Charged by a Dog

I was having a nice morning jog with my Siberian Husky, when we were suddenly charged by a large German Shepherd.

His owner was not in sight, but shouts were coming from a nearby house, “Spencer”… “SPEN-cer” … “SPEN-CER” … over and over again. This was ignored by the GSD as he charged my Siberian who tried to bolt.

Since she was on-leash, she couldn’t, so she submitted to the GSD who was actually a handsome, and curious fella. He was interested in smelling her and not much else. After a bit of butt-sniffing, he decided to go home – probably in the hopes of stopping the continuous “SPEN-CER” shouting.

While no dogs were physically hurt in the encounter, I cut my finger pretty badly when my Siberian tried to run away. I was dripping blood onto the sidewalk, so I had to cut my walk short, and go home to treat my hand.

It is dangerous to let dog(s) roam freely on neighborhood streets without a leash.

  • We were next to a fairly busy road, and the GSD could have tried to charge across the road and gotten hit.
  • My Siberian happens to be a very submissive dog, so it is unclear what would have happened if the GSD invaded the space of a more dominant dog.
  • Shouting the dog’s name continuously from inside the house does not help, and may even make things worse.

In general, only let a dog off-leash when he is in an off-leash park and only if you have perfect voice control over him.

While your dog may be friendly, or seem harmless because he is small, you cannot be sure of the temperament of other dogs at the park. To keep your dog safe, keep him within voice distance at all times, and call him back to you when you see other dogs, especially dogs that are on leash.

I have been charged more than a few times in my neighborhood.

Frequently, the owners come out running not too far behind their dogs. Sometimes it is an escaped dog who usually just avoids us. Whatever the case, off-leash neighborhood dogs are a danger to themselves, to pedestrians who may be very afraid of dogs, and to other on-leash dogs. If a fight occurs, there may be blood, tears, heartache, and a big lawsuit on your hands.

Keep your dog safe by keeping him inside the house, making sure your yard is perfectly secure, and walking him on-leash in the neighborhood.

Carry a cell-phone with you during walks, and perhaps even a walking stick, in case of emergencies.

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  1. Melissa says

    Oh my goodness… This is the whole reason why I fear walking my husky in my neighborhood!! I live in a ghetto neighborhood where it’s common to have a dog just for protection. Just a bunch of people uneducated about dogs. In the past I was charged by two pit bulls. One of them actually attacked my girl and bit her rear end but fortunately no blood was shed. I would love to learn more about body language in dogs so I can prevent attacks like this. Also I wish more people would be more educated in having dogs not just for protection but for a companion!

  2. says

    I live in California and it is the law that you have control over you dog when in a public place. Meaning on the Leash or already submissive enough to ignore everything other than you.
    What I do when another dog or dogs charge us while I am walking my dogs is (if the owner is present or near) I inform them that they need to come and get their dogs because since I am abiding by law to have my dogs on the leash that I will not be legally responsible for what happens to their dogs if a fight were to happen. Most owners will come and get their dogs and honestly I really don’t care if they give me a look at least I’m educating the public and speaking the truth, they can take the harsh reality of the information I gave them any way they wish to doesn’t bother me any.

    If there is a stray dog that charges us I first grab hold of my emotions and ignore the other dog no matter how close it gets, You have to correct your dogs focus towards something else so if my dogs focus turn towards the stray I do a quick jerk on the leash and continue forward with our walk. sometimes the dogs follow and if I start to get frustrated my dogs start showing more aggression or interest in the other dog so it’s important that no matter how your dog reacts before meeting the other dog get ahold of yourself first because your dog will follow your dominance, but you need to be able to be calm and assertive to get the message through.

  3. Alex says

    Yeah, Cesar does do that. Like you said, it’s to get the dog to change to that state like he does with his human clients; getting them to put their heads up and put out thier chests. I think it’s the same; only with humans we can teach ourselves to do those things when we’re not really like that. The point is that Cesar wasn’t teaching that dog to hold it’s tail up when it’s scared, he was just using the body language to change the internal language.

    I think Ian Dunbar trains his dogs to calm themselves, but I’m only going by hear say from what my dad read up on because I never read Dunbar’s books(mostly because he’s like Victoria and has discriminated against Cesar).

    It probably would since dogs can’t really lie with thier body language; if they could it would make trainers have an even harder time!

  4. shibashake says

    It would be a pretty bad idea to teach your dog to lie with his body language even though he’s not that way on the inside.

    Hmmm, this reminds me of when Cesar Millan raises a dog’s tail or puts a harness-like thing on their back to keep them from tucking their tails between their legs. I wonder if changing the external body language can change their internal state as well.

    I know it works in some circumstances for people.

    So it would be the same idea with training various calming behaviors. The question is – will having a dog do calming behaviors on command actually help to calm him down internally as well? Would be interesting to test out – wonder if there are studies on this …

  5. Alex says

    It would be a pretty bad idea to teach your dog to lie with his body language even though he’s not that way on the inside. Now that would cause problems. It’s better to just get your dog to be calm, not just act it, anyway. Although you can train your dog to be calm, but do something that will cause excitement, like Cesar did with Daddy; he did a little hiss-hiss and Daddy started barking to teach the other dogs not to react to a barking dog.

    I think you can train a dog to act threatening than teach it to act calm when it’s not.

    Thank you. Now I can read it without my glasses.

  6. shibashake says

    Not sure how you would find a dog thats trained to do that; maybe an actor dog?

    Heh – yeah would be interesting to see if a dog could be trained to do that. I am not sure how to do it though, since calming signals is more a whole way of being, rather than just one behavior. I suppose one could start by training single behaviors that are associated with calming signals such as ‘Sniff grass’, or maybe ‘Lick lip’. Although, if a dog does that, but still had dominant energy, that would just be really confusing to other dogs.

    Another thing; could you maybe make you text darker? I’m here with my glasses on and still have a hard time reading your post.

    Done. Hope it is better now. Let me know if you want me to darken it more.

  7. Alex says

    The owner gave me a thank you as I went passed her after herding the dog back.
    I suppose you could train a dog to herd other dogs (Lupin does this with other dogs and even us, but we discourage it because he bites at our ankles), but the problem would be that the other dogs aren’t prey animals, and wouldn’t be easily herded.

    I think Daddy is pretty trained to give calming signals all the time! Therapy dogs are calming, too. Not sure how you would find a dog thats trained to do that; maybe an actor dog?

    Another thing; could you maybe make you text darker? I’m here with my glasses on and still have a hard time reading your post.

  8. shibashake says

    Hi Alex,

    It is good of you to go get the small dog back for the owner. Hopefully the owner properly thanked you, and will take extra special care in the future.

    It would be interesting to train a dog to help herd other dogs on command – although I guess that could trigger a fight. Perhaps we could also train a dog to give calming signals on command, to try and calm other dogs down.

    Wonder if anyone has done this … seems like it would be very useful to have a helper dog like that.

  9. shibashake says

    Hey Nicco!
    Great points!

    The body block is a great way to train dogs on a variety of things – not bolting out the front door, giving you space while you are sweeping or vacuuming, giving you space while you are preparing or eating food, etc. Great low stress technique.

    And yeah, I think yelling never really works. It indicates a loss of control and being calm is important, especially when the dog is really stressed. Yelling only gets the dog even more stressed, and may cause even more extreme behaviors.

    Also great point with recall. Never call a dog to you and then punish him with scolding etc. when he arrives. That just teaches him not to go to you in the future.

    I should write all this up – it is good stuff. Thanks!

  10. Alex says

    This just happened to me yesterday. Our developement is sunken in beside the main road; a good twenty foot semi-vertical drop (except for the road that goes into the developement). We were running Lupin on our bikes back to the house along the main road (the houses beside the road are turned away from the main and all have big back yards). There’s nothing but a gaurd rail between the road and the drop. There’s this one house that has a Berger Picard (or something that looks like one) and a small brindle dog. The Berger is always tethered to the ground and barks/runs around when we go by. The little dog came running out of the yard, ran up the steep hill, and ran after us on our bikes. I stopped and it ran into Lupin, who was looking around wondering what the heck was going on. Someone snarled, and the little dog started sniffing Lupin. It’s owner was frantically running up the road after it, and it was in danger of getting run over. I gave Lupin to my sister and rode my bike up to it and herded it back to it’s owner.

    While I was a little flustered after thinking that the dog was going to attack Lupin, I’d hate to see a dog get injured because of the fault of it’s owner.

  11. Nicco says

    Here are two revelations I’ve had as a first time dog owner that I can’t believe people who have owned dogs all their lives don’t understand –

    1) Understand and wield the power of the body block, it makes life so much easier for everyone. What an easy and effective way to set boundaries in the house! I usually just see people yell at the dog, and the dog has no idea what is going on. I suspect a lot of these escapes wouldn’t happen if the owners regularly practiced the body block.

    2) Yelling at the dog AFTER he has done something “bad” does nothing to teach him what he did wrong. So these owners of escaped dogs angrily yell at the dog and continue to yell after the dog has returned, making the dog less willing to return.

  12. MM says

    Hello Shibashake,

    I read this post and the other one and I am so glad I am not the only one who is so frustrated with this.

    Hiru prefers his personal space and does not like being charged at and will start to growl. I’ll then start to feel guilty because the other owner gives me that look, the “you have a bad dog” look. I usually walk right on by and Hiru is perfectly okay with moving away from it.

    He isn’t bad! I am not saying he is perfect but he able to walk right on by with just a passing glance and then stares straight forward again in our walks if a dog isn’t charging him. Even Keiko our new little puppy doesn’t charge unknown dogs but approaches them cautiously (like in the descriptions from Turid Rugaas’ books).

    I wish other owners stop allowing their dogs to charge or approach other pooches without permission, and stop with the bad looks too. (Venting…Lol)

  13. shibashake says

    LOL! Yeah, I am familiar with the bad looks. Sephy and I used to get some of those. πŸ˜€

    My neighbor Mike was just telling me this story about a Chi who ran out of his house and charged a Rottweiler. The Rottie responded by just holding the little guy down down by his neck. There was no blood and no real fight. However, later on, the Chi owners found out that their dog had a collapsed wind-pipe. The vet bill was $5k.

    But then, they had the audacity to sue the owner of the Rottie. πŸ™„

    Clearly, they didn’t win the lawsuit given that it was their dog that charged. DOH! Some people …

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