To be fair.

I have mentioned that Melvin has challenges with other dogs.  I’m selling him short when I say that.  There are issues with other dogs but it’s not always Melvin’s fault.

First off, he is exuberant leash reactive.  For those of you who walk a dog on leash you know, ‘leash reactive’ is an equation.

  1. First, there is the dog, who on most occasions will pull towards something they want to be closer to.  Not perfect behavior but certainly not always aggression.  Often for Melvin,  he is just excited to see or meet someone new.
  2. Second, there is the person holding the leash.  In Melvin’s case, that’s me.  When he pulls, I stop.  Even if it means falling down digging my heels in the ground.  At the same time, my heart rate goes up, knowing that ‘reactivity’ could occur.  Funny, because this is the part of the equation that usually causes that reaction.
  3. This circles us back to the dog/Melvin.  He senses my concern and goes into a different state.  I don’t want him charging this other person (or dog) so now he must.
  4. The last part of the equation is the leash.  It pulls tight (due to its anchors) and a different mood is put into play.  Tension.

So yes, Melvin is leash reactive. But so am I.  I could blame the leash but who’d believe me.

Next, there is no way Melvin was socialized as a puppy.  He greets other dogs at a fast, excited pace and goes right in for a face-to-face hello.  I swear he thinks he’s Parisian because it’s almost like he tries to give the dog a kiss on each cheek.  Although  Melvin looks goofy and wiggly and is wagging his nubin and perhaps in some language saying ‘yippeee, play, play, play’ when barreling towards the other dog,  meeting face-to-face in the dog world is rude and the dog will usually issue a warning.  Here is where socialization comes in handy.  Socialized dogs read cues.  They (hopefully) react accordingly.  Melvin thinks every cue means ‘definitely speed-up’.  When a dog does not like how Melvin is playing and barks or snaps, Melvin hears ‘keep going, I love you’.  Some dogs tolerate it, some do not.

Of course, there are a handful (ok, two handfuls) of dogs that Melvin sees on walks that I can tell will be an issue. He is way too aware of them, assumes a lunging stance and barks and/or growls.  We u-turn, about-face or cross the street.

We are all works in progress.

6 thoughts on “To be fair.

  1. Our dear Miss Ginger Rogers and Lucy Lou were also not socialized as a pups, which I think it their issue with Turk. Our gone-in-a-flash foster Ginger, Jr. was still pretty much a puppy, so she knew how to back off when Turk gave a low growl or stared her down. But Ginger and Lucy Lou? Like Melvin, they take a growl, a paw swipe, a huge alligator mouth coming towards them with razor-sharp precision as an invitation to play. Sigh.

  2. It’s so tough! I often find myself tensing up when I think that Zoe is going to do something naughty (i.e., resource guard), which I know makes everything worse because she’s so attuned to how I’m feeling. What’s tough with Zoe is that she’s unpredictable when greeting dogs. Sometimes she’s an angel and will flip onto her back and let everyone smell her (while her tail is wagging), but other times, she will growl. It depends on the dog, which is why I never know what to do when people ask me if our dogs can meet! We are all works in progress, and you’re definitely not alone!

  3. Our new neighbors have a small fluffy dog that does not like other dogs. Maggie & Duke usually like other dogs, except when the dog is pulling a Brian Griffin (“hey other dog, hey other dog, hey other dog…F U!”). They were coming up the street when the 3 of us were coming down the hill tonight. Since fluffy was barking aggressively & bouncing up & down, the 2 punks decided that jumping & barking like psychos was a GREAT idea! Ninety combined pounds of dog with 8 feet for traction almost face planted me in the street in front of our house. Luckily our downhill momentum was enough to keep the jerks moving away from the stuffy on crack. Yay, another training opportunity….

    • I just laughed hysterically at the vision of all of this and the ‘pulling a Brian Griffin’ part!! We have a fluffy next door and she is never walked or exercised and we often run into her while she is off leash with no owner in sight. Melvin views this dog as an appetizer.

      • Maggie usually likes other dogs unless they’re aggressive or all over her. She likes our friends’ show husky and was being really flirty, so he decided to try and mount her. She is spayed and NOT that kind of girl, so she grabbed him by the throat and put him on the ground. Oops. He’s twice her size and will roll on his back whenever he sees her now.

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