Attacked by another dog

John,
My dog’s name is Maggie. She is a 3 year old Shih- tzu. Last summer she was bitten by a Border Collie whose owner said that his dog would love to play with Maggie. When he opened his gate. The Border Collie immediately attacked Maggie, and grabbed her. She screamed so loudly a neighbour, came running out of her house. I checked Maggie but I didn’t see any marks. The next morning I went to pick her up and she cried, so I checked again. There was 2 broken marks on her skin. She healed but now she’s so scared of big dog’s I don’t know what to do. What can I do for little Maggie?
-Annette
Hi Annette,
You learned a lesson about how well people know and can control their own dogs the hard way. Lots of people take the chance but I won’t anymore. I decide what dogs mine interacts with if for no other reason then a lot of dog owners just don’t  understand the role of a responsible dog owner. They’re not bad people but it’s impossible to tell who has and hasn’t put the time in to learning things like a dog that loves playing with other dogs off property can perceive other dogs walking by “their” territory in a different context. I’ll bet that dog squeezed through that gate when it was barely open and was at a dead run before its owner could say, “Nice doggy”, let alone, “Come!”
They don’t understand that if they can’t recall their dog in simple situations let alone those like yours then they’ve no right subjecting others to a “my dog is good with other dogs – (I hope)” scenario. The insurance industry reports a pay out of more than $1 billion per year in homeowners’ liability claims resulting from dog bites. That’s dogs biting people of course but it gives you a sense of why I wouldn’t trust what anyone has to say about their dog anymore then I trust a friend with a sense of humour to set me up on a blind date.
You’ve got your work cut out for you. First thing you have to do is get your dog to pay attention to you in a wide range of scenarios that have nothing to do with other dogs but are distracting never the less. Start in the house and then work near traffic, skate boards, squirrels etc, and when you’ve got the dog sitting, coming and staying when those things are buzzing around start doing the same thing in the vicinity of a dog park. Far away initially but closer and closer to the fenced area as time goes by. In the interim you’ve got to find a few dogs that are as close to comatose in temperament or highly trained to behave calmly around other dogs and work at getting your dog performing a few commands around them. Also, whatever it is your dog loves; treats, a toy etc. start associating it with the training around other dogs. I think it would be wise to work with a trainer to help you decide when it’s time to go to each new level.
Paws-itively yours,
John Wade
www.dogtrainingwithjohnwade.com

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