Monday, February 16, 2009

Challenge the charger

I have stopped dogs distances of 30-feet away from me without making a single sound.
I believe anyone can do it, but I have to put a disclaimer on this.
There’s always a chance it won’t work. I tend to think, though, that if it doesn’t work, you’re just back in the situation you would’ve been in anyhow — a dog is charging you and it’s going to approach you and you better just hope it doesn’t attack or that someone comes to your aid before it does.
So why not try to stop it? What have you got to lose?
Remember in my, “Be Polite!” blog how I wrote that eye contact and greeting a dog head-on creates a confrontation, a challenge, in the doggie world?
In this situation, you want to purposely use those things to challenge the charger.
And you want to behave like Sensi did when we were walking with the Pomeranian. Stick your chest out. Be proud. Feel in charge. Well, don’t just feel it, BELIEVE IT. Believe you are in charge and in control of the situation.
I always try to stop a dog as soon as I see him. Don’t bother waiting until the dog gets close. The further away, the better.
When I spot the dog, I quickly and instinctively step in front of Sensi or move him behind me or to the side. It is critical that in this situation, you are in front of your dog. If you’re not, the charging dog will be paying attention to your dog’s signals and not yours.
I assume my “power position.” Generally, I’ll put one foot forward, straighten my shoulders, stand as tall as I can and stick one arm straight in front of me with my hand giving the “Stop!” signal.
Sometimes I make a growlish, bark-like vocalization. “Eh!” I might growl.
The offending dog usually comes to a quick and complete stop. If it doesn’t, I take another step forward to let the dog know that I mean business.
Do not blink while you’re locked in eye contact with that dog. Don’t move. Don’t move your head. Don’t look at your dog. You must stand like a statue and you must NOT break eye contact.
Wait for the offending dog to give a signal that he doesn’t want to fight with you. If that dog turns its head sideways or looks at the ground, that’s what he’s telling you.
As soon as you see this — don’t waste a millisecond and I am serious — make your move.
“Get!” I’ll yell, moving forward slightly and waving him off with my hand.
The dog will likely turn around and head away from you, but beware, this is not the end.
Stand your ground for at least one more minute. Watch that dog.
Chances are, as soon as you turn around, he will too and he’ll start coming back at you.
So be ready to turn around and do it all over again.
It doesn’t really matter how many times I’ve done this — and I have done it sometimes on a daily basis — I never feel comfortable.
I’m always hiding my fear, my rapidly-beating heart. But I do it for Sensi, and I know it’s the right thing to do.
Got a dog that doesn’t seem like the kind to wait patiently for you to handle the situation? Give it a try anyhow. You might be surprised how your dog behaves when he sees that you’re providing leadership.

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