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Don't Let Aggression Spoil Your Dog's Night Out

Restaurants and other pet-friendly places are great opportunities to socialize your dog, but only if the dog is comfortable.

One night after going to the dog park, I had to pick up a foster on my way home. Kaiah, Grayson and I went to meet her at Dunedin House of Beer, one of our favorite establishments. There are always bowls of water for the dogs, and there is a beverage for me, too. 

While we were there, we were in the extra room socializing with other dog owners and dogs. The room has closed doors, so the dogs were able to run around the room visiting one another. 

This can be a good or bad thing depending on a dog’s demeanor. I am lucky because both of my dogs are pretty good with other dogs. I have socialized them both, so they are used to other dogs and do well. 

However, they aren't perfect. I had to step in when another dog had Kaiah cornered under a table, and both were growling. I watch my dogs at all times because one never knows what is going to happen. As I corrected them, the foster mom told me her dog is from a puppy mill and that I scared her. Now, I have been around puppy mill dogs, and they do have different actions; however, cornering a dog and growling is never acceptable. I apologized to the lady, but I would do the exact same thing again.

A little later in the evening, another dog started getting aggressive toward others. The owner took her dog outside for a few minutes. When she brought the dog back in, it got aggressive toward a different dog. I was silly enough to assume the dog was leashed and the leash was being controlled by a human. Unfortunately, I was wrong because the dog then attacked Grayson.

When I say the dog attacked, he did not just growl at Grayson; he backed Grayson up against a wall and kept attacking him. As I tried to reach Grayson, the owner of the dog was in front of me, trying to step on her dog’s leash as her dog continued to attack Grayson. Grayson never growled, snarled or barked; he just cowered to the dog. I tried to push the owner out of the way as she nonchalantly reached for the leash instead of the dog. After breaking them up, I did not get an apology; she didn't even ask if Grayson was OK.

I understand that socializing a dog requires taking it out in public, but owners also need to keep control of the dog, especially if it has aggression issues. We cannot predict what our dogs are going to do, but as a longtime dog owner, foster mom and adoption coordinator, I have been around enough dogs to know that there are signs they give off.

According to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, common signs of aggression or discomfort in dogs include:

  • Rigid stance
  • Hair standing up on the back
  • Ears erect
  • Snapping
  • Baring teeth
  • Wagging tail

The most common cause of aggression in dogs is fear, according to the foundation. Owners can take steps toward correcting aggressive behavior by consulting with a veterinarian to rule out underlying medical issues; doing training in the home, where the dog is more likely to be comfortable; and making sure the dog is getting enough exercise.

Please take time to learn your dogs’ behavior, and know how you need to control them. Many dogs that have been socialized can go in public without any issues, but there are some dogs that have been through so much in life that their issues will always be there. If nothing else, think about your dog and whether it will be stressed by being around other people and dogs.

Dunedin has a number of dog-friendly bars and restaurants including:

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Is your favorite pet-friendly establishment missing from our list? Let us know in the comments, and don't forget to rate it in the Dunedin Patch directory.

Happy Jordan August 24, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Great job Shelly, you're exactly right. I love Dunedin being 'dog friendly' but that doesn't mean that all dogs are.

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