That made my morning.
I’m more worried about (1) what to do when a dog’s coming at me and (2) why dogs so often bark and lunge at me, when I’m keeping my distance, when they don’t bark and lunge at and maul the people with the leashes and (3) why the people with the leashes don’t respect that the rest of us have the right to use public space and the need to keep our distance. Just yesterday, one just keep walking towards me, and I just kept backing away, but there was a highway with heavy traffic, so I couldn’t keep backing away indefinitely.
[P.S. I should probably mention that I have a severe allergy to dog dander, so whether the dog wants to maul me or rub against me, either one is going to hurt me. Although the way many dogs bark and lunge at me on sight, I tend to assume the former.]
Probably because you’re made of meat.
AWWWWW LOOK AT HIS WIDDLE EARS FLAPPING
haha every lab ever.
Unfortunately one of the reasons they probably come at you in particular is that it seems like you are frightened. And unfortunately appearing scared can (but doesn’t inevitably) signal to the dog that something is wrong – so they can get aggressive.
We had some issues with our dog getting barky at other dogs on leash, and one of the keys in correcting the behaviour was for us to signal as clearly as possible to her that there was nothing wrong and that everything was under control. Ironically the problem was really only when she was on leash, and that’s pretty common.
If you’re made nervous by dogs you might try telling the owner, so s/he can take pro-active measures to calm the dog. Some owners are jerks/idiots, but many aren’t and it could mitigate the problem.
I agree with Kludge girl
I have a similar problem, and I have been able to (partially) address my problem by changing how I act.
The dog is probably reacting to subconscious cues on your part.
The best thing to do is to stand still. Very, very few dogs will actually attack you. Even the ones that lunge and bark don’t bite. They are typically afraid of you, or perceive you — wildly incorrectly – as a threat their owner. I have a lot of experience here, sadly. If a dog wants to bite you, they are so fast they will get you before you realized you are under attack. If they bark and lunge, it’s really, really scary, and but they don’t want to attack you. They are afraid of something. Acting non-threatening and in control is often the fastest way to calm the dog. I have found standing very still with my arms at my side is my best bet.
Politely explaining to the dog owner “I have fear of dogs” or “you’re dog is making me nervous” also helps. Yes, there a few jerks, but most owners will make of point of pulling in their dogs when asked
Lastly, try to pick up context cues. I am a tall guy who likes to wear hats. This infuriates certain small dogs. I have learned that removing my hat helps. Also, kneeling down to get on eye level often does wonders.
Just some ideas so you can feel more in control of what is clearly a difficult situation.
Hope that helps!
If the hats are trilbies, that reaction is not limited to certain small dogs.
Interestingly, the dogs do seem to have more issues with my trilby than my wool pork pie or my Blancq-Olibet berets. And everyone loves my best fedora.
What do people have against Trilbies? It’s a damn functional hat!
I keep seeing this “if you show fear, they’ll go for you” story. I have two solicitations.
(1) Can you cite scientific literature proving this assertion, so I can understand how ‘showing fear to a dog’ is determined or measured and how consistent this ‘go for you’ behaviour is (over doggy varieties, the more the better). Similar interactions between dogs and non-humans would also be of interest (sheep and chickens come to mind).
(2) If this indeed does prove to be true, then arguments as to why it is not consequently incumbent upon their human owners to train out this ‘go for you’ behaviour will be entertained.
These are genuine questions. So please try not to interpret them - as so many dog-folk do - as passive-aggressive anti-dog rhetorical ones. I’d really like to know where this sort of (indistinguishable from) folklore comes from as it isn’t at all obvious to me how (a) dogs judge human fearfulness and (b) even if they can, why would this mean they’d act like bullies.
I thought a happy ending was . . . . never mind.
I keep seeing this “if you show fear, they’ll go for you” story. I have two solicitations.
(1) Can you cite scientific literature proving this assertion […]
(2) If this indeed does prove to be true, then arguments as to why it
is not consequently incumbent upon their human owners to train out this
‘go for you’ behaviour…
Well LemoUtan, despite your asseriton to the contrary, you have kinda phrased these as “passive-aggressive anti-dog” questions, but I will try to address your points.
There are many many books out there dealing with dog behaviour, and sadly most seem to be based on anecdotal evidence rather than science. For one that is grounded in animal behavioural studies see: Bradshaw, Dog Sense The issue is not that dogs attack fearful people, but that fear on the part of a person can signal to the dog that things are not right, which in turn makes the dog anxious and more likely to act up.
Obviously dog-owners should train their dogs so that they do not display aggression to people. Duh. Is anyone suggesting otherwise? But I know someone who is so fearful of dogs that she will not go in a store with one tied up outside, even if that dog is just sitting there ignoring her. For people with such fears it is more constructive to consider how they can negotiate a better relationship with canines, since there are many dogs out there and their very fear may be exacerbating their problem.
What Kludge and bizmail said.
A couple other suggestions:
- If an unwelcome dog is running towards you, turn around so your back’s facing the dog, stand still and look down at the ground.
- A lot of fearful dogs will lash out if you stare them in the eye or get too close. If you ignore the dog as you walk by (look at your phone or at something in another direction to keep your focus), they will generally ignore you. Caveat already being said that some dogs and of course their owners are jerks. And lots of little dogs bark at everything. (Also, dogs don’t usually “bark and lunge” at their owners holding the leash, but it happens).
- If you’ve clearly signaled to the owner holding the leash (not to the dog!) that you’re not comfortable near dogs, the owner should be pulling the leash back. If they’re a jerk or just oblivious and don’t notice, I usually just detour or stand to the side with enough room to let them pass.
Unfortunately — and I say this as a former teenage rudeboy — trilbies have in general become signifiers of a certain type of idiot. A few men can still manage to wear them with steez, but most… don’t.
Protip: Never wear a hat with a t-shirt, especially not a t-shirt you bought at Comicon.
Doggie varieties as you specify, don’t quite exist on the spectrum you seem to want them to. Dogs are individuals. Owners are individuals. Scientific data on dog behavior though, that is available, but you can’t learn dogs from books.
Why would it be incumbent on the owner to ‘train out’ legal behavior that you find objectionable? No. Train Out is another term that maybe indicates some differing conceptions between us about dogs, ownership, and the sort of relationship you can have with another sentient being. They’re not lawnmowers run amok, and they’re not livestock either.
I find them to be enormously rewarding creatures, and as with all good things, they require some tolerance, YMMV.
- keep walking
- They know the people with the leashes. And the dogs are not actually mauling you, they’re saying hello in dog. If they are mauling you I hope you contact the authorities and head to a trauma center, immediately.
- they probably do respect that you have the right to use public space, but no, you don’t have the right to do so utterly unperturbed. That’s what -private- property is for. I think expecting to be solely able to set the appropriate distance for other people/creatures to stay from you is not a reasonable expectation in public, and will lead to much discomfort on your part. Your arms reach is a reasonable personal boundary in public.
Expecting not to be jumped on and slobbered all over is reasonable. Is describing that invasion of personal space as a ‘mauling’ as reasonable?
From the owners perspective you were leading the dog towards traffic. Everyone has their own POV. Dogs are cool, YMMV
I have been gassed and beaten by the police, while peacefully protesting against the wars. I could not hear anything. I could not see or feel anything but the pain of the gassing. I thought I was going to die. I know from photos that one medic who came to my aid was also gassed and beaten by the police. Saying that I should go to the “authorities” is massively fucking triggering.
And being afraid of and staying away from creatures that (a) instinctively lunge and bark at me even from far away and (b) are said to instinctively attack anyone who stays away from or is afraid of them [sounds like something from a horror movie] is, well, inevitable.
And from the dog owner’s perspective, it’s MY fault if THEY and THEIR DOG force me up against a highway full of traffic?
Thing is, it’s really not my problem to try to understand the behavior of someone else’s dog, especially since most dog owners don’t understand their dogs’ behavior either. Any animal that acts aggressive towards a scared human has no business being taken out in public at all, let alone off leash.
I am not scared of dogs, and I don’t act scared around them. I’ve still been bitten twice in the last two years by dogs, both ties hard enough to draw blood. Both times the owner said “oh my god, he never does that! what did you do!” Yeah, blamed me.
Funny how they changed their tune when I suggested that apologizing would go a long way towards me NOT calling the cops.
Thing is, it’s really not my problem to try to understand the behavior
of someone else’s dog, especially since most dog owners don’t understand
their dogs’ behavior either.
Obviously it is much more in the interest of the dog owner to understand his/her animal’s behaviour, but if encountering dogs is a problem for you then it would seem very much that it is “your problem” to better understand what is going on. I was responding to MarjaE who was scared, and suggesting what might mitigate things.
Any animal that acts aggressive towards a scared human has no business being taken out in public at all, let alone off leash.
Who’s arguing that aggressive dogs should be allowed off leash? I won’t pretend that there aren’t irresponsible dog owners – I have been to many an off-leash park where there were dogs that should not have been off leash – for sure there are dogs that should not be allowed out on leash either! But there are also a lot of dogs that aren’t aggressive but may still seem frightening to people who are scared of dogs.
Given that we live in a society where dogs are allowed to go about on leash, and that anyone who is frightened of dogs is extremely likely to have to deal with dogs, it is more productive to discuss how to minimize their fear and also minimize the chances of a frightening interaction. I’m sorry that you were bitten by two dogs. That sucks. But it doesn’t mean that all dogs are likely to bite you any more than being mugged means that all people are likely to rob you.