You and I both. I’ll share an experience that happened today, and I may ramble slightly. For that I do apologize.
Today, my son, a friend of mine, myself, and our dog Butch, were at the pet store. He’s only 7 and half months, and the pet store is one of his favorite places to visit. Not only that, but it’s a wonderful oppurtunity for socialization, he is introduced to different dogs, people, surroundings, distractions etc. He always does wonderful. He’s also in puppy training classes, along with our frequent outtings. Well, today our pet store visit was a little different, we had a run in with a rather large, aggressive dog. The dog’s owner, did not seem concerned with their animals behaviors; raised fur, pinned back ears, growling, dominant tail, stiff body, and exposed teeth. All of which he was doing towards my dog, Butch; who did not react, even when the dog lunged at him. Nonetheless, I had a tight grip on Butch’s collar, he was sitting and staying at my side. Still, I didn’t want my dog to reach to this other dog’s obvious challenge, as I went to remove my dog and myself away from this situation a sales woman and a trainer approached the other dog owner. They did their best to explain that the dog was exhibiting aggressive behaviors, and that these behaviors should be addressed, and not taken lightly; explaining that many dogs will react when challenged, and a dog fight could occur. The other dog owner of course brushed it off, but still replied that her dog is ‘unconrollable.’ I’m sorry, but if an owner feels their dog is uncontrollable and they cannot control their dog, the dog should not be in the pet store, and I would assume a responsible pet owner would take their dog to a trainer that specializes in such behaviors. If that was my dog, I would want to correct the behaviors, I’d want to understand what is triggering this behavior, fear, dominance, etc.This owner didn’t seem to care, and that alone was frustrating. I’m sure I was not the only one frustrated. This dog was also reacting in similar ways to a few other animals.
After the first occurance, we stayed clear of that other dog. Butch and I practiced heeling, sit, down, stay, etc. I thought it was a perfect oppurtunity with all of the distractions around him. He was doing great, and as we went to pay for a few things and we made our way to the check out line, that aggressive dog was again directly next to us, in the aisle on the opposite side. I again had Butch sit at my side, while gripping his collar, staying calm, while we waited for the other dog to pass. I was amazed that the dog’s owner still did not react. Again, the other dog was displaying the same body language, along with the exposed teeth and growling, the dog was also barking. This behavior was not only aimed towards other dogs, but I also made note that the dog was doing this to smaller children in the pet store. That was even more alarming to me, not only did I have my son with me, but there were more than a handful of kids in the store. It was scary to think that this owner had no desire to correct the behavior, or better yet, remove themselves from the pet store.Still, Butch, did not react to the other dog.
In the process of this situation there were two women, they couldn’t have been any older than what I am, had passed by us. Each woman felt the need to point at my dog. My dog was obviously well behaved and obedient, they expressed their feelings on how vicious my dog is, that he was ‘scary’ and had no buisness being in the pet store. They could not believe that I had enough guts, balls, and courage to bring my Pit Bull around other dogs and children. Urgh. My dog has the same right to be there, as any other dog does. I wonder what they would have thought if they knew that my SBT is a 5 year old’s best friend, and even minds him to a T? Needless to say, they rambled off a bunch of uneducated ‘so called Pit Bull information.’ They heard it from the media, so it must be fact, right? At least that’s what i was able to gather before they trailed off. Whatever.
Ultimately, they choose not to pay any attention to the other dog that was misbehaving and showing aggressive signs, along with ignoring the irresponsible pet owner that was allowing their dogs behavior to continue. To them, my dog is a Pit Bull breed dog and he must have somehow instigated the other dog. He must have created some sort of problem. Yet, he didn’t. He continued to be on his best behavor the entire time. His crime in the eyes of these women was false. My dog wagged his tail at the people that passed by & the ones that stopped to pet him, he sniffed and kissed their hands, he didn’t jump, he didn’t growl, he didn’t bite, he didn’t react negatively to any of the other dogs in the pet store, instead when I asked another owner if they would mind a dog introduction, (and explained I was working on socialization with my puppy) the dogs meeted and greeted; their owners were happy to take part in it.
I’m always careful with introductions with other dogs and I pay close attention to Butch’s body language. I do know that any dog can display aggression towards other animals, and that isn’t uncommon in Pits. My dog is also a male, which again, isn’t an uncommon behavior. Socialization is important for many reasons, I know I cannot stop animal aggression if it EVER occurs, but I can appropriately take the correct steps to understand what to look for and what situations to avoid with my dog. All of this is done by watching his body language, that’s the way our animals communicate with us. It’s our job as owners to be responsible for our animals, to keep them safe, and avoid situations that they are not comfortable with. Butch has not shown any aggressive signs, he does not try to dominate, I won’t say he never has, because I’d be lying. He’s a male dog, although he’s still a puppy. That behavior had occured in his own home when I first got him. My female German corrected the behavior, and began teaching him appropriate behavior. At the time he was only about 4 months old. They are always surpervised, and I do not believe dogs should ‘hash’ it out. I do step in, so to speak, and I use dog language that Butch understands. If one or the other is irritated, they are both returned to their crates to relax. But more so, I do believe that Butch didn’t know how to correctly interact with other dogs before I got him. This was something he had to learn. Butch was taken from his litter much earlier than what he should have been, at the time, he didn’t possess the same mannerisms as other puppies. The dominance issue has since been corrected, and I know that is something I need to watch out for, and I do. But that isn’t any different than any other breed of dog.
I had taken Butch into our home, and recieved him from an older man whose apartment complex would not allow him to keep Butch. I was unaware of his history until a bit later. Thus, our loving family pet. =] Anyway, the whole occurance got underneath of my skin. I wanted to approach the two women, I wanted to educate them on their false view point of these wonderful dogs; instead of approaching them, I went on my marry way, with my son, my dog, and my friend. I felt that an example would be much more appropriate than listening to these people bash my dog, simply because of his breed. So, Butch heeled and sat politely when we got to the counter to pay for our items. When we then headed out of the pet store, I couldn’t help but wonder why some people prefer to stay so ignorant. But, I was hopeful that they saw how pleasant my dog was, and just maybe, they would feel like idiots.