To the Owner(s) of the GSD residing at…

“I am writing this to you because your dog scared me out of my wits on Saturday morning and he really scared my own dog when he charged at her from across the street.  The man that came after the dog asserted that the dog was ok and I answered that my dog was not.

In an effort to be very clear let me say that I am a professional dog trainer and I work at a local shelter in the behavior department.  I observe and evaluate dog behavior on a daily basis.  My dog lives with other dogs and cats.  She has dog friends as well.  However, she is very fearful in new situations and nervous around unknown dogs.  I take precautions with her like keeping her on a leash during walks and avoiding situations that may frighten her. 

This is what I observed on Saturday:  While I have no doubt that your dog is a great dog and ‘ok’ in other contexts he was not ‘ok’ during our encounter.  He bolted into the street – he could have been hit by a car! His approach was neither friendly nor playful.  He charged.  My dog is fearful of unknown dogs, so when she is approached like that she offer signals like a tucked tail, a crouch, ears back and a lip lick to ask the other dog to slow down or back away.  Your dog ignored her and stood tall over her, sniffing, tail high.  She then snarked at him as a further warning to back away.  Instead, he retaliated with his own snark and continued to stand tall, and put his head over her face.  She lunged and air snapped, another warning to back away.  He did not and they tussled.  If either of them had the intention of harming the other they would have, so my concern isn’t about that.  If my dog was loose she simply would have fled; I did not try to leave because I did not want your dog to give chase or end up in the street again.  As we walk past his house on a regular basis I suspect he may have been protecting his turf.  He is entitled to do that, just as my dog is permitted to ask a rude dog to behave more appropriately.  As I will continue to take my dog on daily walks I am hoping that you will consider managing the situation so that your dog can not get loose and perhaps you can train your dog to respond to a recall.

This is precisely why we have leash laws in Buffalo.  Laws that apparently don’t apply to you and your dog. Why?  I noticed you have a small child in your house.   Why would you NOT want your dog, that child and other people and animals to feel safe, to be safe?  If I was frightened by your dog’s charge can you imagine how someone who does not know dogs the way I do would feel if they were on the receiving end of that charge?

I am very sad for my dog.  This is a set back for her.  Learning to trust strange dogs is not easy for her and now she has had an experience that might make it even more difficult.  How do I show her that that walking down our block is not scary?  I am worried for your dog.  He could have been hit by a car!!!  Most of all I wish that I could just take my dog on a walk and not have to worry about your cluelessness.

I wish I could actually write this in a letter to you and mail it.  I am not comfortable with that.  I can only hope that you got as scared as I did and will take the necessary precautions so that neither of us has to be that scared again.”

Until next time.