I’ve wanted to write something about this for awhile, but never have. This subject has nothing to do with writing, books, or anything even remotely related, but it is important to me.
I have this wonderfully amazing dog. Her name is Idris. She is a Pit Bull- German Shepard mix and we adopted her from our local Animal Shelter about 4 years ago. Before the Animal Shelter she was a stray and when we adopted her she was about six months old, she had no training and had never (as far as anyone could tell) had an owner.
Idris took a bit of time to adjust to having humans. She nipped and played too rough. She chased the cats so badly some of them would try to climb the curtains, but with time she became better. She even now knows that the word “Ow” means she stops what she is doing immediately and calms down- even if she wasn’t playing with you roughly.
All of the things that Idris did that made it difficult for us she grew out of. At least most of the things. She does still bark and growl if someone comes to the house, but to be honest, I’d rather have her do that then ignore it when strangers come by, I don’t exactly live in the greatest of neighborhoods.
There is one thing though that no matter what we’ve tried, she just can’t get over.
Idris is horrible on her leash. Not in a she pulls too hard kind of way (I mean she does, she is super strong, but that isn’t much of an issue). Idris has days where if anyone comes near us, she will bark and growl and act a fool- and if they have a dog, forget it. Some people call this ‘leash aggressive’ and I won’t deny that when she acts like this, that is what she is being, aggressive, but I also know that if the person or dog were to actually take the time to come see her and let her get close she wouldn’t be aggressive, she would put her tail between her legs and hide behind me.
So I guess, the whole reason I want to write this is not because I want people to walk up to a dog that is barking or lunging at them. No, that’d be silly (don’t do it), but what I want is for you to understand that just because a dog does this doesn’t mean they are actually an aggressive dog. Idris would never hurt anyone unless she thought they were hurting me, and even then it’d have to be obvious they were trying to harm me.
I see the looks Idris gets when I walk her, even when she doesn’t act up. I know what people are thinking about her, and about me and it hurts me to think that anyone could look at my baby and think she is vicious. Yes, I get it, she isn’t putting her best foot forward on the days that she acts like this (which is not every time I walk her, it is actually getting to be more and more rare). Even when she is the best behaved dog, people see her and see what breed she is, or maybe they’d seen us before on one of her bad days and now that is all they think of when they look at her.
I’m not asking for anyone to look at a dog that is being aggressive and assume they are the sweetest baby. What I’m asking is that you remember that they are someone’s loved pet, and yeah, they’ve got some issues, but as owners we do try our best to limit these instances but even a leash aggressive dog needs to be walked.
I usually walk Idris super early in the morning or just before dark at night because I know that is when there aren’t many people out, but every now and again there is, and on one of her bad days she’ll do what she does. I can’t help it. It is just a part of who she is. Sure I bet one of those more aggressive types of training could work it out of her, but I don’t agree with their methods. I have tried every humane way I can think of to help her, but she is after all an animal, and she is going to go with her animal instincts.
I’m not looking for training tips, or advise. It’s cool if you think you know far more than I do and want to give me some super amazing advise, but you don’t know me, or my dog and I’ve tried damn near everything already, so kindly, if you are reading this, keep your advise to yourself. I appreciate the thought, but I don’t want it. I haven’t given up trying to help Idris, this is a long process and it isn’t going to work right away, but she is getting better so I’m at least on to something.
What I want out of all this is some understanding. I want you to think twice next time you see a dog that isn’t perfectly behaved and know that the owner is probably trying everything they can to help their dog feel more comfortable on walks, but this process is trial and error. Know that the owner, is so embarrassed that their dog acts like this and they wish more than anything that everyone else could see their beloved pet in the way that they do. A little bit of understanding goes a long way. Even a knowing nod when you see them notice you down the road and turn down the first side road they can see.
And while this isn’t an advertisement, the more people that know about The Yellow Dog Project the better. This is so important for people with dogs like me, and it is a great way to let your neighbors know that your dog needs special care when out and about, for various reasons, and that just coming up to them isn’t always a good idea. You should always ask someone before approaching their dog no matter what, but this way you know it is an extra good idea to do so.