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My rehomed Staffie almost hurt another dog!

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Sammychappers, Aug 10, 2018.


  1. Sammychappers

    Sammychappers PetForums Newbie

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    My rehomed Staffie almost hurt another dog


    I recently rehomed my Mother’s 3 year old Staffordshire Terrier cross, as Mum is in poor health and not able to take her for walks. Xena is very affectionate dog with adults and children. I believed that she was friendly with other dogs as she previously lived with a Greyhound and a Jack Russell. When taken for walks, she seemed quite happy to sniff at other dogs whether on or off the lead and never seemed very interested in them.


    We’ve had her a week, in which she has been going out for regular walks every day. She dotes on my two small children and is friendly to visitors and strangers. She initially had trouble settling in, and has had a few peeing accidents in the house and would sometimes pace around. But she has become more relaxed each day. Any way, I took her for a walk yesterday and she was off her lead. A couple approached us with a small Yorkie on a lead. I said Xena was friendly and they said their dog liked to wrestle. Before I had time to react, their dog was jumping on Xena and nipping at her neck with her teeth. Xena backed away but the Yorkie pursued her. The owners didn’t try and pull their dog away and allowed her to carry on because obviously I had said that Xena was friendly. Xena suddenly snapped and lunged at the Yorkie, snarling and held her down with her open mouth. I shouted at her to stop, which she did instantly, and I put her back on the lead. Thankfully, it appeared that the Yorkie hadn’t been bitten or hurt.

    Understandably, the owners were very upset and angry. They yelled at me for saying Xena was friendly when she was ‘clearly’ a dangerous dog. I was very apologetic and explained that this had never happened before. But, I also felt that they should not let their dog ‘wrestle’ with other dogs they do not know. They viewed their dog nipping at Xena’s neck as being playful. They said she was only 8 months old. But the Yorkie wasn’t waggling her tail and was jumping on the spot, aiming for Xena’s neck. I personally feel that they think it’s playful because their dog is cute and fluffy. Because Xena is bigger and a Staffie, her response looked/was more aggressive. The owners ordered me to keep Xena away from their dog and their angry voices caused Xena to snarl at then, bearing her teeth. She pulled towards them on the lead as if to lunge at them, and the woman repeated that she was a dangerous dog. Even I was frightened of Xena, but she listened to my commands and we walked away.

    I went home and cried my eyes out. It was such a horrible experience. I am so angry with myself for letting her off the lead and being too trusting. When she lived with my Mum, Xena was only taken out for walks once every other day. But the family members who walked her said she was fine with other dogs, and she has been on all occasions bar this one. So, I thought it was safe. What if Xena had bit and killed her! How awful. I could never forgive myself.

    I’m not an experienced dog owner and this has really shook me. I’ve even debated rehoming her at a rescue centre. That would be a cop out, I know. My Husband thinks we should give her to someone who has a better understanding of dogs. And I admit, I’m over sensitive. I even get upset when people cross the road to avoid passing Xena, even though she is on a lead. My emotions are just all over the place. Having two kids also makes me nervous. She shows them nothing but affection. I worry that if we are ever in a position where a stranger is shouting, she might get protective of us and lash out. I would really appreciate some advice. Have you ever been in this situation with your dog? Was Xena’s reaction a behavioural concern or, the act of a dog that felt threatened? Both maybe? This is the first time she has ever gone for anyone in her entire 3 years. Sorry for the long message!


    Thanks,


    Sam
     
  2. Rafa

    Rafa PetForums VIP

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    I understand why this incident has upset you, but your bitch really did not do much wrong. By putting the Yorkie down, she was simply trying to stop it from jumping on her. Believe me, if your Staffy had been showing real aggression, she would have injured the puppy and she did not.

    When she backed away from the pup, she was giving clear signals that she was very uncomfortable and when those signals weren't heeded, she had no choice other than to take matters into her own hands.

    Many adult dogs don't tolerate pups too well, certainly, my Jack Russell bitch would have done exactly what yours did.

    Until you get to know your bitch better, I would walk her on a lead and I wouldn't encourage meetings with other dogs. There really is no need for dogs to 'socialise' with others.
     
  3. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums Member

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    Wow, a lot to unpack here! I hope I can help :)
    This is actually a perfectly appropriate correction on the part of your dog. Now... there are some tweaks I would make, but in general Xena behave entirely appropriately. 1) She tried to remove herself, 2) when that didn't work she escalated her warning but did not hurt the yorkie, and 3) when you shouted, she stopped - instantly.

    At 8 months the yorkie is still considered a youngster, but she has lost what's called "puppy licence" where other dogs will be more tolerant of rude behavior. (Running up to a dog and nipping at their neck might be meant playfully by the yorkie, but it's rude in the dog world and Xena was right to tell her to knock it off.)

    Now for the tweaks :) Yes, Xena corrected a rude puppy appropriately, but, she should not have had to escalate to that point. As dog owners, it's our job to manage dog interactions and let our own dogs know that we will intervene before they have to. As soon as Xena backed away, that's your cue to step in and get the yorkie puppy off of her. And seriously, don't be shy about it. I've many a times put my foot out to dogs being rude to my dog, he too is a big bull breed-looking mutt and I'd much rather an owner think I'm the aggressor than my dog because sadly the vast majority of owners don't understand appropriate corrections in dogs, especially not if your dog has a certain look to him. And also, like I said, I want my dog to know that *I* will handle things, that he doesn't have to. That goes a long way towards helping your dog be okay with other dogs.

    Yup, like I said, most dog owners simply don't understand appropriate dog interactions.

    Okay, now this part I would work on. Sounds like Xena picked up on your emotions and got caught up in it. Bull-breeds are very good at feeding off aroused emotions in humans and getting aroused themselves. I would definitely work on this, one, strategies to help keep yourself calm, and two, strategies to remind Xena that she doesn't have to react just because you are. Simply telling her to go lie down, or removing her from the situation is a good start.

    But she showed lovely restraint and clearly had no intention of harming the yorkie. Why not focus on that? That your dog was provoked and chose NOT to hurt another dog. Had she wanted to, yup, she could have seriously injured the yorkie, but that's not what she chose to do. To me that means you have a lovely, normal, very much NOT dangerous dog :)
     
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  4. labradrk

    labradrk PetForums VIP

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    Perfectly normal, reasoned reaction from your bitch. In hindsight you should have politely declined their offer for the dogs to meet, but hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing.

    People are quick to scream about dangerous dogs when the image doesn’t fit - I’d not worry.

    As mentioned above, there is no real reason for dogs to need to meet random dogs on walks because you risk running into situations like this. I do not allow interactions with other dogs for this reason and we actively avoid them.
     
  5. kimthecat

    kimthecat PetForums VIP

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    Agree with every one else , perfectly normal dog behaviour. Zena sounds a sweetheart :)
     
  6. Sammychappers

    Sammychappers PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for taking the time to reply. Some really useful advice and insight. It’s been an ovhelming first week for us and the dog. It’s a relief to know that her actions with the Yorkie were normal. I will take note of what you have advised and hopefully avoid this kind of interaction in future. It’s all part of the learning curve. I’m still in the early days of getting to know her, and it’s both exciting and frightening! Thanks again


     
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  7. Sammychappers

    Sammychappers PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you. She really is a bunny rabbit in a lions body!

     
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  8. kimthecat

    kimthecat PetForums VIP

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    Bless her ! :) If you are able to post a photo , it would be nice to see her.
     
  9. Sammychappers

    Sammychappers PetForums Newbie

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    Here is the lady herself....Xena, in her much loved new bed. She’s a Staffie/ Rhodesian ridgeback cross.
     

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  10. Sammychappers

    Sammychappers PetForums Newbie

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    Just posted!

     
  11. kimthecat

    kimthecat PetForums VIP

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    Oh she is beautiful . I love the colour of her coat. I hope your mum will still get to see her . She must miss her .
     
  12. Sammychappers

    Sammychappers PetForums Newbie

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    Oh, definitely! We will take her to my Mum’s for regular visits once she’s more settled here. Mum is heartbroken but happy knowing the Xena can lead a better life with us. And of course, she can see her whoever she wants!

     
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  13. boxermadsam

    boxermadsam PetForums Member

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    OP she's beautiful - just my kind of dog x
     
  14. DizzyNova

    DizzyNova PetForums Junior

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    OP, I'm sorry about your experience! We don't own a bull breed but know all too well that feeling when people cross the street to avoid your dog or pull their dog in a little bit closer to them to 'protect' them from our 'clearly savage' dog (rescued husky cross who is incredibly vocal!)

    It really winds me when people let their dogs play rough with dogs they don't know. The dogs don't really know what is appropriate and what isn't. Your dog was completely justified in telling the puppy to back off... better to be a bark and a snarl than a bite! We have two dogs, the previously mentioned husky cross who is 4 (Nova) and an 11 month old cockapoo (Luna) and they play rough together. Nova still sometimes will tell Luna off for being obnoxious, and they've lived together for over 7 months... as you can imagine, it was a lot more frequent in the early days so can you imagine if it was a strange dog completely!!

    Nova was originally a street dog and missed out on early stages of socialisation. She doesn't really understand cues from other dogs well and so we do the sensible thing and keep her on a lead when we're out on walks, because she loves other dogs so much her recall just isn't good when dogs are around. It just wouldn't be fair to other dog walkers to have our bouncy, nutty husky in their face while they try to enjoy a walk with their dog. I think in this respect, you had every right to be mad at the other owners for letting their puppy be obnoxious (I always think it's funny what these smaller dogs can get away with... nobody would tolerate a larger dog doing the same!).

    At least she was responsive to your instructions and left when you told her to. I think spend some time getting used to one another and you will find she'll be a lovely addition to your family. It's still a transitional period for both of you, don't let one bad experience put you off.
     
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