Coping With a Reactive Dog and His Non-Reactive Person

When you know a neighborhood dog is reactive, you make allowances for his behavior. But what if his person isn’t reactive enough?

The Un-Neighborly Dog

Snarling dog, Wallenstein Garden, Prague by Bogdan Migulski on Flickr.com

This dog is not Yaakov but he plays him in my blog.

If you’ve been reading Something Wagging for a while, you know I’m enchanted with dogs and the bonds we form with them.

I even love the dogs I don’t like.

But there’s a dog in my neighborhood who gives me a bad feeling every time I see him. Let’s call him *Yaakov.

Meeting Yaakov in the neighborhood

When I moved into my neighborhood about 10 years ago, we struck up a conversation with a neighbor while walking Agatha and Christie. The neighbor, let’s call her **Karla, said she had a dog too and asked if we would we like to meet him.

After ten years living in a Philadelphia neighborhood where dogs were more often seen as protection than pets, we were happy to meet her dog.

As Karla went inside to get Yaakov, we made Agatha and Christie sit in preparation for a controlled greeting.

Boy, were we surprised when a blur of fur charged out the door without a leash or collar right at Agatha and Christie. To give our dogs room to respond and maneuver, we dropped our leashes just to have the snarling mass of three dogs head out into the street. I stopped traffic while my husband and Karla corralled the dogs.

After asking Karla what she was thinking by having Yaakov charge out of the house, she explained that he got away from her while she was trying to leash him up.

We decided to chalk it up to a bad experience and move on.

The song remains the same

Over the years, despite trying to avoid Yaakov and Karla on walks, we would frequently find Yaakov off leash. At our approach he would launch at Agatha and Christie with bad intent.

At one point, I wrote a note to Karla and left a reference to a dog training book in her door suggesting she had some work to do with Yaakov.

I really lost it when I was walking Agatha shortly after Christie’s passing. I saw Yaakov off leash with Karla a few steps behind us. I immediately went to cross the street when Yaakov took off after us with Karla yelling, “Yaakov, come here.”

Of course, Yaakov only had eyes for Agatha and Karla had to physically pull him away.

Not normally a yeller, I shouted, “What are you playing at? Why do you have your dog off leash when it’s obvious he can’t handle it?”

With real distress in her voice, Karla replied, “But he’s doing so good. He stays with me all the time.”

When I got home I spoke to a nice animal control officer at the Tompkins County SPCA. She was committed to education that would keep dogs and other animals safe. The office called me after she spoke to Karla and assured me that Karla understood and would not walk Yaakov off leash again.

He’s baaaaaack

Honey the Golden Retriever plays bitey face

I'm practicing my best bitey face in case Yaakov ever tries to come into my yard again.

For several years I only saw Yaakov off leash with Karla at a distance–near the marina when I was without my dog and occasionally getting into the car with her.

The only other time we encountered Yaakov was when he would charge the fence or windows as we walked by. I just got into the habit of avoiding that side of the block.

But lately Karla has been doing some renovation work at the neighbor’s house and Yaakov has accompanied her.

I live in town so the neighbor’s house is close. And the renovators were working in my backyard to get access to the garage they were repairing.

Imagine my surprise when I took Honey outside for a break to see Yaakov sneaking around the corner on his long lead and sticking his face through my gate to start snarling and barking at Honey.

Is it just me? Or is it unreasonable to think your dog should not have to be afraid in her own yard?

And the past couple days, Yaakov has been sitting off leash in front of the house while Karla works. And, of course, every dog that walks by drives Yaakov to go barking and snarling after him with Karla shouting, “Yaakov, don’t make me come over there to get you. Come back here right now!”

As I write this, I hear Yaakov going after another dog with Karla yelling behind him.

Praising the reactions of people with reactive dogs

I know how hard it is to have a reactive dog.

I remember walking Shadow at 5 a.m. to limit scary encounters with other dogs. And I know what it’s like to get distracted or misjudge a situation and have your dog go insane on the end of a leash barking and pulling.

When I witness someone who’s unable to manage their reactive dog, I try to be patient. I’ve been there myself and know that no one can do everything perfectly all the time.

But I’m astounded at Karla’s denial of Yaakov’s weaknesses. The last two times I left the house, he was sitting on the porch of the house next door with his leash dangling loose.

So to everyone who has a reactive dog and is constantly reacting appropriately to him, thank you. Thank you for managing every situation to keep it from becoming a SITUATION. You are my heroes.

I don’t think anything will get through to Karla. Someday Yaakov will cross the bridge and dogs will walk safely in our neighborhood again.

And on that day, I hope Karla decides to get a gerbil.

Have you had a similar problem with an obviously loving dog person who is totally deluded? What did you do? What do you wish you could do? Please share!

 

*A variant of the dog’s name used to protect the innocent. I hereby apologize to any perfectly nice dogs named Yaakov.

**Also a variant, I just can’t bring myself to write about a real person without her permission.

[Photo by Bogdan Migulski.]

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Comments

  1. It is sad indeed to think some will not be responsible for their pets.

  2. Maybe you should try carrying a small spray bottle of water when you go on walks and give Yaakov a spritz every time he comes after your dog. I have been using this tactic on my three y/o puggle when he attacks my 8 month old pittie. Things have calmed down quite a bit since I started doing this.

    • Not what I’d recommend, please find a well-educated professional to help you. Water in the face doesn’t solve problems and I’ve seen some pretty nasty things come of this tactic.

    • I think Yaakov is already pretty aroused. I’m not planning on doing anything with him at all. I’m not sure of the results with such an unpredictable dog.

  3. That sounds like a difficult and frustrating situation! Especially because you’ve already tried to educated her (and AC has already tried to educate her) and nothing has change. Oh, that would make my blood boil! I unfortunately have no constructive advice :(

    • The crazy thing is that she started bringing her dog to work with her because one of her bosses has a very calm pibble that he brings with him. “Homer” (not his real name) is able to sit calmly off leash in a public area without any negative interaction at all.

      I wish Karla could recognize that her dog is not behaving the same way at Homer.

  4. Personally I can’t understand ‘Karla’! I doubt she will ever change and yes, I hope her next pet is a gerbil. Maybe a few shots of pepper spray would convince the dog that you and Honey are to be stayed away from? I’ve never used it so I honestly don’t know what the result is likely to be if he did get sprayed. Honey certainly should feel safe in her own yard and I’d be very tempted to get a hose onto him or the pepper spray if he keeps poking his face through the gate.

    I feel sorry for the poor dog, what must his state of mind be like?

    • I’m not in a hurry to buy pepper spray. When I attended a dog play group at the SPCA, they used an air horn or citronella spray to break up kerfuffles. But I know the air horn would frighten the heck out of Honey and I don’t trust Yaakov’s sense of mind enough to try to do anything with him.

      And you’re right, Yaakov is the one who is anxious and suffering here.

  5. I am often amazed at the denial some pet owners have about their dogs. In this case, Karla and Yakov are not only a nuisance, but a danger to the other dogs in the neighborhood. I get it. A reactive dog can be frustrating. It can be difficult, but Karla is asking for trouble.
    I think you started on the right track by trying to educate her Pamela, but perhaps she needs another conversation with the animal control officer and this time he should tell her what happens to dogs that bite another dog or injure them in some way. She is looking for a lawsuit in my book. And, chances are that when or if Yakov does injure another dog, he will have to be put down. What a shame.
    Perhaps Karla needs to read your blog to understand how much her negligence is a problem.

    • Yes, I’m thinking about calling Animal Control again. Karla obviously isn’t learning through her own powers of observation.

      And you’re right, Yaakov will be the one to pay the price.

      • If he’s in your yard, barking and scaring your dog, I think it’s reasonable to call animal control. I would tell her that you’re going to have to first. Not that she’s real likely to correct the situation, but it’s nice to give fair warning if you can. (I wouldn’t suggest being that nice if he had harmed Honey or you.)

  6. How frustrating. I agree – it’s surprising how in denial some people can be about their own dog’s limitations. I hope that one day Karla realizes the error of her ways. Poor Yaakov is the one who will suffer if something bad happens. :(

  7. When we first moved in our current home I had frequent visits from the neighbor’s dog. She came to our fence and acted aggressively toward my dogs. Rumpy, who had NEVER been aggressive toward another dog, would try to fight that dog through the fence. I was afraid to walk the dogs because this dog was apt to be off-leash and roaming the neighborhood at any time of day.

    I tried to talk to the owners, but, like Karla, seemed clueless. So I called Animal Control and reported the neighbors and the dog as aggressive. I also carried pepper spray with me whenever I was in the yard with my dogs, and I never let the dogs go outside without me.

    Fortunately the neighbors soon moved, and we’ve had no other problems with off-leash dogs in this neighborhood. But I still carry the pepper spray with me, just in case.

  8. That dog is not Yaakov, he’s Eisav (Yaakov’s brother). But I can’t blame him. I see this with moms of human kids all the time. People are absolutely blind to the faults of their offspring. And that goes for dog moms too.

    • Oooh, clever. I only picked Yaakov because it was a variant on the dog’s actual name. As you point out, he was actually misnamed to begin with. Maybe he acts up because he can’t live up to his name?

      I laugh at the thought of parents being blind to the faults of their offspring. I was raised in a household where if I had a dispute with a teacher, my parent always assumed the teacher was right. :)

  9. People like your neighbor drive me right around the bend. It seems obvious the neighbor is only interested in what *she* wants and how she wants her dog to be – even when her dog won’t be the dog she wants without training. Magical thinking and selfish behavior like that will get her dog killed. It is likely she will still be moaning “but he always stays right by me.” Yes, we are all guilty of ignorant behavior from time-to- time – we are human – but when that behavior involves the well-being of our animals, it’s time to wake up and do what’s necessary to keep our dogs from inflicting harm or having harm inflicted on them. Maybe you should run off a copy of these responses and slide it under her door;)

  10. As the owner of a reactive dog, this post really irritates me. How can this woman ignore the issues her dog is having? How can she stick her head in the sand and put other dogs and people at risk? There are ways to help these dogs to reduce their stress and avoid the unpleasant end that he’ll come to if he is to injure a dog or person. No one is perfect and Buster has run away from me when he’s been off-leash and another dog surprised us. But I can count on one hand the number of times that’s happened in the 3 1/2 years Buster’s been with us. I wouldn’t put him in a position where it was inevitable that he’d be seeing other dogs when he’s off-leash – I’d only be training him to fail at a recall, and that could end in very badly.

  11. This sounds like one those people that you just want to walk up to and tap on the forehead and ask if anyone is home!. I am wondering what it will take for this lady to see that she is doing nothing but putting her dog and other people’s dogs in harms way.

    • I kinda hope she never learns and that Yaakov passes peacefully from this earth without anything horrible happening to anyone. It’s been 10 years already…

  12. Wow. I’m so sorry you’re having yet another bad experience with this dog! I don’t understand why people expect the best from their dogs when they’re really setting them up to fail over and over again. So frustrating!

    My dog, Ginger, does not like puppies. I knew she wasn’t good with the puppies I fostered, but learned the hard way that she’s not good even with older puppies. Our fosters were with us from 8 wks to 16 wks, but she’s cranky with puppies as old as almost a year. So, when we’re at the dog park, I always call her away from puppies, even if she’s not behaving badly. She gets a quick sniff in, and that’s it. Other people at the park will invariably do one of two things: snatch their puppy up because they’re afraid Ginger will hurt him, or tell me that Ginger is “just playing” when I know darn good and well she’s not. I really don’t have any patience with people who think they know my dog better than I do! And it happens all the time. But I stick to my guns. I don’t think Ginger will hurt a puppy, but there’s no point in letting her scare the little guy to death!

    • Good for you, Sherron. It’s great to hear from someone who really understands her dog and sets up her for success.

      We’re all responsible for giving our dogs and the others they meet the best experience. Well done.

  13. We live next door to a family who is known around our little town as “The Village Idiots.” I wish I were making that up. They used to live down the street from us with their first dog, a Golden mix who went insane living in their house. When we’d walk past, I was always afraid the dog would break a window and come after us. One day, as I was walking Treat and Hawk down the street, she brings the dog out on the porch, where it proceeds to have a complete meltdown and breaks its collar to charge across the street at us. I did my best to put myself between the charging dog and my two and she circles us frantically while Hawk snarls warnings and Treat tries to sniff her. The woman comes across the street and starts apologizing. “I thought if she could just see how nice your dogs are, it would rub off on her?” Seriously?! I was dumbstruck.

    Imagine my horror when they moved in next door and soon had acquired two dogs who drug their children all across the back yard while on leashes. They installed invisible fence, which had no effect whatsoever on the dogs, especially when they didn’t put new batteries in the collars. I could go on and on. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s just not enough brain matter between the ears of anyone who lives over there for anything I say to stick to.

    • Wow, walks must be very exciting in your neighborhood. How do you manage?

      I had a similar experience in the dog park. After a man’s dog got too aggressive with Honey, he told us his dog had problems with resource guarding and he hoped he’d learn better behavior at the dog park. ?!

      Honey also has issues with guarding balls from other dogs. We don’t expect other dogs to teach her not to do it. We step in before she gets too bossy and give her a time out to lessen her arousal.

      And yes, we can’t solve every problem, can we?

      • Sadly, no! The killer for me was when they added a new Siberian puppy for Easter a year and a half ago! WTH?! You can’t control the kids and dogs you’ve got, so you add another one?

  14. I have neighbors exactly like Karla. It’s a darn shame that they don’t work with their dog but I have no suggestions. I carry pepper spray when walking and am prepared to use it.

    Delilah was very leash reactive at one time and we worked really hard to help her get past it, I won’t have all our hard work undone by some irresponsible pet owner.

    • And it is about providing a safe and comfortable experience with Delilah. She’s the dog you’re responsible for.

      I’m a little worried about all the pepper spray suggestions, however. I’m not sure what that would do to an already aroused dog. Be careful.

  15. As the owner of a reactive dog, this type of thing hits close to home. It is sad to think about what may happen to your neighbor’s dog because of her failure to take the necessary steps to keep him and those around him safe. I definitely feel like it is my job to protect Pearl because her reactivity makes her more vulnerable. It always really upsets me when people don’t take responsibility and as a result put others in danger.

    • Thank you, Karen. It is hard to manage a reactive dog but I’m sure Pearl feels well-protected by you because you know her vulnerabilities.

  16. We have many instances, because we live up north, where most homes around are vacation homes. So people bring their dogs and think they can just let them loose. We have had the same encounter with a permanent particular dog that the owners leave loose outside for the last 4 years. When Silver got pregnant the dog started charging us. I wish I knew what to do. We have talked with these neighbors over and over. What did they do, they got a second dog. I have ignored, screamed, yelled, they won’t do anything. I started writing down each encounter, but mostly I’ve ended up avoiding the road.

    The dog has ran out in front of busy school traffic coming after our dog. With the owners running after it. If the close call of their dog getting hit by a car doesn’t make you do something different, what will??

    I agree with Greyhounds CAN sit, what is the poor dogs state of mind?? I don’t understand how Karla can’t see the danger that she is putting herself and Yaakov in. The sad part is that it will be the dog that pays.

    • Sounds like you might need a call to Animal Control. But that’s risky too.

      I only did it because I knew the agency would be most interested in keeping Yaakov safe in his own home. But some agencies would probably just pick the dog up and have him killed.

      I hope your situation doesn’t come to a bad end. Take care of yourself and your dogs.

  17. Unfortunately the dog will be taken and put to sleep if enough complaints are issued to AC. However, maybe it would be a gift to him. He’s clearly miserable living in this world and his human does nothing to help him so honestly, it might be an act of kindness. I had to issue several complaints against a neighbor with vicious dogs that he consistently had off-leash. After several complaints from many neighbors of dogs who had been attacked / some violently, the dog was pts. The owner did get more dogs but fortunately they haven’t been aggressive but he still let’s them loose. It’s amazing how stupid people are. :(

  18. OMG! Good for you for even saying anything to her. I am the type to silently seethe. However, yesterday was different.

    I organize a meetup group for Weiner Dogs. Yesterday we were in our meeing place at the park which is by a running trail. I saw a guy approaching us on a large skateboard with his two Huskies pulling him and thought “how cool.” Seconds later I hear our group erupt with loud and determined, uncontrolled barking (which is not so unusual). I look over and the skateboard guy and at this point he is off the skateboard kind of staring at us in shocked amazement while his dogs are hopping around all willy-nilly recoiling from the assult. Mortified, I stopped what I was doing and rushed over and stood between my group and that guy. The guy was good natured but I apologized. I turned to my group and said “Please, when your dogs all start barking like that try and rein them in and quiet them down. We don’t want to startle any more dogs pulling skateboards and cause and accident.” One of the group memeber quipped back “yeah, good luck”. That really ticked me off. Its like, “C’mon people! Seriously? Your the dog owner…the pack leader supposed to be setting an example. Don’t let your 20 lb dog run you and act like you are helpless.” Quite frankly, that attitude disgust me.

    I shot back, “Yeah, it can be hard but at least some of us try. Step in front of them and the other dogs or otherwise distract them. Pick them up if you have to (not the preferred method but it works.” I felt really snotty for the way I said it but I did notice people making and effort to quiet their dogs down the next time it happened.

    Now don’t get me wrong, those of us with reactive dogs can get caught off guard sometimes. You just do your best to remedy the situation and be more vigilant this time. It’s a process but for gods sake make some kind of effort!

    • Thanks for educating your group. I feel that at least some people with small dogs think their excited reactions aren’t a big deal because they’re small.

      I’m thrilled when I meet someone who respects her small dogs enough to treat them like dogs instead of like playthings.

      And you were a good ambassador to the other dog person in the park. Good for you.

      • Pamela –
        That is what gets me – seeing people let their small dogs react in agressive or “misbehaved” ways that would land a big dog in trouble. I can’t tell how many times I see owners of small dogs just laugh like “isn’t that cute” when their small dog goes nuts on big dogs or people. I DO have to say though that when I watch the reaction of the “offended” they often laugh some too…perpetuating the idea that it is laughable that a small dog is allowed to act that way.

        I LOVE my dogs. They are spoiled. They are my furkids. They are small. BUT they are also DOGS and I expect them to act like a civilized ones. I am their pack leader and they WILL act the way I expect them to or be removed from the situation.

        Unfortunately, we can’t save the world singlehanded :)

  19. Definitely had that experience. Sophie is a leash reactive dog. I do my best to manage the situation, especially in a classroom setting. We took a class one time a few years ago, we walked in and stood to the side so I could give Sophie room. Eventually the class filled up and someone ended up standing next to us. The lady next to us had a yellow lab. All of a sudden both Sophie and the yellow lab were growling and lunging. Given Sophie’s leash reactivity, I thought it was likely her instigating that little altercation. We spread apart to give the dogs more room. The following week. My sister came with me, Sophie was in a down on her right side while she sat in a chair. The yellow lab owner had her dog next to her on my sister’s left. Seemingly out of the blue, the yellow lab flies over my sister’s lap while snapping and growling trying to get at Sophie, who at that point was looking at me and not facing the lab. As the class proceeded, we had more and more situations like that. The dog was obviously reactive. The trainer tried to make the woman understand that her dog couldn’t be allowed to interact with the other dogs or have full use of the 6ft leash. The woman never got it. I had to leave the class after that because it was driving me nuts!!

    I understand being caught off guard, I try hard to stay vigilant but it happens. But this woman was completely oblivious to her dog. Putting other dogs and people (if my sister hadn’t moved back the dog could have easily hurt her as she launched herself) at risk.

  20. “Roxie” is the large female boxer who lives next door. “Roxie” used to bark before she rushed the fence, doing a wide, stiff-legged stance, chest out bumping the fence, hard stare set, upon arriving at the chain-link bounded property line. About two years ago, she started doing the same thing with quiet stealth. She has about scared me and my dogs out of our skin a few times. She is brindle – which is like dog camo in a leaf-littered yard this time of year. I cannot walk out onto my deck or in my own yard with my dogs ON LEAD without her going insane. The few times I have been in their house, the dog is just fine. When she sees me in the yard, it’s the same crazy TAZ dance every time. I know boxers are known for their protectiveness and loyalty to their family. I understand what she sees, she thinks is hers and she must protect. HOWEVER, she gets out of their fence. When my daughter was in college and came home to visit, “Roxie” has gotten out of the yard, run into our driveway and held my daughter hostage in her car. She’d have to call me on her cell, so I could call the neighbors to get the dog. They take this dog into the front yard off leash, across the street to the lake off leash, to the mail box off-leash, run out the door to welcome daddy home off leash. Late one afternoon, I was taking my goldendoodle into the front, on leash, to use the bathroom before a therapy visit when Roxie came bounding out their front door, into their driveway to greet the husband. She looked up, saw us and we literally had to hide behind the shrubs in our yard before the man got her back upstairs. When my husband had our puppy walk on-lead down to the mailbox with him, the boxer was in the yard off lead with the man. My husband saw her just before she started to charge. She was through the split rail fence and into our yard at full charge, when my husband, puppy in hand, barely made it to the porch. At that point, the man called the dog back.
    My husband and I have both tried to talk with this couple and their teenage son. Unbelievably, the son is the most understanding. The dad says the dog is not aggressive, she likes people and other dogs and when she rushes you it’s to say hello. Her body language says everything except friendly. After a very bad storm this summer, trees took out part of their fence. It took 2 months for them to get part of the fence replaced. Part of it is still broken and only about 2 1/2 feet tall. They still let their dog out unsupervised, as they did when there were panels missing.
    They refuse to believe their dog is aggressive, even when they have had to pull her away from my dogs (in my own yard), away from my daughter’s car so she could get out and after she’s run though front yard fencing after my husband and puppy. They are no longer speaking to us and will still let their dog off leash around the neighborhood.
    This is a sad situation for all involved.

  21. That is, indeed, a very frustrating situation. I work with reactive dogs all the time and even have one of my own that is completely rehabilitated. I always stress to the owners that they must take responsibility for their dog’s actions. One thing I’ve learned over the years that may be of help to you, or anyone in a similar situation…

    Whether or not your dog is reactive or you walk in an area with reactive dogs, always carry a pouch full of nice, moist, delicious dog treats. First, you never know when a training opportunity will present itself and second, the treats may prove useful as a distraction for your dog in an unusual situation. Third, and most important, is for the loose dogs that come charging up to you and yours. Dig your hand into your pouch, grab a big handful of treats and chuck them right at the dog as he comes towards you. Then as the dog is distracted eating and searching for the treats, you can safely high-tail it out of there. No fuss, no muss and no punishments that can trigger something worse. It’s safe and easy. It doesn’t always work, every once in a while you will run across a determined little bugger, but it works more often than not. I fear Yaakov may be one of the more determined little buggers, so you may want to try some actual chicken or hamburger in his case. If the food does distract him, then you have the added bonus of it also being an effective way to counter condition Yaakov, should you choose to try. Good luck!
    Helen Del Bove, ABCDT, CPDT-KA

  22. I’m sorry about your neighbor – I know what a frustrating situation it can be. The problem is, irresponsible owners are just that, irresponsible. It seems that I am always returning the same dogs to their homes (“oh, I don’t know how they got out!”) and I end up being the one worrying about THEIR dog!! I definitely worry about off-leash, aggressive dogs – I worry about the dog being charged backing out of their collar to get away from the threat – I love the advice about carrying treats (good luck with that . . . I know Honey would happily run into danger to get them!!!) and I love her bitey face – so scary!! I hope she finishes the job next door soon and goes back to her own side of the block!

  23. desmond is leash reactive, and this is exactly why i will at least cross the street if not turn around and go the other way when we see other dogs on the street. we have a neighbor who lets his crazy, barking dogs stay out in his front yard a lot (they never get walked, EVER), and we live on a dead-end street essentially, so we very often MUST pass this house, and desmond always goes totally insane. it’s extremely frustrating, but i hope one day we’ll get past it.

  24. that would be terrible, having to deal with that situation (i know i’m a bit late in the game, lol, but just had to comment, since i’ve been on both sides of that particular issue). My neighbour has a very dog-aggressive beagle (She is one of the good-at-handling-her-dog’s-aggression people, though unfortunately, has never gotten her dog through his issues with dogs), and, for most of his dog-aggressive-life, i’ve dog-sat him when they go away. Even with such a small dog, it requires a lot of attention to ensure that you aren’t surprised by someoen coming up behind you with their dog. One issue we had with the beagle was that not everyone is willing to believe you when you say, “Stay back, Beagle is very dog aggressive, he is not friendly”. They apparently believed that smaller-sized dogs couldn’t possibly be a threat to their own dog, and in one incident, my sister ended up with Beagle in her arms, on a stranger’s porch, while a man kept approaching her with his exhuberant 6 month old puppy (one way to create another dog just as dog-fearful/aggressive as the Beagle), saying, “no, no, don’t worry, they’ll be fine! dogs will be dogs!”
    On the other hand, with my own dog, I’m religious about asking, “is your dog friendly? can my dog come up and say hello?”, and getting an affirmative to both before approaching other people on the street. And yet, a few times, I’ve found myself dragging Gwynn out of the way of a not-just-play snarl and snap, because “Oh, i meant that Dog is friendly most of the time. It’s probably because your dog is unneutered (but he is) or fluffy, or a boy, or a girl, or because it’s tuesday… not that my dog or myself are the problem in the situation.”
    sorry, long comment, but I wish you luck in managing the neighbourhood terror (don’t suppose your area has leash-law fines?

  25. It is so sad their is no place where we can turn to in cases like this. In then end only Yaakov will pay the price. Karla would just get another dog and everything starts all over again. You already contacted AC, and you also talked to her in person. There is not more you can do.

    We have our own little battle going on with the “Kurts” as you maybe can remember. At first I thought I could get through to them. But I have given up. The only option I have left is to avoid them, as I am worried it will only get Kenzo & Viva into trouble.

    I am left with a little hope after doing some investigation in Holland for my BSL blogs. Here some municipalities now can seize dogs on behavior that is seen as not good citizenship. They start to hold owners accountable if their dog comes into trouble and a mental test vindicates the dog. It will stop people like Karla from having dogs, and made sure Yaakov would be re-homed with a more knowledgeable family.

    Lets hope more will follow that example.

  26. Oh boy. This came up as a recommended link when I was reading your post from today and just had to come see what it was about. Talk about timing. Reading the other responses here, I am stunned to learn the problem is as widespread as it appears to be and, selfishly, thankful to know we are not alone.

    Bella is, as you know, reactive. We take her to classes specifically to help address that reactivity and we work with her constantly. Our goal isn’t all that grand – we just want to be able to take her to the vet without her going ballistic. She doesn’t have to be a social dog, she doesn’t have to go to the park or the dog store. But she does have to go the vet – that’s all we’re asking and we’re working very very hard to get her there.

    Now, about that timing comment. I spent a fair bit of time this past Saturday shaking or in tears as our neighbor’s dog once again terrorized us while I was out walking Bella (in our yard, on a leash). We have spoken to the neighbors numerous times. The dog actually lunges and barks at Bella through our windows – something we didn’t know was happening until last summer and while we’ve enacted a temporary solution for that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop Bailey from coming into our yard on a daily basis. And Saturday it resulted in me being injured – again. On the bright side, Bella was not hurt, Bailey ran off and Bella (who ripped the leash out of my hand pulling me down, hence my injuries) returned to me immediately. I will live.

    So after 3 years of trying to ‘be nice’, we have finally acquiesced and, after verifying with friends in the dog community this wouldn’t bring harm to the dog, we called Animal Control. I suspect this will result in Bailey not wandering through our yard for a couple of months. But if experience has taught me nothing else, she will be back terrorizing my poor dog again probably just about the time we’ve managed to convince Bella she has nothing to fear. :(

    Thanks for covering this topic. (And thanks for not lumping all reactive dog owners into the same bin.)