Dear people at the park on Sunday:
I couldn’t help but overhear your dogs having a very bad reaction to each other. I also heard that it went on for a very long time. I don’t know whose dog started it. You, with the Golden and the Maltese, were probably very surprised when that Airedale came around the corner. I also have a dog who doesn’t like to be surprised, so I have a lot of sympathy. And I know that sometimes dogs can be jerks. I’m not blaming either of you. Kudos to you both, in fact, for knowing that your dogs were not model citizens and having them on appropriate leashes.
What I want to talk to you about is that you didn’t do anything to intervene in the situation. In fact, the opposite. Mr. Golden, you stood perfectly still, while Ms. Airedale walked by very slowly. Dogs can be jerks. Sometimes it’s hard to get away. Sometimes you just wish the ground would swallow you up. But it isn’t going to. When you let bad encounters go on and on and on, all you are doing is making the future worse.
First, Airedale lady, there was no reason that you couldn’t turn around and walk away. Given the layout of the park, you were not possibly walking toward your car or back to your house. I’m going to guess you had some idea that maybe if you just kept walking your dog would settle down and get over it. Would you settle down and get over it if I made you walk very slowly past a snake? How about if I covered your chair in spiders? Would that make you a better person? I don’t think so. Or, maybe you think that your dog is just “being a dog.” He isn’t. Please, be humane. When you can easily leave a situation that makes your dog have a meltdown, leave. Was walking over to that stagnant pond really worth so much psychological cruelty? If your dog “doesn’t usually act like that,” please be aware that this is exactly how “acting like that” starts.
Now, Golden and Maltese man, I am worried about you. Leash reactive dogs can easily redirect to the closest dog in their line of sight. Please be very careful having two reactive dogs of such disparate sizes. Also, I don’t think you had as much room to walk away as Ms. Airedale, but you could have done something. Even a few steps can be a huge help for your dog. There was enough room, even, for you to move quickly past the Airedale. I’ve found that leashes with built in traffic handles are great for sticky situations like that.
Both of you need to seek some professional training help. In the meantime, though, please learn how to walk away.
My Imperfect Dog