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So, I was outside enjoying the October weather when I saw a lady with a bully breed on a flexi leash walk past our house. Just as she was about a foot past our property, on the opposite side of the street I saw a couple and their three-year-old walking. The man had a Pomeranian on a leash. The little boy was holding the leash of a smallish smooth coated mutt. They were about 200 feet away from the lady with the large bully breed.

I'm watching the family walking along, and the bully on the flexi. Bully turned and noticed the family, shrugged and went back to sniffing the tree. Then, for some odd reason, the woman with the flexi decided to walk into the middle of our street and look down the road. She was not looking at her dog. But I was.

The bully was stiff and alert, watching the family approaching. Lady with the bully had her eyes on goodness only knows what. Not her dog, that's for sure. As the family and their dogs got closer, Bully looked a combination of alert and weirded out, stretched to the end of his flexi leash. He looked at his handler, the approaching family, his handler, the approaching family. He was upset and didn't know what to do about it. He wanted some direction and no one was watching him, except for me.

Smooth coated mutt being walked by a three-year-old, does what young stupid dogs do. The mutt barked and lunged toward the bully, knocking the small child face down on the ground. Kid screamed and let go of the leash. Small smooth coated dog started running toward the bully. Bully, who was already weirded out, barked and lunged.

The lady with the bully grabbed a clue, and yelled, "No!" She reeled her bully in and got to our side of the street. Woman across the street stamped on the leash of the loose dog. Apart from some noise and a crying kid, everything was fine.

Except...

Except I saw this coming long before they got even close to one another. When the bully's body posture changed, I knew this was not a good situation. The bully was sending off body posture signals that screamed, "I'm not comfortable right now! Help!" He was not the aggressor. The smooth-coated mutt walked by a three-year-old was the problem. From what I saw, had the family simply passed him by, the bully would have calmed himself down.

I'm a dog trainer. I understand dog body language better than I understand people. Had that been my dog class, I'd have headed that situation off long before it started. Ring management instincts would have had me send both dogs in opposite directions.

If this was unfolding on your street in front of you, what would you do? Would you yell, "Everybody STOP!" Because I feel like everyone got lucky today. Tomorrow might be a different story.
 

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Click,

It's kind of like watching a train wreck. You want to stop it, but what can you do?

It might be possible to talk to the adult that is nearest to draw their attention to the problem, but it is just as likely that the intervention would be too slow and mainly serve to distract the adults more from what they should be paying attention to.

I'm glad it worked out reasonably well in the end. Too bad for the little one falling down, though.
 

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If close enough I would say something, probably to the dog. Just enough to distract him a little, and call his owner's attention to what is happening - "Hello, you handsome lad! Aren't you gorgeous! What can you see that is worrying you? Oh, just a silly puppy, nothing to bother about." Most owners respond well to praise of their dog, and it gets the message across without antagonising anyone.

At a distance it is more difficult - yelling loudly enough to be heard is likely to upset everyone without improving matters. Thank heavens no one - human or canine - was seriously hurt, and let's hope they have all learned a lesson.
 

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If close enough I would say something, probably to the dog. Just enough to distract him a little, and call his owner's attention to what is happening - "Hello, you handsome lad! Aren't you gorgeous! What can you see that is worrying you? Oh, just a silly puppy, nothing to bother about." Most owners respond well to praise of their dog, and it gets the message across without antagonising anyone.
I like this approach - communicating your concerns to the owner via the dog. I've used it before when I see people obliviously dragging a desperately pooping or tangled dog, or ignoring the signs of pain while walking their dog on a salty winter sidewalk.

Reading about this situation really put a sick feeling in my stomach, as I've been feeling more and more frightened lately of neighbourhood dogs. Or, more accurately, of their ill-equipped handlers. Almost every encounter I witness on our street feels like a disaster waiting to happen.
 

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I tend in fjm's direction. A yell down the street would startle everyone and might make things worse by upsetting the alerted dog even more.


I think I would also check in with the family and maybe in the process of expressing concern for their dogs and their child slip in a little talk about what you had noticed in the hopes that they will take their walks in a more observant way.
 

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A flexi lead on a bully breed are red flags to us, but not necessarily to a family outing of innocents. I saw a young family at risk in the dark last week from our cameras. Father jogging with a baby carrier, and two young kids keeping up on scooters. It was pitch dark out and a friend of mine was jogging with the first of her two dogs. One of the littles on the scooters aimed right at her, enthused to meet the doggie. Luckily, it was her calm, older dog, but she still warned, “Stay away from the dog”, to the child. Chrissie,her dog, had never seen a scooter. The dad was very relaxed and got his son back into their lane. But it was as if it hadn’t occurred to him, accordingly to my friend, that it might have been dangerous, never mind that no one had reflective gear for AM traffic. I learned the full story when she called later that morning to ask me to tell my neighbor that his Rottweiler was on the street again when she was out running with her young dog. Which is when I told her about the family rolling down the road in the dark and how worried I was for them. Here be coyotes, too, besides big dogs that should be behind gates.
 

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I too like fmj response. I’m afraid I probably would have shouted out a warning before my brain would kick in with a more thoughtful action.
 

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Thanks everybody. This is why I don't walk my dogs in my neighborhood. There are a lot of distracted dog handlers, and simply clueless ones. It really did feel like watching an accident waiting to happen. Next time, I think I'll just ask the handler what the worried dog's name is. That would snap the handler back into paying attention to her dog.

I don't know any of these people. They don't live on my block and I've never seen them before. I may never see them again. I'm glad it ended the way it did. That could have gone so badly.
 

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Yeah, there are SO many stupid dog owners. I recently walked by a pickup with 2 massive mastiff type dogs in it, both barking loudly at me, leaning out of the box of the truck, spit flying. I hesitated and their owner yelled over to me (she had to yell to be heard over her dogs freaking out, and I still couldn't really hear her as much as lip read), "they won't bite!" I rolled my eyes at her and went the other direction. Thank heavens it's illegal to drive with dogs unsecured in pickup boxes here now, even though people still do because we have so few police officers here, it's not as common as a few years ago when EVERY truck had a dog in the box

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If close enough I would say something, probably to the dog. Just enough to distract him a little, and call his owner's attention to what is happening - "Hello, you handsome lad! Aren't you gorgeous! What can you see that is worrying you? Oh, just a silly puppy, nothing to bother about." Most owners respond well to praise of their dog, and it gets the message across without antagonising anyone.

At a distance it is more difficult - yelling loudly enough to be heard is likely to upset everyone without improving matters. Thank heavens no one - human or canine - was seriously hurt, and let's hope they have all learned a lesson.
Wow, you are so quick witted and tactful

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I like this approach - communicating your concerns to the owner via the dog. I've used it before when I see people obliviously dragging a desperately pooping or tangled dog, or ignoring the signs of pain while walking their dog on a salty winter sidewalk.

Reading about this situation really put a sick feeling in my stomach, as I've been feeling more and more frightened lately of neighbourhood dogs. Or, more accurately, of their ill-equipped handlers. Almost every encounter I witness on our street feels like a disaster waiting to happen.
I like your advice. So many people are oblivious to the danger of letting a small child walk a dog by themselves . When I had young kids they were desperate to hold the dog's leash. So we let them --- while I held a second, shorter leash attached to the collar.

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I like your advice. So many people are oblivious to the danger of letting a small child walk a dog by themselves . When I had young kids they were desperate to hold the dog's leash. So we let them --- while I held a second, shorter leash attached to the collar.

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That's what I've done with the youngest children I've cared for as well. Gives them empowerment, but keeps the dogs safe!
 
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