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I have a rescue GS mix w/ Ridgeback and Chow, 55 lbs. I have trained her not to bark and to sit and look at me when she sees other dogs and I give her a treat. But she still stares at them and the hair on her ridgeback rises and her tail wags hoping I'll let her sniff.

I am always sensitive to others walking and generally cross the street when passing other walkers.

This morning a woman I've never seen, walking a small dog says from across the street, "if your dog ever got away I would be scared for my dog. I can see the ridge on her back and it terrifies those of us who walk small dogs"

I pointed out that her tail was wagging indicating a friendly response and she replied "I know dogs and if yours ever got away from you, I would fear for my dog. I just want you to know that."

No response would have mollified this judgemental woman though I wanted to say you don't know MY dog. I generally say nothing and just keep my mouth shut and continue walking.

Perhaps I am being too sensitive but recently several people have been judgmental either with comments or stern looks and it's beginning to irritate me. Some don't even acknowledge their own dogs yapping as provocation!

Does this happen to others? And how do you respond ?
 

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I would respect what the woman was telling you. Even if you disagree with her. You don't have to change anything you are doing, necessarily. But she was simply telling you what her opinion was.


I will say that a wagging tail has nothing to do with a dog's intent. Some of the worst fights I have seen over my many years involved dogs that were wagging right before it happened. A low tail, wagging in a loose, easy manner is very different from a tail wagging in a tight, "snapping" fashion.

Sheilah
 

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yes, a wagging tail has absolutely nothing to do with being friendly. It's a sign of excitement. A dog with raised hackles and a wagging tail watching me/my dog would definitely be a cause for concern.
I would start training her to look at you vs watching the other dog. It will help break her focus and stop the excitement before it starts to build
 

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This is an emotional reaction some people have. It has little to do with the actual facts. That is when you talk to your dog although you are really indirectly talking to the other dog owner. "Just stay here by my side" etc.

Also, as Dianerra suggested, teach your dog to look at you away from the other dogs. Your dog might be quietly watching but it may get the dog across the street worked up. Sometimes it is better to keep moving and then turn around and glance back from a distance..the reward of walking with you past the little dog is rewarded by the glance back afterwards.
 

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Many dogs wag their tails while fighting. Wagging tails aren't exclusive to a friendly dog. Wagging tails can be excitement or arousal or other things.

I am not sure when you say the woman spoke of the ridge on your dog's back whether you mean a ridge like in a Rhodesian Ridgeback or do you mean your dog's hair was raised?

Personally, I don't own a small breed dog. My dogs won't hurt it...deliberately, but stepping on one or tripping over one can have severe, negative consequences. The woman was rightfully concerned about her dog's health and welfare if your dog were to get loose.

I don't view the woman's comments as judgmental. I see them as being protective and concerned for her small breed dog in the face of potential danger. She doesn't need to know your dog. She just needs to know what a large breed dog is capable of doing to a small breed dog, intentional or not. She is entitled to assess the risk factor based on the negative experiences of others and little dogs do suffer much from the bad behavior of larger breed dogs. It is no accident that dog parks have separate areas for large breed dogs and small breed dogs. It was based on actual statistics of the dangers of small breed dogs running together with large breed dogs.

Perhaps the stern looks on the faces of people with little yapping, out of control dogs is all about their own dog's bad behavior and not the presence of your dog.
 

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Smile, say "thanks for letting me know, that's very interesting" and wave to her in a friendly way next time you see her.

If your dog has off-leash control, you could tell her that your dog is under verbal control on or off leash, so if your dog did "get away" she would still be voice controlled... or not. I'd just thank her for the communication- in as sincere a way as possible, and move on.

It's one of those battles you won't be able to win, and where fighting it will just stress you out.
 

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It's irritating for sure.I would either totally ignore them or give them a big smile and "No worries!Have a good one!"
depending on my mood at the time:)
The last time Samson and I were given the stink eye was at Tractor Supply waiting for rabies shots in line with a few small dog owners.The little guys were curious and were trying to move a little closer for a sniff,and the owners scooped them up or stood way back.One man said "Whoa Fluffy,that big dog will eat you!" I began a conversation with them about how Sammy was so good with small dogs that we would use him at my dog club to help desensitize the little ones who were leery of large dogs.As we talked they all relaxed more and Fluffy's owner let her get a little closer and sniff.Samson was great,he sat next to me and glanced at Fluffy then ignored her.
Since we were all stuck together I decided to try and make the best of it.So I guess it depends on the situation:)
 

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You don’t want my advice. I’ve dealt with too many people nosing into my business. I either straight out ignore them, or have a sarcastic comment coming out of my mouth before I even realize what I’m saying. I probably need much more training than any dog I’ve had to properly deal with intrusive humans. My dogs are much more well behaved than me.
 

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Wagging tail...


I just tell people to have a nice day and move on, physically and mentally.
 

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Hello Carol.. I walk my little GSD puppy. He just turned 4 months, and I do get afraid when I see a bigger "bully" looking dog staring at my puppy. Matter of fact, I get more afraid when I see tail wagging because it could be sign of challenge. I usually don't say anything to people, but this one guy has a large pitbull looking dog. He has a very very big leash on him, and I told the owner to keep him away from my puppy because he looks dead serious at him with wagging tail.
 

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Irritating isn't it when others feel it necessary to tell you how they feel about your dog or anything else when no one asked them.
For a little two letter word, "IF" has a very big meaning. I respect the woman's fear for her little dog around big dogs. However, if she was across a street and the big dog was leashed she really didn't need to say anything.
My response probably would depended on the mood I was in. Either would have smiled and said nothing, ignored and kept moving or maybe come back with a snarky comment about how "IF" your little obnoxious ankle bitter were to get loose it might bite me and I'd have to kick it into the street.
It's a shame that with or without reason small dog owners feel it necessary to make large dog owners or owners of certain breeds feel like they don't have a right to be out in the world walking on leash getting exercise and enjoying a good life.

When we're out walking people cross the street all the time. I will do so as well if I see fit as I how my dog will react to certain situations. I don't care. Actually, if they want to cross the street it's all good with me. More space and comfort for me and my dog.
 

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I rarely get outspoken judgement from others, because no one wants to get close enough to say anything when I’m out walking Ryka, lol.


When those things happen, I definitely agree with just acknowledging it and walking away. At the end of the day, that person feels so strongly about something that they feel the need to share. Sometimes when people say things like that, I ask them if something has happened in the past to make them feel that way, and often it has. It makes people on edge, and that’s kind of just part of having a breed that’s sensationalized as a protection/guard breed by the media.

Personally I don’t mind people thinking my dog is a force to be reckoned with. I’m a small female. My favourite experience was when I was walking my dog past a car with a group of men smoking and chatting it up with each other. As soon as I got close with Ryka, they all stepped off the sidewalk and went quiet, watching Ryka carefully and respecting our space - likely out of fear, lol! It also encourages people who keep their dogs off leash to attach their dogs again when we come by. I’ve had a lot of people look up, see her, and immediately get their dog under control because she looks intimidating to them.

I can’t wait until my male pup is full grown... I’m going to have streets and parks just to myself, lol!
 

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She is telling you her truth. She would be frightened if your dog got loose.

Once upon a time, a very big man had gotten out of his car in a parking lot, and I was walking a very black, 4 month old puppy. His ears were up, so he looked a little bigger. The man shouted across the parking lot, DOES HE BITE?!? or something like that. I wrote about it here 13 years ago, and I was miffed. I responded with, "He's a puppy!" The man was very frightened, and I was miffed. I think Sit,Stay responded that something to the effect that he is scared, and don't make fun of him for being scared. It could have been someone else though.

Yesterday I saw a meme that had a figure of a person on two sides of a paper -- four scenarios so eight responses: tell me you don't like, me; I don't care. tell me I'm stupid: I don't care. Tell me I'm ugly; I don't care. Tell me my dog is ugly; KILL!!!

I think it is normal to be irritated when someone sees our critter as dangerous or stupid or fat or having nails that are too long, or misbehaved or so many other things.

At the same time, sometimes our dogs are dangerous, or stupid, or fat, or their nails are too long, or they are misbehaving. I think that with the exception of being stupid, we should try to look at our dogs through the other's eyes and try to see what makes them think the dog is dangerous or fat or whatever. Because we can be very blind to our own critter, especially negative stuff. Then, if there is something that we can do, we should go ahead and do it, maybe the dog does need to lose a few pounds, maybe the dog does need some training. Just because we feel it rude to point out something about our dog, doesn't mean that we can't use that information to our benefit, to our dog's benefit.

What to say, well, in your case, I would say, "I would be afraid too, if your dog got loose." And walk away. The message is pretty clear, if you don't want my dog to tear up your dog, keep your dog under wraps.

Now as to dangerous. You have mixture of three formidable breeds. GSDs are bred for aggression to predators of both humans and animals. Ridgebacks were bred to hunt lions in Africa. Chows are dogs bred in China I think, I don't know what their original purpose was, but they have a really negative reputation, not much different from GSDs. I think part of owning formidable dogs is understanding what they are capable of (no -- oh, he wouldn't hurt a flea, baloney), and understanding that other people may be anxious about your dog, either for themselves or their dogs. It is a price you pay for having that dog.

Lastly, my black puppy, who was really a blanket black and tan dog, but he was one of the sweetest dogs ever. People were afraid of him. I had a thread, about why everyone hates Rush. Where my girls, were not as outwardly willing to have pets from strangers, and everyone would rush them to pet them. What we know about our dogs, other people just don't, and sometimes that can be frustrating, and sometimes that is just OK.
 

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We had had two recent encounters with loose dogs in the nearby state park, one being aggressive. On a subsequent walk the path we were on ran parallel to another before coming together at the trail head.

We were done with our hike and almost to the trailhead when I spotted a guy walking his dog on that parallel trail, he had just started out and he saw me as well. I spoke out for him to leash his dog with a short pause he replied. Not understanding what he said I yelled out for him to leash his dog again and he quickly responded still making no sense. My wife catches up and I tell her there is a guy with a dog over there and I'm trying to get him to leash his dog, she takes up both leashes and I walk his way to tell him to leash up already. Come to find out his hearing was as bad as mine and we were both yelling the same thing at each other. lol! My wife thought it was hilarious.
 

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Yesterday I was hiking with a friend who knows and loves my dogs. She said that my tervuren- now about 18 months old- was starting to look more formidable to her. Not that she was at all afraid or worried- my dogs love her and vice versa- but just to say that she's maturing into an adult dog. It was good for me to hear that- this dog is very sweet and social but when someone who is a friend tells me that she looks 'scary' to an average person, that's good motivation to always make sure she is under complete control around strangers- even if I know she is friendly.

I wouldn't really care if a stranger told me this, but chatting about it with a good friend was interesting. A 'normal' person often does see GSD or GSD-types as scary, and we as GSD owners should understand that without getting offended.

That's OK, but it's also important to remember when out in public. All we can do is control our dogs. We can't control what people think.

I also meet plenty of people - mostly younger folks- who just want to love on my dogs, and tell me how well behaved and beautiful they are, so it goes both ways. I probably get far more positive comments than negative (most people just don't comment at all, which is fine).

For the negative folks, as I said, smile, say hello/goodbye and move on. Going into a long explanation of your dog's training and temperament, etc. is going to get you nowhere.
 

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Dogs tail wag do not always mean they are friendly even if they look curious and what to greet. A slow little wag can mean some trouble making. If your dog was not paying any attention to the little dog at all I would find this a bit more puzzling that she said this. If your dog looked alert and focused on the little dog and she was concerned why would she not say something? As long as she was not screaming at and yelling I would not mind. I would be happy for her to stay over there lol.
 

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I'd be ticked off if someone with a little dog and a little dog complex yelled from across the street about my dog that was on a leash. I'm sure I would've just waved and said something sarcastic.
 

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I've been on the flip side of this, with large dogs lunging and snarling at us while owner says mildly, "Now now, bad boy..." (!!)
So a dog sitting and on leash while we passed, I would think, "That's a well-trained dog."

After passing gazillions of dogs...nothing really registers with us anymore...
I've had people run up their driveways clutching their small dogs when we approach! (talk about overreactions)
I probably would have said to the lady, "I always keep him on leash. But he's actually very polite with small dogs" (the truth, I've seen it multiple times, he sniffs them like they are made of glass).

People who begin sentences with, "I know dogs...." - that does irk me a bit!
 

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People are afraid of my all black dog. They should be more afraid of my little Black and Tan. I fostered full bred Ridgebacks for a while before I decided they were not a match for our needs. Ridgebacks have some similarities to Germans Shepherds. They are aloof, single owner dogs and they make good watch dogs. They are not supposed to be human aggressive but they are formidable, although I had one that was aggressive toward certain personalities. I can’t quite picture what your exact mix looks like, but I never had anyone say the ridges scared them and I took the dogs out a lot. I wanted them to be seen by as many possible adopters as I could.
 

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I personally don't care what some random person thinks about my dog, or anything else for that matter LOL! So I would have either said something like "ok then", or nothing at all, and never given it another thought!

Why give them any power at all? Brush it off and enjoy your day!
 
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