Dog’s Eye View: Advocacy and dog-dog interactions |

Dog’s Eye View: Advocacy and dog-dog interactions

Sandra Kruczek/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the term, advocate, as “one that supports or promotes the interests of another.”

Recently I have run across several incidences that prompted me to write about this piece of dog guardianship that seems to be forgotten or somehow missed. Years ago I wrote a piece about new puppy owners taking charge of how friendly people greeted their puppy, “Meet and Greet — You’re the Advocate and Coach.” You are the advocate for your puppy and the coach for the person wanting to interact with the pup.

A friend was walking her recently rescued terrier mix and was approached by someone with a larger dog. The approaching person was calling out, “Let’s let them meet.” My friend, noticing her little dog pulling farther and farther away, said, “No, can you see that my dog is already trying to get away from your dog?”

Understandably we tend to want our own dogs to be with other dogs thinking that it’s normal for dogs to interact with their own species. To a degree, this is true. We may be thinking of beautiful family units of wolves or even familiar groups of neighborhood dogs that are out every day with their owners. Large groups of unfamiliar dogs were never meant to be together with the expectation that they will all get along famously.

I have seen well-meaning owners walk their dog down the street, perhaps window shopping, oblivious to the fact that their dog is struggling to escape the advances of another dog. If our dog is afraid, we can change some ways that we handle these situations.

First of all, when I have my dog out for a walk I try to be 100 percent present and aware of our surroundings and especially aware of his body language. If you see your dog stop and freeze, it’s likely that he is staring at something that he needs to address. Does he try to create distance between an oncoming dog by trying to leave the area?

If we are not paying attention, we can inadvertently get him in trouble. Plus, what does that say to him if we have him trapped and don’t help him. We’re his advocate, not just a casual bystander.

You can create a human/dog sandwich by placing yourself in between the approaching dog and your dog to run interference. My dog Lawrence was again charged by a loose dog a week ago at a city park. This time I was able to pick him up and turn away from the dog. My husband ran interference for us while the owner tried to catch his dog.

I can teach my dog the emergency u-turn move. This is taught and practiced before it’s needed. I have my dog on leash at my side and put a food treat right at the end of his nose. I keep him right next to my leg and lure him around in a close turn heading in the opposite direction. I then give him the treat and walk briskly to create distance from what he might perceive as a threat.

As my friend did, I can respond quickly, honestly and emphatically that I do not want you to bring your dog close to mine. Advocacy is a full time job. We brought our good buddies into our busy and distracting world. It’s our job to be there for them and keep them safe.

Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training, LLC with more than 30 years of experience.

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