Sunday, June 27, 2010

Princess ... le sigh

Princess was bad. If you may remember, shortly after we adopted Princess in the fall, she was startled by a boy on a bike. This time, she was excited by a neighbour. We don't let her off-leash, but we'll make exceptions when we're coming in from the car. (When we get home from a car-ride, especially when we have food, she's thrilled to follow us in the house.) I was carrying in her dog food and some human food, and she was trotting behind me.

Well, she was distracted by a rabbit and she charged away. I ran after her. She lost the rabbit and stopped running. As I got close to her, she noticed there was a dog being walked by the house. Princess was about 20 feet from the dog and his owner, and the neighbour was excitingly yelling at my dog to "go home". As the neighbour kept repeating this phrase, the voice got louder, higher pitched, and more excited. Not all people know this, but dogs respond to human's emotional responses, so a loud, excited voice creates an excited dog. Princess stood about 20 feet away watching the neighbour and other dog for a good 10 seconds (several minutes in dog time), as I ran closer. As I got closer, the neighbour's voice was extremely excited, and my dog ran after the neighbour's dog.

If it wasn't so upseting, it would be quite funny. The scene was out of a sit-com, except there was nothing funny about it for either of us. The neighbour and I ran around each other in a circle, as the two dogs ran around each other in a circle. The neighbour kept yelling comments about how could I be such a bad person and have such a bad dog. (Seriously.) Her voice was, understandably, excited, which fed both of the dog's excitement. I was yelling at Princess to "stop" in my firm, listen-to-me voice. (Stop is a command she knows. Well, she knows the command when she's calm, but an excited dog sometimes has selective hearing.) It felt like every time I got close to catching my dog, the neighbour stepped in front of me (to protect the other dog), causing Princess to change direction, and therefore preventing me from getting to Princess. The neighbour and I continued to run around circling each other (as the neighbour continued to repeatedly yell about how I was such a bad person and I yelled at Princess to "stop") for a good 30 seconds. (Hours in dog time.)

As the neighbour was walking away, I was subduing Princess to teach her that was bad. I apologized. The neighbour ignored me and kept walking away. Several seconds later, the neighbour looked back, then gave me a funny look, a very "taken aback" look. I don't know if the neighbour was surprised that I apologized or surprised I remembered the neighbour's name. (We've only met once. Perhaps the neighbour didn't remember we'd met. Or maybe I remembered the name wrong? But I don't think so, I'm pretty sure I remembered it correctly.)

This dog bit Princess. I think Princess may haved nipped the dog. (Princess doesn't bite, but rather nips, meaning the skin is not broken and therefore no diseases can be transmitted.) Princess's shots were all updated three weeks ago, so I won't go ask her if the other dog's shots are up-to-date. (I don't think I'd have the nerve. In fact, I'm currently holed up in my house, almost hiding, because I'm so upset.) The neighbour has every right to be upset, too. An off-leash dog ran at her dog, followed by a crazy owner who was only yelling "stop".

My heart has been thumping out of my chest the past hour, since it happened. I'm starting to calm down. I think I need a bath and some peppermint tea now.


Not exactly what I want to deal with. Pretty soon, the neighbours are going to start hating us. (Maybe I'm being melodramatic.)


  1. And btw, we have been training Princess. We can't take her to group lessons because she has such a fear response. There are only so many dog trainers in the area, and there are only two that offer one-on-one training. I've contacted both, and both are too busy. So I've been visiting a dog trainer (at Petcetera) reguarly and getting advice on how I can train commands. This trainer will spend up to 30 minutes with us every time we go in!

    Princes knows: sit, down, come, off, no, leave-it, take-it, and stop with very good accuracy. She knows: stay, watch-me, and roll-over with okay accuracy. But the trainer said that some shepherds are so focussed on other animals that if they are excited or interested in another animal, they sometimes won't hear commands.

    Anyway, we'll keep working.

  2. Ugh. I'm sorry. I've definitely been there before. People are usually entirely too good at making the situation worse. I'm afraid I don't have any advice. I just always made sure we were diligent about not having loose dogs. It's a pain but they settled down after awhile.

    Maybe work your way up to doing on-lead "leave its" and "watch mes" in the front yard? Eventually while other people are out and about with their dogs to desensitize her? I don't know.

    I remember once we were walking down the middle of the road and this little black dog comes trotting up to us. It's owner was in the yard and didn't make any attempt to reclaim it or call it back. My dogs sniffed and were fine, we were about to move on when the little dog started talking smack and picking a fight. Bones retaliated but I was able to break it up quickly. Of course, as soon and that was taken care of Rusty was in range and since nobody messes with his "little brother" he picked the little dog up and shook it. Rusty dropped it and it ran back to it's yard, completely unhurt but it was NOT fun. Of course, the owner had no idea that his dog started it and just stood there in shock. He went inside and I went straight home expecting to get yelled at the entire time. I never walked down that street again. Ugh.
    Good luck. It sounds like you're doing the right things. Hopefully she'll settle in soon.

  3. So sorry to hear about that. Not that this mitigates Princess's behavior... but things like this happen to all dog owners!! I can't believe it's never happened to your neighbor.

    Usually, when this has happened to me, I will reach down and just scoop up my dog (or dogs - I've scooped up 2 at once!) to try and "break up" the situation (if there is one). Of course, not if there is teeth bared. But usually, the dogs just sniff at each other and the owners can calm them down.

    Don't be so hard on yourself. It sounds like you did everything you could. But I would take a picture of the other dog's bite - just in case. Just in case she comes back to you about anything. Or in case it gets infected. Just in case - take a picture.

    Hope you're all calmed down now and feeling better!