When I was a child, I was attacked by my best friend’s two Doberman Pinschers. Well, I wouldn’t say “attacked”; it was more like exuberantly greeted. I was 10 years old and went over to her house and knocked on the door. Her younger sister made it before her parents did and as the door was opened, I was bowled over by two thundering, raucous, dogs. In a millisecond, I was flat on my back, pinned down by these big boys and had no time to even think about what just happened. I do know that I wasn’t afraid. I should have been. I should have been scared witless. But I wasn’t. Instead, I was lying there looking into the business end of these magnificent white teeth and slobbery tongues with curiosity. I had never seen a dog from this angle before. I should have known then that dogs would be my future.
I had always wanted a dog when I was growing up. My mom did not. She was terrified of dogs. She had been attacked when she was a child and she never was able to overcome that fear. No matter how cute the puppy I saw in the pet store window, or the stray that I inevitably brought home (and there were many dogs, cats, birds, rodents and anything else that moved, really), there was nothing that would sway my mom’s “No dog” position. I was the complete opposite of her. If something scared me, my curiosity got the better of me and I would tackle getting to know about it with passion and fervor. I wanted to experience everything, including the love and companionship of dogs and all other animals.
When I moved away from home, my number one item on my “to-do” list was getting a dog. So I did. Jessie was the best dog. Ever. I am pretty sure I am not the only dog owner to say that about their dog. I loved her fiercely and cherished what she gave back. As dog lovers, we look at people strangely when they don’t share the same love and affection for our dogs or when they react out of fear for no reason other than they are scared of dogs. Sadly, not all people in this world know about the perfect love of a dog and I feel they truly are missing out on something amazing. I cannot imagine life without my dogs.
What I do know is when a dog is scared or uncertain, he will react out of that fear, and that does include the possibility of biting. Our responsibility is to learn dog language so we know what they are communicating to us. Our choice in how a scenario ends, is how we respond to the communication we are receiving. Not all situations are the same so there is no cut and dry answer when confronted by a dog that seems aggressive but educating yourself about their behaviour can help in determining the outcome of a situation that could otherwise end badly.
Check out the Related Links in the column to the right that might be helpful in learning more about fear and aggression in dogs. I hope this helps and please share this with anyone you know who is a little skittish around our canine companions. Understanding and education go a long way when confronting things that scare us. It brings a confidence and calm that can help us when the situation arises.