This video is by client and friend of K9 Pro, Jen Martin. Jen has been bringing her dog Roscoe to me since he was an 8 week old puppy and this video shows Jen at a social dog event and Roscoe being attacked by another dog.
Roscoe, in my opinion is a very good dog, well bred, trained and raised, he was a star in the video. Jen chose to Neutralise Roscoe as per my Raising a working puppy program which has set his value to other dogs to a low, unrewarding status. To understand more about this program, see my article here.
I also wrote a blog post called “Is your small dog a Target” after a few things occurred in my own life, one of them being Jen’s video. I wanted to describe as a “dog trainer and behaviourist” what I see in this video just so as the general public can understand what is happening and what should have been done.
The video starts out with Jen describing how she came to make the video and then her ranting, I guess I can understand her feelings.
There is a part in Jens description where she describes the owner laughing and excusing their dogs behaviour as being ok because the dog was small. This really is a major problem because when this behaviour is not only present in a dog (any dog), but it is also accepted and excused, it will surely end up with the bigger dog not accepting the “he is small” excuse and dealing the small dog out a beating, resulting in major trauma or death to the small dog. Then somehow, the large dog will be at fault.
The video opens up with Roscoe walking over toward the water bowl, at about 1.30 on the counter. Although the camera is on his chest, you can tell quite a bit about this part of the footage.
First note that Roscoe does not have an elevated head position, in fact he is sniffing the ground on the way over and drinks some water. Totally non engaging the smaller dog.
At 1.33 after having a drink you will see that he calmly scents the other dog, there have been some comments that Roscoe started this by approaching the other dog unwelcome.
Well when a dog wants to identify another, the CORRECT behaviour is to scent it, so this would be like me saying Hello to someone, in a calm, non invasive way.
As soon as the small dog became aware that Roscoe was there it snapped at him (on video 1.35), now I don’t blame the dog for this really, it may have been startled by Roscoe and this snapping is a perfectly normal reaction to a startled dog.
The problem is that the dog had a second snap, then a third and was displaying stalking and aggressive behaviour.
A few things that become apparent at this point to me: –
1. The small dog has reactivity issues to other (perhaps only large breed?) dogs.
2. There is a youngish boy holding the dog
3. The dog is allowed to continue this behaviour without any useful intervention by the owners.
4. People stand idly by, even the lady at the stall is smiling away.
Here are some thoughts: –
Why would you bring a dog that has a behaviour problem like this to a dog event?
Why would you let a person incapable of handling the dog, handle the dog?
Why not remove the dog from the immediate vicinity?
If Roscoe had of retaliated, I bet there would be a dozen hands on trying to help, but when the small dog attacks the big dog, it doesn’t seem to be an issue?
Jen has added some subtitles as to the conversation that took place, here are some.
Guy?: “He doesn’t like big dogs“
Guy: “its always the small ones“.
Jen “that’s not an excuse to attack another dog“
Jen: “if he retaliated that dog could be dead“
Female owner: “well, he’s a rescue. Alright?“
Jen: “No, that is still not an excuse“.
Lady at stall to small dog owners: “just move away, the intensity is…” Good on you lady at stall, spot on.
Focus on the excuses given to excuse the dogs behaviour, because that’s what an excuse is, a reason to excuse the behaviour. Let’s remember that the REASONS that the small dog aggressed toward Roscoe may be all of the above (the “rescue” card doesn’t fly with me though) but they do not EXCUSE this behaviour. In fact all these reasons are perfectly good examples why this dog should have not been brought to a public dog social event.
Look at the pic below and see the small dog, this dog is in major stress driven by fear, even for the small dogs sake, why expose this dog to this environment?
I want to say that I can understand why the small dogs owners said what they did, they were probably startled, confused and emotional too, but nevertheless, I am 100% positive this dog has displayed this behaviour many times in the past, so it really should come as no surprise.
What should / could have been done?
Leave the small dog at home, why subject the small dog to more trauma? If you wanted to bring the small dog as perhaps therapy, then perhaps consider using harness that says”Give me Space“, (here) or there are companies that make leashes and collars that indicate if a dog is friendly or not.
Be alert, if you are managing a dog with an issue in a “target rich environment“, then be on top of your management.
Perhaps consider a muzzle to protect the other dogs?
If you find yourself in a situation like this, apologise and move away, do not stay in the area in which your dog cannot manage its behaviour.
In final the small dog in this video most certainly could be helped, it isn’t the dogs “destiny” to behave this way, there are many alternatives.
There are very few dogs that would stand there and cop this, Roscoe is a large, Working Line German Shepherd with plenty of grunt under the hood, that small dog is very lucky that Jen has Roscoe so well trained.
Many of the dogs I have personally owned whilst would not start a fight, would have ended the small dog and the owner too and went out to lunch after. This is really dangerous and makes the whole “dog owner” world look very bad.
Let’s get our act together!
As always we welcome all comments, just post away below with your thoughts!