Screaming at Dogs

…has today proved ineffective. We were having a magical walk – well, not magical, but manageable. Saw a black dog chained up in someone’s driveway and thought oh great, here we go with the barking and lunging from both canine parties. But the stranger dog was silent! Phew, I thought. Pnut didn’t notice so I thought we were off scot free.

Until the dog was suddenly right beside us. No human in sight, no leash dragging, nothing. This dog appears to have been loose without supervision in the front yard. I started stuffing pnut with duck as fast and furious as possible (and trust me, I was furious) and decided to yell at the dog to make it go away. I yelled and stuck out my foot in the hopes that this would convince the other dog that I am dangerous or at least not fun. However, it paid me no mind. Now I am starting to fear the other dog trying to steal the food in addition to just being around pnut. Pnut had not barked until I started yelling, which I consider a miracle. But I yelled and he promptly began barking and lunged once at the other dog. This successfully caused retreat of the illegally off-leash dog, and I was able to coax Peanut to also walk away and eat treats treats treats. Then after about 30 seconds of walking away, I heard the dog approaching again. “It can’t be”, I thought to myself. But it was, so this time I picked Peanut up and kept on in the opposite direction of the dog. It did not continue coming up to us.

For one thing, I feel so stupid and guilty for yelling – I think I just scared Peanut more by doing so, thus negating my counter-conditioning efforts. I also feel stupid because there was a guy down the street staring at me. Everyone always stares at me when I am out with pnut because I am feeding him which is not what most people do on walks. I don’t enjoy it, and now I am additionally being stared at for yelling at a random dog which “nicely” approached me. And I imagine that they are laughing at me because I yell, and then pnut yells. One more to add to the list of reasons to feel stupid – I never considered that I may be instilling fears in the other dog. I don’t think dogs should approach strange dogs, but if it is loose without supervision I can’t imagine that there exist many well socialized dogs that wouldn’t come up for a little look. It is unnecessary to potentially plant fears of Jack Russell Terriors or girls with ponytails or whatever else the dog might latch onto. I can’t control whether nutnut reacts and scares the other dog, but I can most certainly control myself.

However, I am at a loss as to what I should have done. I had food and a dog, both of which (presumably) interested this other dog. The dog was not being controlled by anyone, my house was not close, and I am sure that if I walked away, the strange dog would have tagged along. It is ill-advised to pick up a dog being targeted by another, aggressive dog. I don’t know whether picking pnut up would have been the best option. I did it later on because the other dog was far enough away that it wouldn’t have been able to get pnut.

May I just point out that it is illegal and extremely irresponsible to have your dog free and unattended. If pnut was worse behaved, he could have bitten. I expect that the owner, if they saw the interaction, thinks I am crazy and poorly behaved for yelling at their dog. I detest the world of dog. I do not appreciate the super strong feelings I have about dog ownership and training. They make me upset. They make me hate people.

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