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I'm sorry if this is in the wrong place but I'm not sure where else it fits. I would like to begin this story by saying how proud I am of my dog who I'm currently training because he remained calm and listened to me even though I was stressed. Tonight as I was walking my small dog and doing basic training, there was a mom, dad, and 16 (ish) years old walking on the opposite side of the street towards us. The mom had a small terrier type dog on a retractable leash (ugh!). The little dog began barking and lunging at Harley (my dog). The 16 year old was walking a large black lab (looked pretty young) on an easy walked harness with a normal leash. As a habit from previously training a dog aggressive dog, the second I saw another dog coming I kept my eye on them without staring. When the dog was at least 50 yards away, I began noticing the behavior. The large dog was distracted and focused on my little dog even from that distance, the girl did nothing to regain his attention. As they got closer, the large dog began behaving worse. As they were about 15 feet away on the opposite side of the street, the dog began pulling and twisting in his harness in an attempt to get to my dog. Now both of those dogs were barking and struggling to get to me and Harley. The mom continued dragging the small dog as she walked then turned to tell her daughter in a harsh voice to get the dog under control. Watching the large dog's body language, he was not aggressive but excited to see another dog. The small dog was displaying aggressive body language. The girl pulled the leash very short then grabbed the dog's ear on the side closest to me. She was pushing the dog so far the other direction, physically twisting his head to the point where he fell over sideways if that makes sense. Still holding his head down by his ear, she began hitting him with her other hand and shouting, "No! Bad dog! Bad!" By the time she had stopped, my dog and I had walked at least 30 feet away. I considered saying something but decided not to for my safety and my dog's safety. I'm a teenager so I do have the issue of people not taking what I say seriously. The weird thing was, I didn't recognize these people. I live in a small neighborhood where everyone knows who I am, even neighbors who don't know my name refer to me as the dog whisperer or dog trainer girl. I wish I had said something and I'm regretting not speaking up more and more. If I see them again, what should I do? I can't ignore it if I see them again but I don't even know what I would say so hopefully someone here can give me advice. Thanks!
 

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it wasn't the time... best thing you did was keep going and not make it worse under the circumstances that it was your dogs presence causing the reaction. The best thing you could do for those other dogs was to leave.

now if you see them under different circumstances without your dog or even better without their dogs, yes do offer your understanding and your assistance to help.
 

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Her reaction to her dog's misbehaving was over the top. I believe in making my dog "cut the crap" but that is NOT how to do it. Worse, the dog was being walked on a harness. NO control at ALL on a harness... and she is lucky he did not slip out of it with all that going on. By the time the girl punished the dog, it was TOO LATE. To get a dog to refocus you have to do it at the first LOOK at the other dog.. not after things have gone to crap. So the dog was inappropriately corrected and no one learned anything.. and all of that correcting was done out of anger so no learning happened.

What would I do if I had my dog with me? Keep walking. You cannot fix the rest of the world. You can only change your own part of the world. If I saw them and had no dog I would say something for sure.. not meanly but just suggest there is a better way. And offer to show them.

IF their dog had escaped its harness I would have said a LOT more if I had my dog with me. At my age my filter is pretty well broken and I don't much care what people think of me.
 

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If you were an adult worrying about this situation ... I would've said .... "You can't fix stupid!"

But you are not. You are instead a caring, sensitive, loving and responsible young person. I met one recently, your age, who spent TWO days posting Lost & Found notices in our neighborhood trying to reunite a loose dog with an owner. He did, eventually. And the S-A-hole owner never acknowledged their own mistake, or the young man's very hard work. I (instead) gave the young man a Thank You card and $25, letting him know, not to be discouraged. That good work DOES matter. And PAYS off.

To your question. Sometimes .... (not always) ..... trying to offer a solution in those situations can make a difference. But I realized that takes experience. The trick in offering that solution (and making this kind of comment) is that once an owner feels empowered (in the proper way) can lead to redeemable behavior.

Why some dogs go balistically reactive and others do not, actually has to do with their prey drive. You would be surprised that those personality type dogs do better unrestrained in a dog-social situation (as long as they're not squirrel-ly aggressive). So a reactive dog like that feels a certain desperation. Whatever his issue. Could be about protection, investigation, play drive, defensiveness, fear-anxiety. That's not for you to sort out. And the dog being on a leash is a restriction that's conflicting with the dog's natural behavior. (Unrestricted) dogs offer each other subtle body language to introduce themselves, decide rank structure, indicate they are non-aggressive) and lots more. But when they're inhibited by the owner (ESPECIALLY with that owner inflicting pain) just escalates the entire fiasco.

But distraction can help. This tip comes from an 80 year old (not me!!) trainer who has seen every type of dog under the sun. And he said make a noise-can. He starts with an empty coke can, and fills it with pennies. I've short-cut my solution with an empty small pineapple juice can, and filled it with (decorative) broken glass. Obviously the cans are sealed. And I will tell you, that shaking that can, immediately gets the dog's attention. Because they don't know what in blazes is going to happen to them next. Another tip is to throw that can down at their feet. (Don't hit them). But the combination of the noise and the action and the distraction, while "marking" that scenario with "Enough!" usually gives an owner a chance to further redirect.

So.... in terms of offering a solution,.... would be to suggest a remedy. And the above is an example. Further, I would recommend "Good Citzenship Training" for dog AND (especially) the young owner. Because BOTH will learn manners. Good Citzenship is only BASIC manners, that every dog can learn. Usually takes only 6 weeks. Key, are teaching the commands to DISTRACT the dog. "Marking" the behavior is the way to achieve it. So you pick ONE command at a time. Like "sit". Best if the dog offers the behavior. But you can demonstrate a couple of times.

The INSTANT that dog sits, you "mark" the behavior with a VERY high value treat. Chicken works extremely well! You wait until the dog is hungry. And go through that routine, 20 times in succession. And ONLY reward on a sit. But do not verbally "correct" on a fail. You never want that dog to hear "no" in "marker" training sessions. Soon the dog will figure it out. Both ... that's it enjoyable (yummy) and that they're gaining your POSITIVE attention! They love it!!

Obviously the purpose of teaching the behavior, is so an owner can focus the dog, outdoors. "Sit" or "Down" .... be sure to have a pocket full of treats. And once you see trouble any distance off (your dog can see, hear & smell) twice as far as you can .... put him into the mode of following your instruction.

I know what your original question is. And haven't forgotten. But wanted to provide the context around offering solutions.

As a direct answer, I don't think you could've talked to that family directly. The mom was annoyed. The young person was frustrated. The dog was in highest anxiety mode. And without a PRACTICED routine.... they had nothing to fall back on.

To summarize:

1) Keep a noise can or little spray bottle of water handy
2) Begin "marker" training to build a relationship with the dog
3) Look into "Good Citizenship" dog training classes, where a dog passing a test will earn a Certificate, that often qualifies him in places of business.

Thank you so much for caring. And I hope you have years and years of enjoyment with your companion! You did a great job by writing to this forum!!!
 

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I'm sorry if this is in the wrong place but I'm not sure where else it fits. I would like to begin this story by saying how proud I am of my dog who I'm currently training because he remained calm and listened to me even though I was stressed. Tonight as I was walking my small dog and doing basic training, there was a mom, dad, and 16 (ish) years old walking on the opposite side of the street towards us. The mom had a small terrier type dog on a retractable leash (ugh!). The little dog began barking and lunging at Harley (my dog). The 16 year old was walking a large black lab (looked pretty young) on an easy walked harness with a normal leash. As a habit from previously training a dog aggressive dog, the second I saw another dog coming I kept my eye on them without staring. When the dog was at least 50 yards away, I began noticing the behavior. The large dog was distracted and focused on my little dog even from that distance, the girl did nothing to regain his attention. As they got closer, the large dog began behaving worse. As they were about 15 feet away on the opposite side of the street, the dog began pulling and twisting in his harness in an attempt to get to my dog. Now both of those dogs were barking and struggling to get to me and Harley. The mom continued dragging the small dog as she walked then turned to tell her daughter in a harsh voice to get the dog under control. Watching the large dog's body language, he was not aggressive but excited to see another dog. The small dog was displaying aggressive body language. The girl pulled the leash very short then grabbed the dog's ear on the side closest to me. She was pushing the dog so far the other direction, physically twisting his head to the point where he fell over sideways if that makes sense. Still holding his head down by his ear, she began hitting him with her other hand and shouting, "No! Bad dog! Bad!" By the time she had stopped, my dog and I had walked at least 30 feet away. I considered saying something but decided not to for my safety and my dog's safety. I'm a teenager so I do have the issue of people not taking what I say seriously. The weird thing was, I didn't recognize these people. I live in a small neighborhood where everyone knows who I am, even neighbors who don't know my name refer to me as the dog whisperer or dog trainer girl. I wish I had said something and I'm regretting not speaking up more and more. If I see them again, what should I do? I can't ignore it if I see them again but I don't even know what I would say so hopefully someone here can give me advice. Thanks!
I am so sorry that you had to witness that. I also find it really upsetting to watch people inflict prolonged, unnecessary physical pain on their dogs in the name of "training", especially when it's easy to see how they are going to make the situation worse in the long run.

Everyone is only doing the best that they can with the knowledge, skills, and resources that they have available at the time. But those people are not ready to hear what you have to say about their training methods, and saying anything to them in that kind of situation is unlikely to actually change their behaviour (i.e., training methods). Unsolicited advice is almost never well received. Better to keep quiet and just keep moving on, especially since you had your own dog to worry about. Maybe, if it seemed safe and the situation was appropriate, I would let them see you training YOUR dog. Feed extra cookies. Tell your dog how good she is and how she's working so hard and you're so proud. I know it sounds stupid to say stuff like that out loud, but it covertly indicates to onlookers that your dog wasn't born perfect and that their good behaviour is the result of your training.

If you really wanted to give them a tip, I would ask first. Something like..... "Beautiful dog, she looks really excited to make friends! My dog used to feel that way too, would you mind if I shared what worked for us?" do your best to keep any judgement out of it, and be prepared to walk away politely if they say no. ("Okay! Have a nice day!")
 

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You did the right thing , I agree with others, this wasn't the right time to address this, esp when they had two possibly aggressive dogs. As the owner of two smallish dogs myself, I would have also kept walking, no need to compound the situation by sticking around and starting an argument.

If I saw them without my dogs (or without theirs) I might give them the info of several good trainers and facilities.
 
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