I have a 2.5-year-old German shepherd, Xena, who we got as a puppy. Like most GSDs, she's territorial and no one can come into our (fenced) yard, much less walk past on the sidewalk, without her letting us know about it. She looks and sounds extremely scary - well, apparently. All I see is a big, lovable goofball.
Anyway, this is just background for an incident that happened a couple weeks ago, and I was hoping to get some insight as to her thought process, if that makes any sense ...
Brief background: We were out on a walk near our house and her leash broke, so we cut through an empty lot to avoid pedestrian traffic. A cute little puppy lives in a house next to the empty lot, about 10-20 yards away from where the leash broke. I was holding on to her harness, but her ears pricked and she started to pick up her pace when we got closer to the house. I figured she wanted to play with the puppy and just let her go. Of course, the next thing I know, I hear this man yelling so loudly that his voice literally echoed through the entire lot. I can understand his reaction - he's walking his little dachshund and here's this big GSD running loose.
But he was COMPLETELY unhinged. As soon as I heard him yelling, I ran as fast as I could to catch up with Xena and grabbed her harness - everything happened so fast that I don't remember everything that happened, but I don't remember her barking, growling or anything like that, even as the guy continued to scream and let loose a torrent of words and names that I won't repeat here. Let's just say he used very colorful language to describe her AND me. I finally told him to stop yelling, it wasn't helping anything, but he continued so loudly and forcefully that I started to fear for my own safety. When he screamed out, "That dog needs to be put down!" I finally just lost it and started screaming back at him. I could tell just by his body language that he wanted to haul off and hit me, but then out of NOWHERE, he kicked her! I kicked him back, he kicked me, then I called the cops.
So, all this leads to my question. I was so focused on (at least initially) trying to calm the guy down, and then after he kicked her, trying to defend her that I didn't see Xena's reaction to the whole thing. Even as the guy was yelling and screaming and carrying on, she didn't bark, growl or make any other aggressive moves toward either him or his dog. She never made a move on either of them the entire time. She also never made a move as we continued through the lot toward our house, not barking, lunging, growling, etc., even though the guy and his dog were walking maybe 10-15 feet ahead of us.
I honestly can't express how glad I am that Xena didn't lose her temper and attack the guy - that would've ended very, very badly. It didn't even occur to me until a day or two later to think that a dog, no matter how big or small, would be expected to jump into the fray and defend their owner in a confrontation. But I remember reading that a dog that's confident in his/her owner knows that he/she will keep the dog safe, and probably wouldn't get directly involved unless given a command to. So ... does anyone have thoughts as to what might have been going through her head?