Are my dogs at fault for another dog's bad behaviour?
There's a woman down the street from me who owns what I think is a Lab/Poodle or Golden Retriever/Poodle mix. He's taller than my Boxers, has a golden coloured coat that is not quite as curly and as tight fitting as a Poodle's coat normally is, but you get the idea. I've spoken to the woman owning the dog several times in the past few years and she has always been terrified of letting her dog anywhere near my dogs because she claims her dog was once attacked by a white Boxer.
Fast forward to yesterday: I'm heading down my driveway with my two boys and preparing to head to the open field at the end of my road so the dogs can enjoy an off-leash run when the woman with said dog approaches and is headed in the same direction. I know how paranoid she is of my dogs (particularly of Chief since he is white) and offered to go elsewhere. She insisted that I not take another route. Surprisingly, she mentioned something about letting the dogs play together. I agreed to let them play and reassured the woman that my dogs have been well socialized and we've never had aggression issues. I let Chief off his leash first. He's the more laid back of the two and he immediately goes into play mode (front end low, back end up, front paws pouncing on the ground as if to say, "Please chase me!"). Sarge was still on leash and standing quietly beside me. Next thing I know, this woman's dog is growling and charging at Sarge! Sarge immediately goes into submissive mode and is laying on his back. She calls her dog off and away he goes. We walk a little further with no issues. Foolishly, I didn't listen to my gut and let Sarge off his leash. After what had initially happened, Sarge was keeping his distance, so I wasn't too worried. He was nowhere near this dog and was sniffing a spot of interest when the dog attacked Sarge yet again. The woman called her dog off, but had to intervene, re-leash and physically pull the dog away.
That was enough for me. No one was injured and I truly believe this dog's bark is meaner than his bite. I could tell that the woman felt bad and she decided to head for home, but instead of taking responsibility for her own dog's actions, she blamed my dogs! She thinks that because her dog has had a bad experience with another Boxer that her dog will always have issues with Boxers. Can dogs really identify between different breeds and be aggressive with specific breeds? I have a hard time believing her dog behaved the way it did simply because my dogs are Boxers. I suspect her dog hasn't been properly socialized. I noticed the woman was carrying a bag of treats with her that her dog was very much interested in. My guys didn't go anywhere near the woman or the treats, but I wonder if the dog has food aggression issues. I don't know. The whole ordeal has left me perplexed and somewhat offended since my dogs didn't provoke the other dog and were so well behaved. The woman actually commented on how "nice" my dogs are, but seemed to suggest that they were somehow at fault for her dog's bad behaviour simply because they are Boxers. Or, to put it another way, because a white Boxer had been aggressive with her dog in the past, my guys are guilty by association. Has anyone else ever encountered this type of mentality and do you think there is any merit to such a theory? I felt so bad for my dogs and the breed as a whole. It's unfortunate that the behaviour of one dog would ruin the reputation of the entire breed for this woman.
Stacey: a.k.a. mom to Chief, Sarge, & Buddy (05/28/01 - 08/31/09)
A dog is not "almost human" and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such. -- John Holmes