I would have went crazy! I phoned the dog warden when I got back to let them know what had happened but they said they couldn’t do anything as I didn’t know the owners name – not exactly the first thing on your mind once you’ve been bitten! However the dog warden phoned me back to say that they had had reports of a dog, fitting the description I gave them, having bitten before, they then asked me what I wanted them to do, if I wanted the dog PTS. I replied saying no I didn’t want the dog put to sleep but I wanted them to do their job and educate the owner!
As our dogs guardians it’s our job to help them overcome any problems to become happy dogs. If your child is scared of something, you’d help them beat it. The difference being your child will not bite somebody as a result of the fear like dogs can. Fear can trigger aggression, is it worth risking getting your dog pts because your too lazy to do what your supposed to as a responsible owner? You don’t want a neurotic dog.
Now this is not to say dogs should be on lead all of the time, I advocate dogs being allowed off lead to run about and use up their energy but only do so in a safe environment, away from roads and public footpaths. As even if your dog is well behaved, you don’t know that the oncoming dog, child or human is! If your dog loves children and runs up to one, you don’t know if that child is used to dogs or fearful. If they’ve not been around dogs they could pull its ears or tail, jump on its back, poke it in the eye and if your dog is not used to being treated like that you don’t know what reaction it will provoke in your dog, a adult could kick your dog, another dog could turn aggressive. Point is you just don’t know what could result, so in this case it really is better safe than sorry.
By attending training classes it allows dogs to socialise from a young age in a safe environment and the sooner you start these the better as it is something that your dog will use its entire life. Also by walking your dog regularly, meeting up with other dog walkers keeps the socialisation up and also gets them used to outside objects like cars, mobility scooters, prams, bikes…..etc. Dogs gauge your reaction to things as well to see if they need to be fearful, inquisitive or relaxed. So when you come across something your dog is unsure of, ensure you walk past these objects more often until it provokes no reaction, whilst walking past the item give your dog treats to distract them and keep them calm. Also there are agility classes and flyball classes which both socialises and exercises your dog including making it use its brain.
There is lots of information on dog training on the Internet, just do a Google search or visit this website which has an abundance of great training techniques and advice from dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell – www.positively.com If you think the training is beyond your help then there are behaviourists that will help rehabilitate your dog.