Monday, May 20, 2013

Not There Yet, but Learning

We had an incident this weekend.  Luckily, everyone is relatively okay.

As we wrote about earlier, we are getting back to work - attending training classes, going on daily walks, and socializing more.  We finally had a chance to go to social hour on Saturday.  Tess was in the rink while Ed was outside, on-lead.


Ed was doing great -- he stayed focus when a small-fluffy came through on his way to a groom and when an amped boxer made her way to join social.


Halfway through, a super friendly black lab came in with his owner.  As Sam was trying to keep Ed's attention, the lab came running up on Ed and a small scuffle ensued.  No one was hurt, but it made us assess the situation and see several missteps by all parties:


  • I had been giving Sam a head's up when I saw a dog coming to the door.  I was checking my phone for the time, and missed this one coming in.  By the time I noticed, Sam had already seen them.
  • Sam was trying to keep Ed's attention with a treat, but this meant he didn't have a firm grip on his leash (as you may already know, Sam only has one hand; this makes it difficult to treat and restrain simultaneously).
  • The lab's owner, knowing her dog was friendly, allowed Grace her full leash length to run up on Ed.
  • With a loose-leash himself, Ed got close to the dog, but didn't go into gremlin-mode until Sam grabbed him to pull him back -- Sam accidentally got scruff when grabbing for his collar, which we think might have scared Ed, making him react to the lab.


While Edison did have a hold of Grace, luckily he didn't injure her at all.  Unfortunately, because Ed was so buckled down, Sam had to grab hold tight on his leash, which pulled all the skin off his middle finger.  Yuck.


This incident cannot be attributed to one action or inaction, but instead to the culmination of the factors above.  So we've learned a few lessons and are going to be sure to do things differently to avoid this situation or possibly worse in the future:

  • We're going to get Edison a vest saying something along the lines of "Please, give me space."  When Tess is wearing her therapy dog vest, people always think twice and make sure she's okay to pet (and not a service dog).
  • We're going to have a hands-free leash holder made for Sam's wrist.  It's hard to explain, but basically it will allow Sam to "keep hold" of Ed's leash when he can't actually hold it.
  • We're going to be more assertive when people approach us, even at a distance; we've noticed that we've been compensating for others' mismanagement.  Jessica from Notes from a Dog Walker wrote a great post about this here.

And keeping with our lists, there are a few things we are extremely grateful for:
  • That we have an environment such as Mud Puppies that allows us to socialize Ed, knowing that he has issues and for all the help the owner, Kim, has been in getting Ed to where he is.
  • That we're a part of a great dog community, in Erie and online,  that not only understands our difficulties but also provides us with unique insights.
  • That the owner of the lab was super gracious about the incident and recognized that these things can happen and it's everyone's responsibility to try to mitigate these risks.

We've learned that it all comes down to management and knowing our dogs' limitations.  Although, we were discouraged, we're going to double our efforts with Edison to make him a more social pooch.

How to do manage your dog's limitations?

16 comments:

  1. Whew, I'm glad that things worked out relavively well and it sounds like you have a great plan in place. I think the vest is a super idea. Not everyone knows what the yellow ribbon means, but hopefully the vest will be effective.
    I try to watch Ray for signs in an impending meltdown. Usually it is when he is hot, thirsty or tired (like any other youngster)then he tries to grab his leash and play tug. Sometimes it exhibits in mouthing and teeth bearing. (Wow, I hated to admit that.) We are in private training now to try to modify the way he deals with stress.
    Don't forget, we're all in this together, which is why I love this online community of ours.

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    1. We looked into getting a vest when we first started working with Ed, but we didn't find anything we liked and he was really making HUGE strides. But this incident just goes to show he still has a long way.

      Thanks so much for the support -- it was a great feeling knowing that I could write this post and get so much positive and constructive feedback!

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  2. I am glad things weren't worse than they were. But when you're in a situation like that, I know it feels miserable! Nola is pretty easy going, but I know certain bigger dogs and puppies make her uncomfortable, so we try to avoid them. With Sargent, our foster, he got neutered at the age of 13, so he has a tendency do try to dominate and hump other dogs. We take the precaution of a long line at all times, and limiting interactions with dogs we don't know. He is actually very submissive in the end, but other dogs do not appreciate a hump from a strange and growl and lash out at him.

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    1. Yikes! And when one dogs reacts, you never know what the other will do when put into that type of situation. Poor Sarge - he has no idea that it's inapproriate! Good thing he has some great guidance!!

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  3. It's not a good feeling to have something like this happen. I'm really glad that no one was hurt too bad, that finger does look painful though.

    We have to keep an eye on Dottie for "issues coming up" because she is so nervous. Bigger dogs scare her because she was attacked once on a walk and little dogs freak her out too. So we just have to watch her and make sure she feels comfortable and if not, we get her out of there.

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    1. Not at all -- but I was so relieved that no one was seriously hurt, that I couldn't really be shaken up by it (is that weird?). Instead we immediately thought of all the factors and what WE could have done differently...the external factors were our second focus!

      It's good that Dottie gives you clues as to when she is nervous. Unfortunately, Ed is pretty much an ON/OFF switch - he flips so quickly we barely have time to look for signs! But we've gotten pretty in-tune to what makes the switch flip, and we just pre-emptively avoid those situations.

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  4. I'm glad everything worked out okay. I know when Kaya was having incidents at the dog park, it always escalated when either the other owner or myself grabbed the dog's collar, but it's also our first instinct! I think your ideas are great. It's too bad people don't think twice when letting their dog rush up to another one they don't know. I always make Kaya & Norman steer clear of dogs on leash even when we're at an off leash spot.

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    1. We've never had an issue with grabbing him when he and Tess have gotten too rowdy, so it never even crossed our minds as being a trigger. I wonder what the best way to pull a dog away from another is? Having a reactive dog (and even though Tess is pretty tolerant now, she used to hate rude dogs), we are sure to give EVERYONE extra space! Wish everyone would do the same!

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  5. Ouch! It's good to know that there weren't any really serious injuries, although it sounds like Sam experienced some major pain. I've seen hands-free dog leashes with a clasp on each end that you can loop around your waist. Would something like that work?

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    1. Yes, I never though of that, but I think we'll definitely be looking into it!

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  6. I hated reading this, but I love that you are a responsible pet parent and have acknowledged where you can improve to avoid future incidents! We have all been there, so know you are not alone. Give hugs to the pooches...

    BTW ~ we have a hands free dog leash that I wear around my waist and they are great. Mine has a quick release clasp on the side and also a ring for your keys. With the quick release clasp you can quickly convert to a regular leash if needed.

    Best of luck

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    1. We hated writing it, but we figured it'd be best to get some feedback from the blog world!! Thanks for the hugs -- I'll be sure to pass them along!

      What brand is it? That is a great idea!

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  7. Such an overwhelming moment, I'm glad everyone is 'generally' ok! I cringe thinking of how much that finger hurts!

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  8. That musta hurt! I hope Sam gets better soon. And I agree both sides made mistakes.

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  9. How did I miss this post?!

    Ugh. I completely know how you must be feelings. We have to deal with Turk's aggression towards other dogs whenever we are on walks. It is crazy how many people will say "is your dog friendly?" and let their dog get in your dog's face before you get a chance to answer. That's why I am so thankful for our pack walks when I don't have to worry about ignorant owners. I think getting a vest is a smart idea.

    I'm glad that the scuffle was not serious... because then you have a whole other list of problems to deal with. :(

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    1. Right?! I don't know if its better or worse when they ask but don't wait.

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