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I'll start off by saying that Fluffy has come a long way since I've made a similar post here. Just the other day, the neighbor's little fluffy white dog bounded towards us off-leash, and Fluffy let out not one screech, although he did try to scrabble towards it. He got many treats for his silence. Anyways, Fluffy and I went on our morning walk together (nowadays, I walk the dogs separate for various training reasons), and things were going great. I did forget my baggie of treats, but, eh, it'll be fine, I say halfway through the walk when I realize I've forgotten them. Famous last words. We passed by a Lab across the street. Fluffy was cool about it. No barks, just a bit of staring while he pooped. We walked a little further. More dogs. Okay, fine.

Aaaannndd then we bump into this one dog. Some kind of bully breed. Very pretty. Well mannered from the looks of it. I've never seen it before, so I pick Fluffy up just in case and give them a wiiiddeeee berth, since there's no way to cross the road unless you go up to the stoplight and cross. But he's normally good with me holding him. I ask him if he "sees the puppy" (our command for it's fine, they won't hurt you).

Terror ensues.

Fluffy barks. He whines. He fights against my grip. "You want a piece of me? I'll give you a piece of me! Don't you dare set one foot closer!" He says. I put him down shortly after and get my rear end out of there, as it's the first time he's done something like that in a while. And of course I don't have any treats on me, so we can't do any remedial training. I'm feeling like we're back to square one, so I turn back around when I see a posse of Puggles coming towards us. By this time, the apparently very scary dog has crossed the street. Fortunately he doesn't see it, so I can rush home and curse myself for forgetting treats the one time I need them.

But... Why this dog in particular? It did seem a bit tense, and stared at us, but honestly, any dog would if it met Fluffy like that. I could say maybe it's a breed thing, and maybe it gave off a different vibe/was likely unfixed, but Fluffy doesn't react hardly at all to the neighbor's window-slamming, barky PB mix, which would arguably be much more scary. And we typically pass other, similar dogs without much issue. The ears were cropped, so maybe there was some 'off' doggy body language going on? Maybe it's because we've never seen this dog before? Maybe I'm sending some tension into the leash because I don't know this dog? Maybe he knew at that point that I didn't have treats on me, and so could act however he pleased?

Just... Whhhyyyyy!?
 

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Staring is one of the rudest behaviors among dogs. Herding dogs are willing to stare intensely a other animals because it is part of their working array of behaviors. Even body block herders like GSD will stare and are pretty unwilling to break eye contact. I have seen mild to very reactive responses to staring dogs. Not having seen the details of the sequence of behaviors and responses I can't say for sure but if the loose bully stared first and didn't break eye contact that could be what made Fluffy react as he did.

Since you picked Fluffy up he most certainly felt whatever level of tension you were feeling. Also by picking him up he had no freedom to control his environment. If you have a small dog and you think there is potential for an attack the bet thing you can do is to take your dog's leash off and let him fend for himself. He is likely faster, a better broken field runner and likely able to squeeze into small spaces to hide on his own. You take yourself out of the target picture and can call 911 as well. I know that is a very counter-intuitive way of responding, but it is potentially the safest way to respond for all concerned. If the aggressor is hanging on your arm trying to get your dog you end up mauled and your dog is pretty well guaranteed to be destroyed when you let go of him.
 

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Great response there^^^ well said.

When Norman was a pup I took him to a basic puppy manners course. The trainer was amazing and she said the same thing. If your dog is staring at another dog too long, break their eye contact!!! That being treats, petting, silly sounds, whatever!! Like she said, staring can be seen as rude and almost like a challenge of “who’s top dog here??”

The trainer suggested throwing some treats in the ground. That way the dog is sniffing the ground in a non-threatening pose so the other dog feels comfortable.

Now if the other dog is staring, still try and distract your baby as best as you can.

I don’t think you’re back to square one, but I know it might feel that way. Fluffy seems to be doing great! Little hiccups are bound to happen.

I’m wondering if you picking fluffy up, made him feel as if there’s something to be concerned about?? Maybe he felt he wasn’t in control anymore and once he saw the new dog, it was game-on.
Or
He might be reading your energy and your body language like “moms holding me, she’s got anxiety, OH NO A NEW DOG! GO AWAY DOG THIS IS MY MOM!!”
Just an idea!!

You’re doing awesome!
I’m trying to help my Norman and Loki learn how to walk better on leash. Their issue is that they think they have to say hello to EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON AND DOG!! Lots of pulling lol.
Also, Norman is a bit protective over Loki and me. So that’s something I’m keeping my eye on.

You’re not alone!! :)
 

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SamieNorman I say "break that eye contact" at least once every class during my novice training. I've never had any aggressive lunges or anything close to a fight because I work at managing it very carefully. The dog who is being stared at can send calming signals that are likely to help diffuse tensions too. Lily has good dog sense in this regard. When she doesn't like being offered eye contact from another dog she shows them her back. It is amazing how well that works to diffuse the situation. You can work on lowering the energy in an eye contact tension situation if you can help your dog to send a calming signal.
 

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That’s awesome! I need to work on that, that’s a good command I should try. I’m using the work “Look!” so they look at me and get a treat or praise. So far, Norman is great at calming down when I need him to. His brother Loki?? Totally different story. He’s just enjoying his puppyhood as long as he can LOL. Calming him isn’t an option when meeting new friends
 

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SamieNorman "break that eye contact" is the order for the people to collect their dogs! To collect a staring dog I would use "look" "up" or "eyes"... for Lily and Javelin it is up meaing look up at me. And for Loki getting a sit or down before greeting new dogs can become a predictor of the chance to play. You can use that to improve the static behavior before the release to play on the strategy of the Premack Principle.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
Staring is one of the rudest behaviors among dogs. Herding dogs are willing to stare intensely a other animals because it is part of their working array of behaviors. Even body block herders like GSD will stare and are pretty unwilling to break eye contact. I have seen mild to very reactive responses to staring dogs. Not having seen the details of the sequence of behaviors and responses I can't say for sure but if the loose bully stared first and didn't break eye contact that could be what made Fluffy react as he did.
It all happened really fast, so I can't say for sure that's what happened, but I think you're right in saying the other dog did stare first. It would make sense, too, since most of the other dogs around here have eyes only for their owners, simply don't care that we're passing other than a polite glance, or are so hyped up that the owner preemptively crosses the road.
Since you picked Fluffy up he most certainly felt whatever level of tension you were feeling. Also by picking him up he had no freedom to control his environment. If you have a small dog and you think there is potential for an attack the bet thing you can do is to take your dog's leash off and let him fend for himself. He is likely faster, a better broken field runner and likely able to squeeze into small spaces to hide on his own. You take yourself out of the target picture and can call 911 as well. I know that is a very counter-intuitive way of responding, but it is potentially the safest way to respond for all concerned. If the aggressor is hanging on your arm trying to get your dog you end up mauled and your dog is pretty well guaranteed to be destroyed when you let go of him.
Wait, really? Well, I feel sheepish. My concern was that he would try to bunny-hop towards the other dog and disturb it somehow, but I guess if the dog had attacked, it wouldn't have mattered. Fortunately it was well-behaved, other than the staring, and stayed by the owner.
You’re doing awesome!
I’m trying to help my Norman and Loki learn how to walk better on leash. Their issue is that they think they have to say hello to EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON AND DOG!! Lots of pulling lol.
Also, Norman is a bit protective over Loki and me. So that’s something I’m keeping my eye on.

You’re not alone!! :)
Haha, thanks. :) Nice to know we aren't the only ones sometimes.


Thank you both for your input! We're going to try and avoid such situations in the future, but it's very nice to know what to do if it happens again.
 

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Bobby loves to stare at other dogs but I don’t let him. I tell him, “No stare.”
It’s been a great command for him to learn as we live in a very high dog traffic
neighborhood. He generally will look away. If the the distraction is too much then he has to look at me.
 
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