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My husband was walking Peggy tonight when two barking terriers, tethered together on a single leash, appeared out of nowhere. They ran at Peggy from either side of my husband, essentially tying his legs up, and tried to attack her. He said it was pretty bad: Snarling, lunging, and snapping, and meanwhile poor him, tangled up in the middle.

Peggy held her own, snapping back but, in his words, showing good restraint. And he eventually managed to extricate himself just in time for the owner to appear. He said she seemed so clueless, he didn't even bother getting angry. Just used Peggy's rock-solid "Let's go!" command and got the heck out of there.

My question: How can I make sure this doesn't turn into future wariness of small dogs or reactivity?

If we weren't still under lockdown, Peggy's classes would be the perfect fix. She's exposed to dogs of all shapes and sizes there. But it's looking to be at least a month before they're back up and running, likely longer, and she's at such an impressionable age. She turns one next week.

We have no well-socialized small dogs in our neighbourhood, otherwise I might arrange a socially distanced walk. Think she'll just bounce back okay?
 

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Oh no! I'm so sorry. That's awful to go through with a young dog. What a nightmare for you. I am very glad to hear that Peggy wasn't actually hurt. If you remember, Misha was attacked by a terrier in a very similar way when he was 10 months old. Thankfully it didn't seem to affect him at all and he still doesn't seem to understand aggression. I hope it has as little effect on Peggy, though she might not be as clueless as Misha is since she knew to at least try to defend herself. That's probably a good thing.

I think some of what Peggy learns from the event will come from you. The more upset you are by it, the more upset she will be. And if you tense up when you encounter similar dogs, she'll pick that up from you. So it is good to pay attention to your subconscious and how it may be perceived by her.

I think having play dates with other small dogs would be very good. But it does seem very difficult at the moment. I'll think about it.
 

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I think it's so cute that Misha doesn't understand aggression.

I'm feeling grateful for our trainer and classes, as my husband was able to extricate himself from the situation on auto-pilot, using a command we've practiced so many times. I think that helped him to quickly calm down, too, which in turn calmed Peggy down. She happily followed him away from the dogs, and he said their walk home afterwards was positive and relaxed. Proud of them both.

They're cuddling right now in bed while he does some late-night sketching. (He's a graphic designer and illustrator.) She seems okay. :)

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That really sucks that happened. Thank god it didn’t go to a place where Peggy had to physically harm the attacking terriers in self defense and they didn’t physically hurt sweet Peggy. I hope it’s one of those things that slip away in Peggy’s mind in the future, never to come up again. She looks calm and cozy snuggled up to your husband like that.
If you were nearby I’d totally be down to have Lacey and Peggy do a play date. Lacey would love playing with Peggy! I think their play styles would mesh well. She likes dogs of all sizes, but seems to especially like other poodle and poodle mixes.
 

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That always stinks big time when those things happen. We have new neighbors where I'd normally walk past. For the longest time I couldn't as the previous owner had pitts and would take them out front periodically off leash. Now they were there with them but I had an occasion where one as a youngster, ran up to us but the owner did get him...so I just stayed away. Now I've walked again and new owner has 2 boxers in backyard fence that has holes and broken pickets they could easily hop over and yesterday I also saw two chihuahuas running loose in their front yard. Well Renn is reactive , and we are now working on it but not going to chance my falling...and hurting our progress... I think your husband handled the situation great by just simply saying lets go..he didn't make a big deal of it so Peggy probably will not either..Continue on...
LOL
 

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I always remind myself it's the quantity of interactions positive/negative too. So if Peggy has had previous little dog experience, she should be fine, so long as it's not a very traumatic attack, or repeated many times.

We had something similar happen over the winter - walking in late dusk on a trail, hurrying back to the car before true dark, two big dogs (husky and a shepherd crosses???) came out of no where, snarling, barking, growling, lunging at her, one immediately started to try to mount her?! I dropped Annie's leash as I saw them coming (snarling, barking, growling, running full tilt at us) to give her a fair chance, and she successfully defused it with a snarl and lunge, running them off. Owners were calling them back, no reaction from the dogs. After they passed by, I called Annie, she came back immediately, and I grabbed Annie's leash again. She was shaken, but ok.

So far no lasting effects - she has had lots of positive interactions with both breeds before and since.

However, she definitely breed recognizes (and hates) pitbull type dogs, as she has had many negative interactions and only one positive with them now.
 

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That is unfortunate but all things considered I would just not make a big deal out of it. Much of how she will hold onto feelings about the incident will depend on how you and DH react when you are out and about. I would also bring some nice treats on your walks and give them to Peggy for not reacting to barking dogs in ear shot or line of sight (so long as they are not able to reach you). That is how I taught Lily to ignore barking dogs in houses when she was young. One very reactive GSD whose house she never wanted to continue past actually stopped barking at her once he realized she gave him no reaction.
 
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I think it's so cute that Misha doesn't understand aggression.

I'm feeling grateful for our trainer and classes, as my husband was able to extricate himself from the situation on auto-pilot, using a command we've practiced so many times. I think that helped him to quickly calm down, too, which in turn calmed Peggy down. She happily followed him away from the dogs, and he said their walk home afterwards was positive and relaxed. Proud of them both.

They're cuddling right now in bed while he does some late-night sketching. (He's a graphic designer and illustrator.) She seems okay. :)
Sounds like your husband handled it very well. With luck she'll forget about it. Terriers... always terriers...
 

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Personal responsibility, people... it's all about responsibility for your own action.
So the clueless owner committed a major no-no and walked away not even aware.
It's probably a major no-no to step on a terriers neck hard enough to break it. (That's maybe what I would have done.) But she might remember that clearly enough to not let it happen again.
 

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I hate that happened! I had same kinda thing when a neighbors dog,who doesn’t stay tethered or indoors, came after me and Teddy TWICE! We had to call animal control to speak to neighbors. I had to jerk Teddy up from the full grown black lab. Thankfully he didn’t seem bothered..me on the other hand 😳
 

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Oh, man, I saw this and my heart sank. Most of the old guard here know very well that my older spoo, Sugarfoot, was brutally attacked by a loose dog at the age of 8 months. He was wounded badly but not too horribly, and though with a lot of work, patience, and training, he did get better, he was never the quite the same and has never afterwards been trustworthy with other dogs (family members and a very limited number of special friends excepted). (In case anyone who wasn't around at the time wants to read about it, here's the link.)

All that said, it sounds like your attack wasn't quite that bad, and that everyone handled things well. Not to mention, it seems like Peggy has a much better temperament than Sugarfoot, so it seems like she'll bounce back pretty well.

The activities I used to help rehabilitate Sugarfoot were from the book Control Unleashed, which has lots of tips and activities for dealing with hyper, traumatized, or otherwise reactive dogs. Though, again, from what you've described it doesn't sound like Peggy got all that traumatized. She might be a little more cautious or scared about dogs later, but maybe the break until classes can resume will give her a chance to forget about the whole thing, too.

See how she reacts when she sees other dogs on normal walks. Maybe reward her when other dogs come into sight or pass by, so she associates the sight of other dogs with good things instead of being reminded about The Terrier Incident. Just getting those positive associations in there.

Keep us posted!
 

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Just seeing this. I'm so sorry to hear that this happened, it is terrifying.
I think that Peggy will be ok. You and your husband have given Peggy solid ground from day one so she's got what it takes to recover from this and you both do, too.
 

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Thanks so much, everyone. Love your insights, advice, and support. Not sure what I'd do without you!

Not sure I want my husband walking her on that street again unless I'm there as backup.

Peggy seems entirely unfazed, and luckily she's got a socially distanced playdate on Tuesday with three dog friends (one of which is a small-ish terrier mix).

It's hard work keeping the world feeling friendly and safe for them!! I suppose we can only do so much.
 

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I'm sorry this happened, just so very impressed with your husband's fine reaction, which led to Peggy's own excellent let's go choice. Seems like she is doing well and you two have things well in hand.
 

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Oh no! I'm so sorry. That's awful to go through with a young dog. What a nightmare for you. I am very glad to hear that Peggy wasn't actually hurt. If you remember, Misha was attacked by a terrier in a very similar way when he was 10 months old. Thankfully it didn't seem to affect him at all and he still doesn't seem to understand aggression. I hope it has as little effect on Peggy, though she might not be as clueless as Misha is since she knew to at least try to defend herself. That's probably a good thing.

I think some of what Peggy learns from the event will come from you. The more upset you are by it, the more upset she will be. And if you tense up when you encounter similar dogs, she'll pick that up from you. So it is good to pay attention to your subconscious and how it may be perceived by her.

I think having play dates with other small dogs would be very good. But it does seem very difficult at the moment. I'll think about it.
What good advice. I have a calm , friendly dog - and am known around town as a lovely, helpful retiree who tirelessly volunteers with the elderly, small children with learning challenges and the needy. But .... I have a white hot temper and completely fearless rage whenever my kids or dog is attacked. This past winter a huge Rottweiler rushed me, my dog and my very timid friend and her little dog from an open gate across 2 lanes of traffic. The property is posted "Danger, Guard Dog" . My rage flipped on, and I stood off the dog. I was screaming, snarling and stamping my feet and doing huge "grizzly bear" arm stance to intimidate the dog. The idiot owner stood on his 2nd floor balcony, staring at this madwoman berserker who so scared his "attack dog" that it turned tail and ran home.I then screamed threats and abuse at the owner . Surprised he didn,t fire the dog and offer me the job instead. My poor friend was terrified as this particular dog has been known to attack people and pets as the lazy owner was neglecting to shut his gate . Ever since that memorable day, that gate has NEVER been unlocked .....

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That is unfortunate but all things considered I would just not make a big deal out of it. Much of how she will hold onto feelings about the incident will depend on how you and DH react when you are out and about. I would also bring some nice treats on your walks and give them to Peggy for not reacting to barking dogs in ear shot or line of sight (so long as they are not able to reach you). That is how I taught Lily to ignore barking dogs in houses when she was young. One very reactive GSD whose house she never wanted to continue past actually stopped barking at her once he realized she gave him no reaction.
I am so proud of our Charlie. He trots on a loose leash next to my bike and he doesn't react at all to yapping dogs we pass. Even loose ones who run alongside.

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Thanks so much, everyone. Love your insights, advice, and support. Not sure what I'd do without you!

Not sure I want my husband walking her on that street again unless I'm there as backup.

Peggy seems entirely unfazed, and luckily she's got a socially distanced playdate on Tuesday with three dog friends (one of which is a small-ish terrier mix).

It's hard work keeping the world feeling friendly and safe for them!! I suppose we can only do so much.
So glad she was unhurt!!

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I'm sorry this happened, just so very impressed with your husband's fine reaction, which led to Peggy's own excellent let's go choice. Seems like she is doing well and you two have things well in hand.
Thank you for this encouragement. :)

I think it's so important to practise "emergency maneuvers" as part of daily puppy training. We've avoided so many questionable encounters just by abruptly turning around, and Peggy thinks it's pure fun because she has no reason to think otherwise. So rather than looking frantically back over her shoulder and buzzing with adrenaline, she shifts into a relaxed and happy mindset, like, "Oh I remember this! I know what to do!"

Same goes for the human. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing.
 
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