Is your beloved dog aggressive toward other dogs? Would you like to take him for a walk but dread the inevitable confrontation with any dog nearby?
I have a wonderful dog that promised a home to more than 6 years ago that is dog aggressive. In every other way, she is the most well-behaved dog. I would not give her up for anything.
It has been a struggle at times and still is, to some degree, to get her exercised. But I am committed to her. Her name is Mary and she is an Akita/Spitz mix. A beautiful dog for sure but an aggressive one to other dogs to say the least. I got her at the county shelter when she was 3 years old. I did not know she was dog-aggressive until about 3-4 weeks later when she started acting out toward any dog that she saw or heard.
My other dog and I introduced her into our home and all went well. Mary did not show the slightest aggression toward Sampson in fact, they got along great! I have heard this is usually the case when bringing a dog into a home with an established pet. But taking her for walks started to become a hassle because of her determination to ‘get at’ the dog she probably saw as a threat. At one point she lunged out the front door and bit the neighbors dog on the butt!
This issue with Mary has caused me great anxiety. I feel very nervous when taking her for a walk because I am afraid of other dogs who might be off-leash. I get fearful when walking by a house with a garage door open or people working in their yard in the summertime. I am constantly vigilant about what’s up ahead or around the corner, scanning the streets for any sudden movements. And when there is a sudden, unexplained rustle in the bushes or sound of a jingling leash my heart races. It has also taken a physical toll on me as well.
Aren’t walks supposed to be an enjoyable time to get out in the fresh air and feel rejuvenated? In the past I did not look forward to a nice, leisurely walk with Mary. But I am a dog-walking advocate, so her need for exercise outweighed my unrealistic fear of confrontation. After all, there are things people can do when walking a dog-aggressive dog.
Mary showed me that she could get used to other dogs. She was not aggressive towards Sampson although she thought of herself as the alpha dog. They were the best of pals. Another dog lived across the street from us was not an excitable dog and never showed any action or movement toward Mary so she was ok with that. A few months after Sampson passed away, I introduced Mary to a puppy because I knew that Mary could accept another dog.
Rudi was an 8 week old puppy that I rescued from the local shelter. When I made the introductions, Mary was growling at Rudi-through the crate of course. I made sure that Mary saw that Rudi was not a threat to the pack and that Rudi was safe. In a few days, they were playing on the floor together! I speculate that Mary was taken from her litter too soon and did not evolve socially. Poor thing!
This is a work in progress and I will never be able to take her to the dog park. Everyday, we go for a walk. I make sure to take her in a neighborhood that has the least amount of dog activity. This takes some investigative work but well worth the time. Also, I make sure the street is wide enough and has a sidewalk or somewhere to cross over when there’s an oncoming dog. I have a neighborhood that I drive to to take Mary for a walk because it has very little distractions and very wide roads that have sidewalks on either side.
Mary wears a harness that is easy for me to contain her lunging. I make her sit and we wait until the other dog has passed. Or we turn around and start walking the other direction. Time of day matters too. We go when others are less likely to be walking their dogs.
I was beginning to think I had the only dog that was dog-aggressive. As I walk the neighborhood, I realize that I’m not the only one. It seems to be a common issue but there are things you can do to minimize the anxiety or fear of an altercation. I want people to take their dogs for a walk. It take a little extra work but if we are going to be dog owners, we owe it to their health and well-being. AND….we made a commitment to them. We can’t just stick them in the backyard and call it good.
Please know that you can be safe and still take your dog-aggressive dog for a walk. They are not deliberately trying to make your life miserable. They just don’t know or haven’t been trained socially. There are also plenty of professional dog walkers that you can call to consult with and hire them to walk your dog. Some Acupressure techniques can also help to calm and focus your dog before the walk!