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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Which dog owner was right?

Dear Jan,
I was out walking my young German Shepherd on a leash the other day in a park. A man with an off-leash German Shepherd was approaching, and his dog came running toward me and my dog in a very assertive way. I yelled at the dog to "Back off!" and the man got all offended, saying his dog was just trying to be sociable. I apologized, but I'm not sure I should have. Did I handle this situation correctly? I didn't want the dog to start a fight with my dog.

Dear Tori,
YOU were in the right, not the other guy. You had your dog on a leash (which was probably the law in the park) and you were concerned about your own and your dog's safety. It's your RESPONSIBILITY to take charge and head off any confrontation to protect your dog. Your actions were appropriate. Even if it had been a harmless looking golden retriever, it's still prudent to become the "aggressor" and let the approaching dog know his advances are unwelcome.

People are the cause of most dogs' inappropriate behaviors, and many of them are not as "trainable" as their own dogs are! You didn't need to apologize for defending yourself and your dog against the advances of a strange and assertive dog. The other owner should have apologized to you for letting his dog startle you, and for letting his dog run off-leash and away from him.

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