Let me tell you a story about little angry me. To people who know me and have seen me in situations like this before it will be a shock to learn I did not harm/scare anyone… yet.
In last three days I had three situations that involved idiot owners and aggressive dogs. In one of them me, Beau, Fenix and Salma were attacked by two white shepherds and while me and the older dogs were stopping the shepherds Beau run on a street and could have been hit by a car. The fact that I didn’t even verbally assault the owner of those shepherds really surprised me. I don’t know where all that zen is coming from ;).And this is only one of three situations. I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to get angry.
Yesterday I had tracking training planned for Beau so we went to a part of the forest/fields where by law dogs are not allowed to be off leash. He had bad experiences with strange dogs three days in a row (I already made arrangements to work on it next week) and I definitely do not want some obnoxious dogs to interfere during his training.
I lay first trail for Beau and guess what? Guy with an off leash bull terrier is walking towards us. Ok I think, let’s just wait till he leaves, and then we can move to a new place (I made sure the dog would not approach us). We move to anew place, I lay a trail, Beau is working very nicely and guess what? Another guy this time with an off leash pitt bull is approaching us. Beau saw the dog and went back to tracking (well done puppy!) but I felt all the anger and frustration from last three days building up in me. And to be honest part of me was hoping the dog will approach us, I was looking forward to a fight at this point. And yes of course consciously I didn’t want a conflict but being aggressive can be very self rewarding.
We all can recall a story (or few) about a dog suddenly, out of nowhere behaving in a extreme ‘out of character’ way. If a child have been hurt those stories often end up on the news. But this also happens very often in a much less dramatic way. Dog snaps at another dog, starts suddenly chasing things it did not chase before and so on.
Nothing happens in a vacuum, and our dog’s reactions depend on many little elements that come together. Ear infection on it’s own is already unpleasant, but add to it stress from a vet visit and a child pulling on dog’s ears and you very well might end up with a biting dog.
I think I did not react as intense as I used to in similar (often a lot milder) situations because between those events I simply had plenty of time to calm down and relax. Overall my stress level is low and I feel happy. And the same is true for dogs. If something stressful or arousing happens they need time to go back below threshold of reaction. If that doesn’t happen stressors will add up and the dog will react faster and with stronger intensity. And this is very important when we plan environmental training with puppies. Experiences the dog has before the exercise (and not just immediately before) will have direct influence on his reactions and capability to learn.