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Would You Let Your Dog Meet/socialize With An Aggressive/fearful One?


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This morning while bringing my dog out for his potty break I spotted a lady with a shihtzu coming towards our direction. I have seen them before and the last time the dog kept barking at mine and lunging at it so I wasn't comfortable doing a meet and greet PLUS the dog started barking at us once he spotted us this time round. was right outside my apartment so I headed back in and waited for them to pass. The lady lingered outside my apartment and finally came up to me to ask if I wouldn't mind if they said hi each other. I probably could have been more polite but essentially I said I did mind and rejected her.

She explained that her dog was adopted and friendly (also he was toothless so couldn't do much physical harm) so my question is, do you let your dogs do a meet and greet or socialize with fearful/aggressive dogs? Any exceptions made for an adopted dog? I can emphasize with her that she wants to help her dog but at the same time I wasnt comfortable with the situation. She was also doing the Caesar Milan "grab the dog by the neck" every time it barked at mine.

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No. It takes a very, very special dog with nerves of steel to be able to work with aggressive/fearful dogs and even then it should only be done under professional supervision in a controlled environment.

I am the guardian of my dogs and it is my responsibility to look after their welfare, even if that means I hurt people's feelings. You can land up with a DA dog yourself if you expose your dog to aggressive dogs and damage your relationship with them in the process.

The best thing she could do for her dog is get good professional help. In the meantime she needs to work on focus and control with her dog - and that doesn't come with saying hello to lots of dogs. If her dog is fearful punishing him for being scared is also a bad idea. Sigh.

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So many "depends on" in these sorts of cases, the main one, in my opinion, being: how would it affect your dog? What breed is your dog? What is his/her nature? Can he/she be trusted not to retaliate when the other dog gets in his/her face? Etc etc.

Some rescue people have what they call "bomb proof" dogs and will use them to help other dogs, but you really have to know your dog and be confident in your own ability to control the situation.

If the lady is using that method on an already stressed and agitated dog, she is doing more harm than good. I do feel sorry for her and her dog, but she needs professional help to help the little dog. In my experience, Shih Tzus are generally pretty easy going dogs, but they can be the exact opposite of course.

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No. It takes a very, very special dog with nerves of steel to be able to work with aggressive/fearful dogs and even then it should only be done under professional supervision in a controlled environment.

I am the guardian of my dogs and it is my responsibility to look after their welfare, even if that means I hurt people's feelings. You can land up with a DA dog yourself if you expose your dog to aggressive dogs and damage your relationship with them in the process.

The best thing she could do for her dog is get good professional help. In the meantime she needs to work on focus and control with her dog - and that doesn't come with saying hello to lots of dogs. If her dog is fearful punishing him for being scared is also a bad idea. Sigh.

You expressed exactly what I was feeling. I wish I could have someone to recommend here but I don't know of any good behaviourists here in Singapore. :(

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I had a similar situation once when I went out to lunch and had Kenz with me. I didn't realise there were other dogs at the cafe (they were little so I couldn't see them when we approached), but once I noticed them I chose the table furtherest from them. Kenzie has a reputation for sometimes being reactive around other dogs. Anyway as we walked to the table the two little dog went beserk at her and it was one of my proud moments where she just ignored them and stuck close to me and didn't even look their direction!! Anyway the owner of said small dogs brought one of them up to asking if it could say hi to Kenz so that it "could see that other dogs are nice", to which I immediately just said outright no as she wouldn't like their dog and if it did come too close she may snap at it (which I don't want her doing because she is forced in to a situation). I guess I was lucky as the lady just took the dog away and for my whole lunch Kenz ignored them while they still just yapped and yapped at her!!!

There is no way I'd let either of my dogs meet a dog like that without me knowing an awful lot about the dog first. eve with Hamish who is bomb-proof and loves everyone, I want him staying that way - I don't want him ruined by meeting an unknown dog that behaves that way.

You are definitely well within your rights and I also think your responsibilities to do what you did.

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So many "depends on" in these sorts of cases, the main one, in my opinion, being: how would it affect your dog? What breed is your dog? What is his/her nature? Can he/she be trusted not to retaliate when the other dog gets in his/her face? Etc etc.

Some rescue people have what they call "bomb proof" dogs and will use them to help other dogs, but you really have to know your dog and be confident in your own ability to control the situation.

If the lady is using that method on an already stressed and agitated dog, she is doing more harm than good. I do feel sorry for her and her dog, but she needs professional help to help the little dog. In my experience, Shih Tzus are generally pretty easy going dogs, but they can be the exact opposite of course.

He is an 11 month old crossbreed. He's very friendly and submissive to other dogs. I've taken great pains to try and make sure he hasn't had any bad encounters with other dogs. So while I doubt he would retaliate I think if it got nasty it definitely would have affected him.

The dog also barked at me when I looked at it and that made me more apprehensive. I just felt like abit of a jerk for rejecting I suppose.

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Generally my answer would be a clear no, but it is a bit situation specifc.

I have in the past had a couple of very calm and self-confident dogs with really good social skills who were very good with fearful dogs.

If they seemed comfortable with doing it I would consider letting them meet a fearful dog under controlled conditons if asked, but probably not for a complete stranger. And not with my current lot, their social skills are OK but they get too excited.

Whether the other dog is adopted or not is completely irrelevant, that wouldn't make any difference. I would have to believe it to be safe, useful and that my dog was feeling secure.

I would question the wisdom of the other owner even asking you, she doesn't know your dog well enough or sound like she has much idea of how to help her own dog - she needs some good help.

Edited by Diva
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What sort of pleasure does the owner of a fearful or aggressive dog think the animal gets from "socialising" :confused:

She is probably thinking she is doing the right thing by her dog. The fact that she eventually approached Ann21 shows that.

If you get the chance, Ann21, can you suggest that she doesn't scruff her dog. The dog is already fearful and doesn't need rough correction.

There are lots of good books, but nothing beats hands on from and experienced and caring professional who looks at the dog to see what the dog needs and doesn't follow a one-size-fits-all approach.

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If every behaviour the dog is demonstrating indicates that it isn't comfortable around other dogs, then the solution is simple from where I sit. Don't ask it to be.

It's the owner who has to keep the dog safe. Seems to me that she's expecting behaviour from the dog that it simply can't give.

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What sort of pleasure does the owner of a fearful or aggressive dog think the animal gets from "socialising" :confused:

She is probably thinking she is doing the right thing by her dog. The fact that she eventually approached Ann21 shows that.

If you get the chance, Ann21, can you suggest that she doesn't scruff her dog. The dog is already fearful and doesn't need rough correction.

There are lots of good books, but nothing beats hands on from and experienced and caring professional who looks at the dog to see what the dog needs and doesn't follow a one-size-fits-all approach.

If I see her again I'll try. I will also check out the people a previous poster recommended to see if there are any behaviourists here. It's difficult here because CM is very popular and I am in no way experienced enough to recommend an alternative for their dog.

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I have done it, but only if the owner will let me talk her through exactly how I want the meet and greet to go. Ie her dog must be able to approach on a loose lead, and every time it starts pulling and barking and lunging - she would need to turn away untl her dog was calm again, and I would say - we might not get as far as a greeting today...

My dog is extremely good at being non-threatening and friendly. She will lie down and put her head down on the ground and roll over for the other dog to have a completely safe sniff. Which calms a lot of fear aggressive dogs down, but if they're still lunging and barking at the end of their lead - I'm not willing to let them greet and will block the approach or stop the owner.

A lot of fear aggressive dogs are pretty easy to get a greet happening - they usually stay behind their owner and show no interest in approaching until my dog rolls over for them first, and then I talk the owner through keeping the lead loose. Ie as soon as the lead goes tight or the owner panics - so does the dog and it all goes to hell. Fortunately for me, my dog's response is usually to clear off away.

If the owner is not willing to listen to me - we keep away. I admit if the owner is letting their dog pull and lunge at the end of the lead for the whole walk and approach - I tend to avoid them because they've got no idea and my dog does not like being jumped on by rude dogs.

I am disappointed when we can't say hello to another dog who looks like a good candidate - but I respect what the other owner wants.

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That would be a nice thing to do ann21. :) Especially if she might be feeling embarrassed for having asked in the first place, if she is anything like me, it would take a bit of working up to do! :)

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I've had both a DA dog & now a bomb proof dog, & no, I don't think it's a good idea.

With my DA dog, I did try the meet & greet in an effort to teach her good associations. I had a lovely Doler offer to help me (hi Ruthless if you are reading!!) & the first time we met, my dog lunged and bit her dog (no damage) without warning. I was mortified & from then on was terrified of it happening again (& risking her hurting another dog). The risk is too high, it's not worth it.

I have, however, allowed my bombproof dog near a couple of onlead DA dogs. Because I empathise with the problem, I have been happy to have my dog in a sit onlead, near but out of range. She has never been phased by the other dog's behaviour. But I would never risk her being bitten by a within range greet. Just as I wouldnt risk my DA dog doing the biting!

Edited by dee lee
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I've had both a DA dog & now a bomb proof dog, & no, I don't think it's a good idea.

With my DA dog, I did try the meet & greet in an effort to teach her good associations. I had a lovely Doler offer to help me (hi Ruthless if you are reading!!) & the first time we met, my dog lunged and bit her dog (no damage) without warning. I was mortified & from then on was terrified of it happening again (& risking her hurting another dog). The risk is too high, it's not worth it.

I have, however, allowed my bombproof dog near a couple of onlead DA dogs. Because I empathise with the problem, I have been happy to have my dog in a sit onlead, near but out of range. She has never been phased by the other dog's behaviour. But I would never risk her being bitten by a within range greet. Just as I wouldnt risk my DA dog doing the biting!

Great to hear from both perspectives. Thanks dee led and everyone who posted! :)

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One other thing to bear in mind is that using a dog to assist a dog with behavioural issues under the guidance of an experienced professional is one thing.

Putting your dog's safety on the line to assist an owner who may not have much idea about dog behaviour is another thing entirely. I'd certainly not allow dogs to greet unless there were clear ideas about how and what was going to happen and what would happen in the event of aggression. And perhaps not even then.

The only thing I will offer is that a "friendly" dog is often the last dog an uncertain dog needs to meet. When a dog is wary of other dogs, a non-reactive or disinterested dog is often a much safer bet.

Edited by Haredown Whippets
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