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Altercation with a German Shepherd


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Hello everyone,

So I had an eventful day, I don't even know how to start, but just really need to vent.
I went on a hike today with BF and my dog Molly in a forest nearby where you can walk your dog off leash. It was a nice and quiet area and Molly was really happy to explore some place new.
We came across a couple with their German Shepherd and from a distance I already wasn't sure if he was friendly.
He stared at Molly and crouched a little bit, but sometimes dogs do this and don't mean harm. I have been told that you have to look at the direction their going: if they go straight at the dog it means trouble, if they make a slight bend it is okay. I couldn't really tell, but at that point Molly gave an "uncomfortable" growl/whine. They were getting pretty close and there was no time to turn around or any other direction to go. It all happened really quickly. 
I stepped in front of Molly,  the German Shepherd suddenly leapt forward, and Molly dashed behind me. This didn't stop the dog at all. He went round me and was on top of Molly in the blink of an eye. And then my instinct took over and before I knew it I was holding the German Shepherd by the scruff of the neck. By this time the owner was at my side, I let go of the dog and we each went our way, without a word. No harm done: Molly was fine, no wounds, she went back to normal sniffing about in seconds.

Now, I would never in my right mind grab a dog I don't know, especially a big dog. Or so I thought. Potentially dangerous. There was no thinking, I couldn't have stopped myself. I don't even remember walking over to the dogs (I guess Molly tried to get away, so they were a bit further behind me). Just the act of grabbing. BF said I was lucky nothing happened to me. I sort of agree, but I wonder if I would've done the same if it was a "real" attack where another dog wants to kill mine. I think I would have kicked the dog off instead. But I guess, and hope, we'll never know. (Plus I think I wouldn't even have minded being bitten in that moment, or would have felt a thing until after)
Anyway, I had such a rush of adrenaline that I just moved on without speaking to the owners. I wasn't mad at them, I was in survival mode I guess. I remember wanting to say "no harm done", but I couldn't think of the Dutch words :) silly. Has anyone ever have something similar happen?

I also wondered about what exactly happened between our dogs. Was the dog "protecting" his owners? It was quite a narrow path. Was it because Molly was anxious/unsure that triggered it or made it worse? Molly is unsure about boisterous "in your face dogs", but still wants to go up to them and meet them. It is something we have been working on (Edit: as in staying with me and not going up to them or moving on when there is no way to avoid them and trying to meet polite dogs instead). So I can imagine she could have made things worse by not being submissive or staring back or something.
I feel this could have been prevented by the owners calling their dog off or if we could have moved out of the way. I don't think this was a problem dog. The owners clearly didn't see what was about to happen. Still strange they didn't do anything to help. Or maybe they believe that the dogs will figure it out among themselves? (Would they have?)

This morning I read the article "He just wants to say hi" by Suzanne Clothier and I am so glad I did. It confirmed some things I already thought, but also made me see the events of today in a clearer light: namely that this wasn't necessarily a vicious attack, because the German Shepherd could have done some serious damage if he wanted to.
I found the article on these boards, I think it was @GentleLake who posted it. So thank you. It helped me a lot today and I learned a lot from it. 

I included the link for anyone who would like to read it.

https://suzanneclothier.com/article/just-wants-say-hi/ 

 

Edited by Flora & Molly
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Terrierman has a rather well thought out post on his site concerning breaking up dog fights with minimum risk; https://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2011/08/knowing-what-not-to-do-in-dog-fight.html

Grabbing the offending dog by the scruff of the neck by the way is one of the things not to do in a dogfight according to this article ;) ( your situation though scary enough probably wasn't a fullblown dogfight) .

Glad you and your dog were okay.

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7 hours ago, Smalahundur said:

Terrierman has a rather well thought out post on his site concerning breaking up dog fights with minimum risk; https://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2011/08/knowing-what-not-to-do-in-dog-fight.html

Grabbing the offending dog by the scruff of the neck by the way is one of the things not to do in a dogfight according to this article ;) ( your situation though scary enough probably wasn't a fullblown dogfight) .

Yep, Leerburg says to grab by the hind legs as well. 

I recently had to break up a fight between two hormonal females at my boss's place, and neither was about to let go. I finally grabbed a leash, caught the rear leg of one dog in the loop and tied her to a fence, then grabbed the other dog by the hind legs and pulled them apart-when they went to regrip, as I was pulling against them, they came apart. I was afraid of the dog I was holding turning on me, even with me holding her hind legs, but it turned out okay. I quickly got her put in the garage just as the tied one chewed that leash and came looking for her enemy. 

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Thank you for the article :) it was interesting to read. It is good to know what to do in case it really escalates, especially now I know that I will intervene. (Although I didn't have time to think this time- might be the same next time...)


And you are right: it wasn't a full blown fight. My dog didn't attack back. And lucky for me the German Shepherd stopped as soon as I lifted him off my dog. Still, indeed scary enough to want to avoid it in future.

I went to the park today and met some nice and friendly dogs. My faith in good dogs has been restored^_^. And I was glad to see Molly was not scared off of dogs by what happened. She barked at the first dog we encountered but switched pretty quickly to being open and friendly after I reassured her it was okay. 

 

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Hi,

I had a similar experience yesterday evening although the dogs never came together. I was out walking my 5 month old along a pathway. As I came around a bend I could see two people with dogs around 50 metres away. I stopped as their dogs were off leash and I don't know them. As soon as they spotted me ( the owners not the dogs ) they started to franticly recall their dogs ( German Shepherds). It took what looked like a great deal of effort to get hold of the dogs.

I slowly approached as they held the dogs several feet off the path. As we drew level the dogs started to bark and growl and nash towards my pup. The owners struggled to contain their dogs.

Anyway we passed by without incident but it really made me wonder what would have happened if the dogs had seen me before the owners did? How would I have handled 2 large dogs trying to get at my pup? Did they get aggressive because they were restrained? I suspect that they are aggressive from their owners race to grab them which begs the question why are they off leash in public to start with.

Glad to hear all came out good for you.

Brian

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On 9/29/2018 at 1:03 PM, Smalahundur said:

Terrierman has a rather well thought out post on his site concerning breaking up dog fights with minimum risk; https://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2011/08/knowing-what-not-to-do-in-dog-fight.html

Grabbing the offending dog by the scruff of the neck by the way is one of the things not to do in a dogfight according to this article ;) ( your situation though scary enough probably wasn't a fullblown dogfight) .

Glad you and your dog were okay.

Terrierman is, of course, experienced with the wee ones and, no doubt, his advice is good for them. Trying to scruff one dog (and now I am thinking BC/German Shepard size) exposes you to a nasty bite from the other dog. Putting your hands near furious teeth is very risky, but when you -- quite literally -- have a dog in the fight, instinct takes over. In such a case, the best tactic is to scruff both dogs simultaneously.  This is, admittedly, a risk maneuver, but done with sufficient speed and force, allows you to separate the dogs. Again, I don't advise doing this if you can possibly avoid it, but when desperation hits the limit and adrenaline surges, it is safer than trying to grab one dog.

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You obviously haven't read the actual article; it strongly advises against grabbing the scruff. The described method of intervention is  also (or even especially) effective on big strong dogs, even if the intervening human is relatively weak.

Nb. You propose to grab two fighting big dogs simultaneously by the scruff? I would like to see you accomplish that feat, if it weren't for the fact I don't wish you any harm...No man, that is not "the best tactic" at all.

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5 hours ago, Smalahundur said:

You obviously haven't read the actual article; it strongly advises against grabbing the scruff. The described method of intervention is  also (or even especially) effective on big strong dogs, even if the intervening human is relatively weak.

Nb. You propose to grab two fighting big dogs simultaneously by the scruff? I would like to see you accomplish that feat, if it weren't for the fact I don't wish you any harm...No man, that is not "the best tactic" at all.

Yes, simultaneously -- grabbing only one will most certainly end badly. Yes, I have read the article, and yes I have done this more than once. It is quite certainly a risky maneuver and not something to be done except as a last resort.

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I'm not disputing Terrierman's advice on how to break up a dog fight.  But I do want to add an important caveat.  If you grab a dog by the base of the tail or hind legs and pull you can separate fighting dogs, provided the ungrabbed dog doesn't pursue.  But you also have to make sure in your elevated adrenaline state that you don't pull too hard and actually lift the dog off the ground.  Because once the dog is suspended in midair he can whip around and deliver an amazingly painful bite.  Ask me how I know this.   Terrierman describes swinging the dog in an arc, with the feet scrambling along the ground.  Feet on the ground wheel barrowing the dog is a really important component of this technique.   And it's not as easy as it sounds to simultaneous be pulling a dog away, swinging it in an arc, and not lifting feet off the ground.  Not impossible, and it probably gets easier with practice.  But as the saying goes, nothing is fool proof, because fools are so ingenious.  Voice of foolish experience here.

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