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Thread: Horror at the off leash dog beach

  1. #1
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Horror at the off leash dog beach

    I've more or less stopped going to the main off leash dog beach because Oscar, the older Border Collie, has grown increasingly intolerant of badly behaved dogs approaching us. If they are the same size or larger than him and young Saffie, he will snap a warning, especially if they rush up with no manners. Its just a "piss off and leave me alone" thing, but still a worry as I don't know how the other dog will react. Smaller dogs are fine. It's the favourite beach in the dry season as I swim there (happily ignoring the potential crocs) and is just gorgeous. This weekend there was a festival at our smaller and less dog-frequented off leash beach I usually go to, with less chance of hassles, so I decided to try the main one. Bad move.

    Yesterday early morning I went there for the first time in ages, not for swimming (still a possibility of stingers which are much scarier than crocs.....) and had an awful experience. Shortly after arriving I saw a young woman with a couple of dogs in the distance who I immediately assessed as potential triggers for Oscar, a staffy and a boisterous bull arab cross, both 2 or 3 times bigger or heavier than Oscar, so I put him on the leash. Within seconds they's rushed up to us, prompting Oscar to give a F@!ck off snap and it was on. Both dogs went berserk, with Oscar not even trying to fight back, just lying on the sand screaming. The big one kept going for his throat while the staffy just grabbed anything it could.

    I was screaming, Oscar was screaming (Saffie I think was just dancing around going "oh, this looks like fun", don't know, I lost focus on her). The young woman ran up and was trying to pull off the big one while I managed to wrench the staffy off by its collar with one hand while keeping hold of Oscar on the leash with the other. Managed to keep the staffy under control, but the owner was totally unable to hold the bigger dog, it kept breaking free from her grip and rushing back to Oscar's throat. It was awful. Luckily there was a young fellow up in the dunes who ran down to help and got the big dog sort of under control while I gave the staffy to the woman to hold and dragged Oscar away.

    I had to ask her to kick my lost thong over so I could continue away up the beach while she dragged her two in the opposite direction. She didn't even have a bloody leash and so dragged them away by their collars. It was my nightmare scenario, though in hindsight I am grateful for some things - Oscar on the leash meant I was there in the middle of it, but also meant I had some control over what was happening - if he was off leash I would be running into a bust up with dogs free to move and much harder to control what was happening. Plus Oscar being all fluffy meant less chance of teeth ripping in to flesh. And, I have to admit, I don't think those dogs were trying to rip flesh - I've seen that happen and it's devastating and fast. I think they were just trying to teach him who was boss. But might not be so lucky next time, there are a lot of hunting dogs that go there.

    So miraculously there was no torn flesh, Oscar was limping, but I think that was because one of the horrors was pulling him by his back leg at one stage (hip dyplasia). We continued on the walk (get back on that horse) and he limped for a bit but was generally fine. The hardest part was getting all the sand out of his coat after being slammed around. Saffie was quite unconcerned (she's usually quite timid), which made me think it was a fairly mild touch up which could have been much,much worse. So I was left devastated while both dogs enjoyed the remainder of their walk. I felt I failed in my duty to keep him safe, but he doesn't seem to hold it against me!

  2. #2

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    Best tip I can offer is drop your leash. Your dog will do better on it's own than with you holding it back and it gives you two free hands to deal with the attacking dog/dogs.

  3. #3
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    I've had similar things happen at my park. Sometimes chucking a handful of treats in the face of a friendly but rude approach can help give you time to get away.

    Mostly Frosty is big enough to take care of herself - I drop the leash and she chases the rude dog back to where it came from without hurting it.

    It's strange how screaming really doesn't help. There was a very strange man walking along our off lead beach the other day - and he'd fix every dog with a very anxious and unwavering stare. And that attracted doggy attention.

    I think Frosty thought he was one of her old man friends and went over to check and as she approached (15m away) he started flapping his arms screaming "OSCAR OSCAR" and "FOUR HOLES" - which made no sense to any of us but got the dogs very excited. She ducked in for a quick sniff at 3m (out of his reach) and came back to me.

    He never let up on the direct stare and then he started running into the sand hills like a frightened cow, which really got Frosty interested. I put her on lead. So presently he had no dogs anywhere near him but was still screaming. Then he ran further up the beach - where there were a lot more dogs. Including some very rude schnauzers that got the same treatment.

    I don't know how you teach people who are scared of dogs - how to deal with them.

    And yet when I have dogs running up to Frosty when she's on lead - the only thing I can think of to do is to step at them and yell GO AWAY. The combination of stepping at them yelling works better than screaming and running away. Treats - is going to get you followed eventually so your only choice then is to leave.

    I just hate that so many owners think it's ok for their dogs to get in other dogs' faces.

  4. #4
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    Well Mags has clearly learned something. Walking off lead through our park (not a busy park just a local haunt). Maggie was ahead and to my left I saw a very large rotti off lead heading in the opposite direction. Looked for Maggie and she was sitting very quietly behind a bush watching me approach and the rotti go. I was impressed, she has had a hard time from large dogs as she weighs in at 14kgs which only gives her speed as a defence from rudeness.

  5. #5
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    Well personally I hate it when people allow dogs that they have marginal control over to rush up to me if I have a dog on a leash or even when I dont. I had a dog rush me other day and start to get in my Border collies face. Fortunately it was a girl dog and he is always very polite with girl dogs even though she was snarling and growling in his face. The owner was trying to tell me that she didnt mean anything by it, maybe she didnt and my boy seemed to be able to deal with it. One day she is going to rush the wrong dog.

    I also hate it when people have dogs that if something goes wrong they have no hope of controlling. Personally I would have told the woman what I thought of her. Did she ask if your dog was okay? Dread to think what would have happened if it had been a small dog. My friend had her toy breed shaken to death in a similar incident.

  6. #6
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    Frosty wiped me out today - with the help of another dog who tripped me up.

    She lunged at a dog that was doing that herding eye thing at us - I think she wanted to join in and chase or get off lead and go foraging in the playground more likely. So she pulls my arm behind me and as I step back, I catch another dog with my ankle and that's it, I fall over. I land on my knee and wrist and let the evil hound go. I managed not to squash the other dog. I think I would have killed it if I had landed on it.

    Lots of people acted concerned which is nice I guess, and someone brought the evil hound back to me. I was so mad at her. She really wanted to go off lead and that was her way of telling me. Except she'd just eaten the wrapper from a discarded yiros on the footy field and would have polished off the onions and meat filling if she had been given the opportunity. So I was not letting her off for more foraging.

    I was so grumpy with her, she was short lead all the way home and tomorrow - she gets to wear the front attach harness again. That gives me twice as much power if she takes off and she ends up facing me and I stay right side up.

  7. #7
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    Your Oscar sounds a bit like my Banjo, Troppo. She's female though, so probably bit different as far as her motivation to be anti-social goes and might get a slightly different response from male dogs too. I was quite upset and tense when I noticed that she started to growl and then snap at dogs that greeted her on walks. I ended up paying $200 to see a behavioural trainer. I thought I didn't get much out of that session, but in hindsight it pretty much gave me the confidence to think about it more clearly and come to strategy that worked for both of us.

    I think the main things I learnt was a) to accept that my dog just doesn't and most likely never will like strange dogs. She's fine once she gets to know them usually, but she just doesn't like socialising with them when she meets them in passing. I suppose you could say she simply doesn't like smalltalk. And she feels easily threatened so gets defensive straight away. And b) I needed to teach her strategies to avoid having to resort to threatening body language and to find an "out".

    I still count to 5 when she meets another dog at the off leash area. A quick sniff, then I call her to me as I walk off briskly. It usually works quite well, though occasionally she reacts at the count of 3, but it's manageable - she stops immediately when I call her. Mainly because she has gained so much confidence in these situations. I think the biggest effect on her was from a few experiences where I encouraged her to keep walking away when the other dog wouldn't take no for an answer. It is very hard for a dog to turn their back on another dog that follows them. But my dog has learnt that if she persists and just ignores them and keeps walking, they usually give up quite quickly. That was a huge turning point for us.

    So I find it way more scary to have her on the leash when strange dogs approach. Because our whole strategy revolves around her knowing that she can just walk away from conflict.

    My previous dog was a bully and I was an inexperienced dog owner and didn't tackle it effectively (or at all). So I witnessed a lot of dog scuffles. Always upsetting, even when you know they're not trying to cause damage.

    And it is unacceptable to let your dog run up to a dog on leash. Especially 2 of them!
    Last edited by Beloz; 05-12-2014 at 11:52 AM.

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