Responsibility With Dogs That Have History

Lately, there have been many news stories where the dog bites another dog or dog bites a person. Many of these dogs have been “adopted” from a rehabilitation rescue centre. I see two problems here with this issue, as my friend and I were discussing over the phone this morning. Rehabilitation rescue centres are supposed to do background checks of a prospective adopter. Some are failing to do these checks, which leads to these dogs who are still being rehabilitated to be set up for failure. Right, well we can’t all blame the Rehabilitation rescue centres either. When the blame now resides on the adopter for neglecting the past history their new dog has. Think about it for one moment if you would, the title in the rescue centre says “Rehabilitation” – common sense would dictate to you that this dog is in the rehab centre for a reason. An issue with his or her past, that led to this point. Now, if the Rehabilitation centre did their JOB correctly, they would have given you a history of the dog’s issue, so you can take proper precautions to prevent any repetitive issues.

Therefore, as my friend is now facing – if a dog bites your dog and the owner knows this dog has a history of “biting” yet didn’t take proper precautions. Then we have a major issue on our hands and a dangerous situation. I don’t care how big or small your dog may be, all breeds of dogs will have an aggressive streak and will have history, and will repeat the offence if you do not properly take precautions. If your dog bites another dog, then that IS YOUR FAULT, no one else.
It is your responsibility as the new guardian to take steps that prevent these accidents! The steps you need to take to prevent these accidents are the following, and yes some of these steps I dislike, however, is necessary.

  1. Muzzles – they are a must do if said dog has a history
  2. Leashing – bite history dogs must be on a strict leashing, hate to say it but it must be 4 to 5 ft and no more. I’ll explain why – this will help you bring the dog closer to you quicker then a longer leash if you suspect your dog is about to lunge. Even if your dog is muzzled they can still do damage!
  3. Avoid – Avoid areas, places and other that would place your dog in a situation that would cause them to bite! For example – if you know your dog is “dog aggressive” STEER CLEAR of dog parks, friends or family with dogs of their own.
  4. If another dog is charging at your dog – You stand firm and calm and yell, NO to the other dog. Sometimes this will stop the charging, other times not. So what do you do in this situation? Well, common sense for those who do walk their dogs daily is to bring deterrents, because as we know, walking our dogs although nice, can be hazardous. Be prepared, bring pepper sprays, or a backpack full of clothes or a blanket.

Pepper sprays – are non-lethal and in most cases will deter the other dog from attacking. While the dog is semi-occupied by the pepper spray, walk away slowly always watching that dog for his next move. If he charges again, the backpack with clothes or a blanket in it should now be placed in front of you as a shield from snapping teeth. Get it? It’s soft non-harmful and will protect you from being bitten. Push the dog back with that backpack, keep at it while keeping your dog from fighting. This will eventually tire the other dog out. Walk away slowly, yet DON’T turn your back on that dog.
There is also air horns the loud noise may deter the other dog from attacking. If not then it will surely make them lose focus if they’re already fighting.

These are non-lethal methods, other methods involve walking sticks, break sticks etc. Which is NOT really necessary. These sticks tend to injure the dogs more so than the actual attack.
The main thing to prevent any dog attack is to watch for the body language seen in chart below:

If this is the body language you see an unleashed dog having- AVOID, do not even step forward, go the other way while keeping an eye on that dog. Common sense. If you miss these signs (which isn’t even possible!) Then you are placing your dog and yourself in danger, period.

Another scenario – little dog runs up to the big dog in an aggressive stance, and you see this yet do nothing. Well, what do you think will happen? You as a guardian have failed, and in this instance, the big dog will hurt the little dog with one bite. Not to mention, you have just allowed the big dog to initiate a DOMINANT TRAIT, which has just thrown any training you may have done out the window. – Square one all over again.

Yes, I’m one of those “pack mentality” thinking people. Because the fact is, dogs are “pack” animals and having a “pack” animal in your household, you do need to show who the boss is. You should be the alpha and show it in your step/presence by acting quick and smart when these things happen. By STEPPING between your dog and the attacking dog. It is YOUR JOB as guardian and Pack Leader to protect your companion or pack, depending on how many dogs you may have… Any logical behavioral trainer would and will tell you this.

In summary – When adopting any dog with past issues, ask for HISTORY. Be PREPARED, AVOID situations. PROTECT your dog from other dogs. Do your JOB and don’t blame others for your mistakes. It’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY just as it’s the other person’s responsibility.

Also – If you know your dog has issues with others, ALWAYS HAVE A LEASH ON, period.