Some People Are Stupid

May 29, 2009 at 11:08 pm Leave a comment


DISCLAIMER: This blog post was written in 2009. We no longer do Obedience Training using “dominance”-based methods. We no longer use collar corrections. These methods made Boogie MORE TENSE, MORE TRIGGERED and more prone to aggressive behaviors. We switched over to reward-based methods in February 2010 and saw improvements. 


I was walking Boogie this morning when I noticed a man and his OFF-LEASH dog wandering about ahead of me. The dog seemed like a docile senior; he/she was moving slowly and more  interested in the bushes than in Boogie and me. Of course, I wasn’t going to take any chances so I asked Boogie to sit, and I called out to the guy – “My dog isn’t always friendly. You may want to leash your dog”. The guy looked at me as if to say “Who are you and why do I care”, then continued walking ahead with his off-leash dog. WTF.  I stood there for ages (Boogie still sitting) waiting for the guy to do something. He didn’t. Boogie and I then overtook them both and thank goodness, nothing bad happened.

On another occasion, Wes was walking Boogie and some guy approached Boogie ON HIS HANDS AND KNEES – “Your dog is SO cute!” Wes pulled Boogie back and told the guy “Please don’t come close; he bites”. The guy was like “Oh it’s ok, I am not scared of dogs”. And Wes had to keep pulling Boogie further back because this stupid person would not move away. He was lucky Boogie didn’t bite him.

Going further back in time, on three occasions that I can recall, Boogie lunged and nipped at someone. In all three scenarios, the person (whom I might add, was a stranger to Boogie… someone he didn’t know well)  stuck their face up close in Boogie’s face to give him affection because they thought he was so cute. These were horrible and devastating moments for me. I felt so embarrassed about Boogie’s behavior… and thankfully the people who got nipped were understanding and said that they made a mistake by getting too close for comfort.

Jill our trainer reminds us that PERSONAL SPACE is super important to dogs. I read a Cesar Millan tweet last week: “The best way to approach a dog is to let the dog approach you”.

I’m not saying that people who move towards Boogie deserve to be bitten… not at all… in fact one reason we are going through Obedience Training is to prevent any more “aggressive” episodes from occuring. Boogie is now more obedient and responsive than he ever has been. However… what do we do about OTHER PEOPLE and OTHER DOGS who don’t respect his space? (As you may recall, twice already Boogie was attacked by another dog. First the german shepherd, then the pitbull… not naming any names.)

I’ll be honest, I get scared of other dogs sometimes. Every morning Boogie and I go on our 30-40 minute walk and I kid you not… 90% of the time the other dog starts the drama. It’s usually the other dog that starts barking first, then Boogie reacts by pulling on the leash and snarling.

Via the WOOF forum, I recently read a very awesome and interesting article by Suzanne Clothier of Flying Dog Press. The article is called “He Just Wants To Say Hi” (you have to register on the site for free, in order to read this) and the author differentiates between real aggression and common-sense canine responses to rude behavior. I highly recommend this article!!!

Here’s something from another Flying Dog Press article:


“Learn the difference between aggression and an appropriate response to rudeness. Far too many dogs are labeled aggressive when in fact they are responding in a perfectly appropriate canine fashion to rudeness. This usually occurs with others dogs whose owners allow them to be very rude because they believe that their dog is simply saying “hello” to your dog. What is really happening is a canine version of a complete stranger rushing up to you and hugging & kissing you! If you verbally snapped at such a person and pushed him away, you would be well within your rights, and not considered aggressive.” – Suzanne Clothier

After reading these articles, it was like a lightbulb lit up in my head.

In the first week that we adopted Boogie I remember thinking to myself: “This dog is SO sensitive! Everything freaks him out!”

Seriously, if anyone of us raised our voices- even if we were talking amongst ourselves and not to him – Boogie would cower like he was being scolded. It is no wonder he snaps the way he does. Now, I am neither excusing Boogie’s behavior nor taking his side just because he’s MY dog, but I wonder if it’s really 100% fair to classify Boogie as an “aggressive” dog…

Hypersensitive – definitely. But “aggressive”?

In any case, I hope this training will build Boogie’s confidence and make him feel more secure in general and hopefully less reactive.

Entry filed under: Outdoors, Social stuff, Training.

Boogie on down, yeah! Boogie barks!

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