Monday, March 9, 2009

DJ hates people

Having a nervous, not-exactly-friendly dog can be a challenge. Not so much in the world of dog-savvy people but among the normal people it can be kind of scary, for both DJ and I.

Before DJ came into our lives, I was pretty clueless about dog body language and what a nervous dog might look like. Since however, I'm much more careful with the way I approach dogs, don't pet them unless they clearly solicit the attention and then I ask their handler. With the all clear from both parties, petting commences.

DJ does not enjoy the attentions of strangers. Sometimes he'll jump up on the leg of someone he has met before. Because he so rarely approaches other people outside of the house, I don't really discourage that behavior no matter what they think of jumping up. (I actually don't discourage jumping up at all ever.)

Over the weekend we met an adorable girl min pin on our afternoon walk. She had a lovely undocked tail and un-cropped ears. I was envious of her tail, I love undocked tails. She was very sweet and DJ was entirely appropriate sniffing and socializing. He's always fairly polite with other min pins, I shouldn’t say always, he's only met two others that I know of.

The dog was with a man and a woman and we were talking when all of a sudden the woman pounced on DJ, I should have realized that she was moving closer, staring at him. But I didn't, so she fell on him and tried to take his face in her hands, barking snarling and snapping ensued. I was trying to move away, push DJ back and shoo her away and talk all at the same time. Not working. She stayed in his face, saying, he won't bite will he?

Um yes, he could. He was certainly threatening it and is not averse to using his teeth to make a point. I don't think he bit her, she didn't say that he did but it kind of soured the conversation even though I explained his history and wariness with people.

Of course I was a little upset with DJ but mostly with myself for not stopping her more strenuously even if it meant being rude and I wanted to talk min pins so I was loathe to be seen as rude but still should have stepped in sooner.

Secondly I thought it was rude of her to do but dogs have to be bombproof against all manner of dumb things that people do. Not fair but there you go.


  1. I totally disagree that dogs have to be bombproof against dumb people. I NEVER let anyone touch or approach Roscoe. I am very quick to say "NOT FRIENDLY" and make damn sure no one approaches him. It's my job and it keeps him and everyone safe. You shouldn't be upset with DJ. He has every right to pick and chose who his friends are and it is your responsibility to allow that. I firmly believe that. I pick MY friends, so why can't the dogs pick theirs. He shouldn't have to be friendly to anyone. You may need to be more firm with people. Protect DJ from people like that.

  2. You can disagree but people will not be blamed no matter how stupid they are, but the dog will and I have gone so far as to physically picking him up and walking away when someone won't back away from him despite my saying that he is not friendly and his completely obvious agreement with that fact.

    Also in my defense, I think I was pretty clear that I was completely taken by surprise...

  3. I do not ever let Roscoe get close enough to bite anyone. And I have had him now for 9 years, so that's a pretty good record. I just don't let anyone get that close. I am VERY firm about it. You probably don't have to be that aware, thus your surprise, because DJ isn't as bad as Roscoe. When you have one that WILL bite and WILL sink in teeth, you are intensely aware. I protect Roscoe, always, and in the process I protect people from him. It isn't worth the risk, so I never let it happen. DJ sounds like a much more solid dog, but when you live with a dog like Roscoe you quickly learn to be absolutely aware and never let yourself get taken by surprise. I have to be that way or Roscoe would have been put down years ago. He is that bad!!

  4. Amy
    How do you go to seminars and such? I've wanted to go to some agility seminars but having a somewhat unpredictable guy I've avoided them.

  5. I think you will find that people are pretty savvy at most seminars. And I just make it VERY clear that he isn't friendly. The crazy thing is most people never even know. I find at most seminars people really aren't that interested in socializing with my dog, they are there to learn with their own dog and they never give my dog attention. Years later I make mention of his aggression and they are surprised to hear it. I just make sure he is off to the side, crate covered when I am not working him, and when out I make it very clear to anyone who approaches that he WILL bite and is NOT friendly. Sometimes I have to be very firm about it because he is wicked cute. But when I say "He is NOT friendly and WILL bite you!!", most people back off. If they don't, I take him away. I don't make any excuses, he is a BAD dog. I am THAT intense about it. He is on anti-anxiety medication and is a patient of Dr. Nicholas Dodman's at Tufts. I work very hard to prevent him from ever acting aggressive.

  6. Wow he does sound like a tough case. He's lucky to have such a knowledgeable handler.

    Luckily for the world, DJ isn't that intense. He's gotten so much better that I do let down my guard sometimes and then find myself preparing for disasters that have already happened.

    Like, well THAT won't happen again but then its just some other thing. *g*

    Live and learn, nonetheless next time a big name muckety muck is in town and I have some cash I'm just going to go.

  7. Teehee!! You ARE hid hard with the agility bug!!

    I just took ANOTHER job so I can afford ANOTHER seminar!! Let's see, that makes five I have signed up for already this year. Well, actually one was a Rally O seminar that I did last month, but that counts, doesn't it???

    I am doing a Lo Baker jumping seminar this Sunday. A Julie Daniels seminar the end of the month. BARK camp with Jen Pinder, Lo Baker and Rhonda Carter, in June. An Alicia Calhoun seminar in August. Phew............

  8. Oooh fun!

    All day agility learning, who could resist! The only seminar I've been to was auditing one with Tracy Sklenar before we even got started in agility. I had no idea what she was talking about, I think I'd get a lot more out of it now.

    And rally counts!

    You have a lot of fun learning planned. I really will need to increase my income stream to afford all this fun, and another dog one day, then it will really be out of control.