A.J. and I had an interesting encounter on our walk this evening. This encounter would have given a heart attack to the nervous dog walker we met up with several weeks ago. But to be fair, it would have given a heart attack to a lot of people.
A.J. and I were walking along the sidewalk when I heard barking from a garage across the street. I looked and saw a dog running out of the garage towards us. This dog probably weighed 100 lbs., and all the hair was standing up on his back. This was not looking like a “Hey, another dog! How’s it going?!” type of encounter, this was looking like a “This space is mine, GET OUT!” type of encounter.
I quickly shortened up A.J.’s leash and put him behind me. I faced the oncoming dog and yelled “NO!! NO!!” It stopped in middle of the street, backed up a little, then stood in middle of the street barking. The hair was still up on its back. We faced each other for a moment, I yelled “NO!” again, then I slowly moved a little. When the other dog didn’t make a move to follow, I started moving slowly, still facing him. We finally moved far enough away that he wandered back towards his garage. No one ever came out of any of the houses.
My purpose in relaying this story isn’t to point out the lapse of attention by the other dog’s owner, but instead to point out that I am SO PROUD of A.J.! During his reactive days, he would have lunged and barked at this other dog, escalating the situation, and who knows what would have happened. Instead, when I put him behind me he very calmly stayed there. (He was peeking out between my legs the whole time, but he stayed there.)
This is a good argument for working with a trainer, even if you have a dog that doesn’t have the problems that A.J. used to have. A good trainer can help you deal not only with your dog but with encounters with other dogs. Between the work I’ve done with rescue dogs and the great advice I got from my trainer (thank you, Jerry!), I was able to deal with this situation. No one got hurt, we all walked away just fine. Hopefully the owner of the other dog realized he was out there and brought him in so no one gets hurt in the future.