Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pooches: The Curse of Being Well-Liked

 Maybe it was her, maybe it was me, or maybe it was the neighborhood perception of pitbulls. But when I first adopted Miss M she was never well-liked. People used to grab their dogs and scurry across the street whenever they saw us coming.
On a positive note, I was able to use this to my advantage treating every walk like a training walk. Since we weren't meeting other dogs or people, Miss M wasn't distracted and we were able to focus on training. And she became really good.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and it seems like the perceptions of pitbull breeds is changing. Instead of scurrying away with their dogs, people are now dragging their dogs over to meet our dogs head-on. Small dogs are pulling on their retractable leashes to bark and challenge the pooches. Despite my warnings, people are still wanting to bring their barking,lunging dogs up to a small girl walking two big pitbulls:
Our pooches are well-trained because we taught them walks are for walking and they are not a time to play. We don't introduce them to other dogs on leash, because so many things could happen with nervous dogs, leash-reactive dogs, and just dogs that get excited and tangled up in the leashes. I walk both the dogs together, but I get frustrated when other people (especially men with small dogs) let their dogs drag them over despite me asking them to step back. This causes our pooches to get overexcited, stand up like bears to play with each other, and get tangled in their leashes. Which just makes things more difficult for me.

But even though this is difficult, should I just be happy the perceptions are changing and people aren't afraid of our dogs anymore?

32 comments:

jet said...

I like that people are scared of my dogs when I am walking them on leash at night, but don't seem to be scared of them when we are at the dog park and they are off leash!

Shawnee the Shepherd said...

Oh, that is one of mom's pet peeves! Likewise, us dogs are trained that walks are for walking and not play. I am only allowed to greet another dog after my mom and the other dog's humans have discussed it and decided it is OK and I get the "say hello" command. My sister, Sydney, is terrified of dogs she does not know and will put the bitey on them so mom is always yelling at people to keep their dogs away but they do not listen. Sydney ignores other dogs if they don't come over to her but if they come rushing up into her face she gives them the snarly face and then their humans give mom dirty looks even when mom sometimes has to throw herself between Sydney and the other dog. Sigh.

loveandaleash said...

this is one of our pet peeves too. and because we live in an old neighborhood with lots of single-family houses and trees and green and not much fast-moving traffic, we occasionally encounter an off-leash walker with a dog that is not in voice control.
our chick does NOT find this pleasing. he can be very friendly with dogs, but when rushed by an off-leash dog or even an on-leash dog, he can become reactive.
and when you are on leash but the other dog isn't, there is so little you can do. we hate that helpless feeling.

Olivia said...

I've had Petey for 6 years and when I first got him (I live on NYC's Upper East Side) people would grab their children and flee across the street. There were then and are now a lot more adopted pit bulls in my neighborhood. Since Petey is so friendly and has made friends with SO MANY people and dogs; he is now recognized all over. There is still a lot of fear out there but good breed ambassadors (and their people) are slowly chipping away at that.

Kate@TwentySixToLife said...

I'll let any person who wants to pet our dogs come up to us, but if they have a dog it's a whole different story. Our dogs get way too excited and potentially reactive when they see dogs during walks. If we don't think the other owner has their dog under control we'll just turn around. It's annoying, but it's the easiest way for us to avoid any problems.

In Black and White said...

Hm, I know the feeling! When I'm walking 72lbs of Billy and 60lbs of Buster and someone squeals at the dogs or lets their dogs lunge and bark. Billy is still very much a work in progress and now that Buster's perennially-dodgy leg is finally on the mend he's starting to discover all kinds of new behaviors. It's definitely not fun.
On the plus side, I have arms of steel now...

HoundDogMom said...

Walking 3 bassets at a time that out weigh me by 50 pounds is trying sometimes. The people we meet always ask, which is fine once I have reeled them in so I don't get tangled. Other dogs approaching we would rather not have that. Ours are friendly but just get way to excited when they see other fur-kids. And 3 on retractable leashes is not good. We are glad we don't encounter many things where we live on our daily walk. Just last week though we encountered 3 off leash dogs just running free (friendly). But this was a challenge for me and I am pretty lucky my arms are still attached just another 10 inches longer. BOL Sniffs, The HoundDogs

Trissi_V said...

I think walking 100+ lbs of any dog(s)(Laci is 50lbs and Apollo is 60lbs) is a lot to handle if there are rude dog walkers out and about.

Whenever I see someone who looks like they don't have control of their animal (retractable lead where the person is being walked or a lunging animal), I cross the street. I can control my 2 dogs, but I don't want to throw theirs in the mix and potential get one of my fur babies injured and me included.

Kari in WeHo said...

me neighborhood is full of reactive dogs on retractable leashes. I hate it. I also have to admit that my two are much worse meeting dogs when on leash than they are off

Kari
http://dogisgodinreverse.com

Two Pitbulls said...

Oh man, that comment about men with small dogs. SO TRUE.

The Heartbeats said...

We don't typically stop while on leash. McIver will have NONE of that and the other 3 together are just too much. People can be really dumb though. I don't hesitate for a minute to be brash. If someone comes up to McIver and he bites them, he becomes at risk for euthanasia due to aggression. Guess what? That will NEVER happen on my watch. If people think I am crabby- I don't really care!

Mamma Heartbeat

Fiona, as typed by Dr. Liz said...

If the owners look clueless or aren't paying attention, we make sure the girls are paying attention only to us when we pass other dogs, because Fi tends to get a bit spastic around other dogs while Abby will roll onto her back at the first opportunity. If the owners ask us if their dog(s) can say 'hi' we'll do a controlled 'sniff' session and move on. The only time we let the girls actually play with other dogs is once we get to the park and they are off leash. When the husband is sick/injured (sadly a not-uncommon occurrence) and I'm walking the girls by myself, I need them to just pay attention to me, and they are pretty good with it (I don't let them stop and say 'hi' when I am walking them alone). I've actually told a couple of people in a loud voice 'stay away from me' - I probably come across as a bitch, but I'd rather not have 150lbs of dog get excited and want to go in multiple directions. I'd rather come across as anti-social than get irritated and frustrated (and potentially have somedog - or me - get hurt). Just saying...

-Dr. Liz (the girls, on the other hand, are giving me the stink-eye to stop typing and go play in the snow....)

Asta said...

Some hoomans awe weally stoopid
I'm glad pawceptions about Cute pitties awe changing. I live in NewYawk City and meet all sowts of doggies on my walk. Mommi hates those wetwactabull leashes. I always walk close to Mommi and we always ask befowe saying hello to anothew doggie. I have sevewal Pittie fwiends and they always smile and awe soopew nice
smoochie kisses
ASTA

brooke said...

Darwin is definitely more reactive to yappy dogs when she's on leash. She doesn't like barking dogs at her in general but goes crazier when she's on leash.

Maggie said...

It's wonderful that perceptions are changing. Huge! I love when people come say hi to Emmett and Cooper - if they ask first! As the person of a leash-reactive dog, though, I HATE when people let their dogs rush up to me when I'm out with Lucas. They're always far away at the end of a retractable yelling, "Don't worry! She's friendly!" Well... mine is, too. Just not when he's on leash. I can manage his behavior and even work on training calm reactions when dogs don't rush up to us. When they do, it derails the entire walk.

HP said...

We don't let our dogs meet other dogs on leash. That being said, other people don't feel the same way - what is up with men and small dogs wanting to meet pit bulls? Luckily, Ben is great with small dogs - but I still warn people to stay away from us! Plus, Jazz just doesn't really like any dogs except for Ben.

We have a problem in our neighborhood with off lead dogs - Ben is not too keen on animals racing up to him - he stands very alert and even though his tail wags, I'm not trusting anything. I have to reel in my dogs, hold them behind me with one hand, and stick my foot out at the approaching dog while yelling "No!" and putting myself between the new dog and my own (I'd rather the dog bite my foot instead of my hand). I must look ridiculous, but usually the owner doesn't come out of their house right away, so I don't know what else to do...

mayziegal said...

Mom says that used to happen all the time when they just had Brudder Ranger (and my mom didn't like it then). It doesn't happen as much now that they have me. But sometimes dogs that aren't on a leash will try to run up to me and that kinda skeers me. So I make myself look real big and try to tell them to not come on so strong. And all the while, their owners are saying, "Don't Worry! They're furendly!" But I can't help but worry. I mean, I don't know those dogs from a hole in the ground. How am I supposed to be SURE they're furendly? It's kinda stressful.

Wiggles & Wags,
Mayzie

Shauna (Fido and Wino) said...

That absolutely drives me nuts. There was a woman with a very angry chihuahua in her arms barking his head off and snarling, "can my dog meet your dogs?" I told her no, "Uh, I don't think that is a good idea." Why oh why do people let dogs of any size charge into other dogs? I don't get it.

But it is really great perceptions are changing!

houndstooth said...

It's one of my peeves, too. I expect my dogs to be well-behaved in public, and then other people are out there with wild dingos on strings. And I shall resist my rant about Flexi-leads.

I know what you mean, though. I try to use it as a positive thing. Often people have questions and I answer those whenever I can. Plus, I remind myself that the dogs are making an impression on people (as are the ill-behaved ones) and it might plant the seed for somebody to one day get a Greyhound or Shepherd of their own.

I'll be really honest, though, I don't suffer fools well!

Darwin said...

In our neighborhood most dogs are leashed. Even with a small pug like Darwin other dog owners stay at a distance to avoid excitement. There are a lot of pitt bulls in our neighborhood and they are quite gentle. Miss M looks like a sweet one.

Antoinette Errante said...

Poor Miss M. What a cross to bear all that charisma. Columbus does not have leash laws but it does have a lot of idiot dog owners who have no control of their dogs. Parks become a very dicey proposition because not all dogs allow off leash are the angels owners think they are. Very frustrating.

Marlyn said...

It's definitely a wonderful thing that people's perceptions are changing. Your post actually reminded me of this article that was given to us (and the whole class) when we started agility
training with Jasmine:

http://www.nesr.info/images-english-shepherd/He-just-wants-to-say-hi.pdf

It is definitely one of my favorites! You just never know how someone else's dog will react, especially on leash and it just isn't worth the risk.

Mr. Pip said...

I sometimes get annoyed with people who just assume they can let their dogs or kids run right up to Pip. He is amazing with kids, but he does get nervous around new dogs.

Roo said...

Great that people are behaving more positively to the pooches :D Never a great thing when people behave stupidly :( Yin and yang ;)

Roo

rescuedinsanity.com said...

It is something to celebrate for sure, that people no longer want to run away screaming from your pit bulls. However, it can also be problematic.

I dislike it when people purposely walk their dog up to mine with the intent of forcing them to meet. Shiva can handle it now, but I am working on getting to to stay with me instead of greeting other dogs. When people force our dogs together, they are eroding all my attempts at training. It's aggravating.

Furthermore, these people that make their dogs meet strange dogs can wind up putting their dog in a very dangerous situation. Obviously, Miss M and Mr. B are okay, but there are a lot of dogs who have not been so well trained or socialized. I worry that if a pit bull does happen to bark or growl, that will be the end of it and all this person's good will will vanish. Perhaps I just need more faith in humanity?

Good question!

EmilyS said...

It's very well known among trainers that dogs are more reactive ONleash than off (probably because the dog feels it can't escape and feels more threatened). Many dogs are on-leash reactive (it's not really aggression in most cases) while being able to meet dogs perfectly well when off leash.

So, yeah, it really is best NOT to allow other onleash dogs to greet your onleash dogs. It's not at all a natural or controllable situation.

And you know who gets the blame if a snarkfest ensues...

Mary said...

No, there is always something to complain about when it comes to dealing with other dog owners! I can especially relate now that I walk two big ones myself and mine aren't nearly as well-trained as Mr. B and Ms. M. Even though I sometimes just want to walk around the neighborhood, I always take the boys to the park because I want to avoid dealing with passing by other dogs on the sidewalk. At least in the park, we can walk in the fields, where Neptune is forever tormented by sadistic squirrels.

And are you sure attitudes are improving, or is it that Mr. B and Ms. M have become internet sensations? Maybe their stellar reputation precedes them?

T2 - My life with pit bulls said...

It's always going to be a good thing that perceptions are changing for the better. What we need to do now is find a way to make the clueless idiots out there be more aware and responsible. That would be real progress!

Olivia said...

Hmmm. I mean, of course it is a great thing that minds are changing because it wasn't too long ago that pits weren't even allowed in certain parks or apartments and shelters would immediately put them to sleep if they came upon them out of some irrational fear. But it is frustrating to have other dogs bugging yours.

I (125 lbs) walk a 75 lb bloodhound and it's not so much that people walk up to me with their dogs, it's more that a dog is off leash or at a fence challenging mine. It makes walks more work than fun for us. I had to tell a woman once if she didn't come grab her schnauzer who was barking and trying to bite at my dog's heels that I would call animal control. I love all dogs, but not at the expense of my own.

gamebred said...

you know olivia it is still that way having a pit and trying to find housing. at least here in seattle it is. its sad because my pits are crated when we leave, licensed, socialized and trained (one is even a certified therapy dog!). given the choice between a lab and a pit to a landlord, most would go with the lab.

sometimes i feel like im starting to see a change in public perception and awareness to treat dogs as individuals and then sometimes i dont. there are days i want to borrow a non pit bull type dog just to see how differently im treated, cause i dont know what thats like since ive only ever owned pit bulls.

it seems as though people who train and socialize their dogs have the same problems and that is comforting.

ForPetsSake said...

I agree with The Hearbeats and T2 - there are just too many morons being led around by their dogs, or the even worse idiots that allow their obnoxious dogs off leash.

Countless times dogs have run up on Nyxie when we have to drag away a 75 lb growling, barking GSD who's reacting to a threat like she would a strange human running up to me. The most irritating part, I think, is that these people take no responsibility for their dogs poor behavior. I'm left fighting my own dog, worried some jerk will complain that she's aggressive and try to do us harm. It's awful. With Arwen, it's a bit different - she reacts like yours - on hind legs, pulling at the leash. Once the other dog comes over, though - it's hit or miss. She might like them. Being the Queen B, though - she usually will snap at them if they don't grovel in her presence. **eye roll**
Personally we stay clear of all dogs at a respectful distance.

I LOVE that opinions of Pitties are changing, though. That's a good sign for everyone!

road-dog-tales said...

We think it's great that pitties are finally getting a GOOD rap! BUT, we agree that it should be mutually acceptable to all parties whether they get to meet & greet. This goes for people, too :)

The Road Dogs

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