When a good game of chase turns sour. Predatory stalking dogs are no longer having fun, they’ve become overly aroused and anxious. Watch out!
I was hiking this morning with a friend and her two labs, ages 9 and 2.5 yrs old. Within the first 5 minutes of letting all the dogs off of their leashes it got out of control and could have been a disaster if I wasn’t paying attention.
My friends dogs don’t go hiking regularly, mostly getting exercised with walks or playing in their yard. Neither of them are aggressive, are great off leash and with other dogs, until today. They know all 3 of my dogs and never show bully behavior with other dogs but anythings possible, right? RIGHT!
We have domesticated dogs and we can train them as well as we can and in the end a dog will be a dog. If we don’t know how to read their body language, when the time comes that they are about to do something very dog – like and out of character, we will most likely miss a dog fight, bully behavior, fearful behavior and then wonder how THAT could possibly have happened.
I have a new dog in training, SADIE, a 10 month old Golden Retrieve who is a very gentile and sweet dog who was loved tremendously but didn’t get much socialization because her owner became ill. I’ve had her a week and she’s doing great. Meeting and greeting dogs with a happy tail, eager to be greeted, being the smeller and the smelee.
The same group did this hike yesterday with no problems but today was a different story.
They were all running up the trail and running back down to us, back and forth having what seemed to be a great time. I noticed that OBIE, the 9 yr old was beginning to stalk SADIE in a predatory way. I saw that SADIE was running back and forth but she wasn’t happy. She didn’t look like the dog in this image, only because she’s more confident yet she wasn’t running in play. She was anxious. OBIE was on her in an intense way and she felt his energy and didn’t like it. After 2 times of running back and forth I told my friend that OBIE is stalking SADIE and we needed to get him, now. Trouble is OBIE is deaf now, has no recall and he was intent on getting SADIE. When SADIE came back down the trail, I called her to me while bending over and she flew into my arms with relief. My friend was astonished. She wasn’t sure what I was talking about until she saw the hackles up on his back, SADIE calmly resting with me while OBIE shook it off. She knows me well enough to trust that I knew something was wrong and we needed to get him and was convinced when she saw the hackles up and a ‘SHAKE OFF’.
The other younger lab was joining in on the fun and had I not noticed what was going on, both dogs could have pursued SADIE and an attack could have ensued.
This happens all the time at dog parks and people don’t recognize this kind of predatory stalking as not a fun game of chase between dogs, often times turning into a fight with everyone left in the dark as to why it happened.
I put SADIE on the leash for about 5 minutes while everyone cooled their jets. I told my friend that we would switch off in a few minutes with her putting her dog on leash and me letting SADIE off again. We didn’t need to. Once we broke the spell and continued walking, within a few minutes, all was well and we did the rest of the hike just fine with both dogs off leash. I had my eagle eyes open for sure. Ah, but I always have my eagle eyes. I don’t know how not to.
Get it, learn from it and keep you and yours safe because you know how to read your dogs.