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From: Callie (
Subject:         The things they sniff are almost beyond understanding
Date: September 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm PST

In Reply to: Re: long nails posted by gloria on September 15, 2009 at 9:40 pm:

Don't think that when they "sniff" each other that they are merely sniffing male/female stuff. It is FAR FAR FAR beyond that.

First of all -- it is not at all unusual for a female to be protective of her hindquarters -- particularly with a rudely inquisitive male -- **especially** an un-neutered male (a male who is still intact). The fact that he is still intact (remember only females are 'spayed' -- males that have had the testes removed are said to be 'neutered').

When a male has not been neutered, they have testosterone that is stored in the testes ... and it can make them a bit more aggressive or dominant.

However, even a spayed female is likely to let a male know when she doesn't want to be bothered or sniffed that way. Males may be bigger and stronger, but very often it is the females who tell the males in a "pack" what to do. He may be the brawn that "protects" but she's likely going to tell him when and where to do so.

Apparently this male wasn't smart enough or polite enough to take her initial reticence as a polite "no" and she had to snap at him in order to make her point.

My suggestion to you would be to READ READ READ. Get a book like Dr. Stanley Coren's "How to Speak Dog" -- it will give you much information about how to 'read' what your dog is really saying.

I can promise you -- that your dog "said" much to this male BEFORE she snapped. He simply wasn't taking 'no' for an answer.

Things like how rigid a dog stands, the position of their ear and tail, and even how wide open or narrow their eyes are -- ALL these things will tell you how a dog is feeling ... and even when a snap may be imminent.

Apologise? It wouldn't be bad -- but I would phrase it like this "I'm sorry I missed my dog's signals. She apparently was not comfortable with your dog and with his repeated sniffing of her hindquarters. She felt threatened and I didn't see it quickly enough to avert her snapping. However, let's keep both of them on a shorter leash in future.

Any time you have your dog with you, it honestly should be leashed in order to control it 100%. Teaching her to "sit" next to you while you speak to someone is wise.

But always always watch your own dog as well as the other dog. If you have your dog with you, honestly that **must** be your primary concern. WAtching how she responds to another dog, and watching that other dog's signals are far too important to lose track of just because you are talking.

We ALL have to be 100% aware ALL the time when we have our dogs out.

A week ago today, a friend of mine had her little terrier mix (he's a jack russell/something mix -- maybe 18 pounds - sturdy but not big) out on a walk.

As they were walking (she wasn't speaking with someone -- she was walking down the street with Pi, with her other dog who is elderly,in a stroller) -- a larger, stronger dog jumped OUT of a car, raced to them and attacked her dog.

This bigger dog pinned Pi to the ground biting above and below his neck on the left side. Pirate is a sturdy little dog fortunately or the bigger dog would just have crushed his neck and killed him instantly.

As it was the dog was trying to get enough grip to pick Pi up and shake him to kill him. (This was a SAVAGE attack -- this dog meant to kill)

Megan kicked repeatedly at this dog's stomach until she could finally get the dog to release Pirate and she bent down to pick Pirate up and the dog bit her hand/arm as it endeavored to lock back on to Pirate.

The owner NEVER left his car in all this. He just watched. He was apparently afraid of his own dog.

Only as she held her dog high in the air, still kicking at this dog, and made a SHOW OF MEMORIZING THIS GUY'S LICENSE PLACE -- did his dog finally run off and he THEN got out of the car.

She was brave in what she did -- she relentlessly kicked this bigger dog to make him release her dog. She called the police on her cell phone and called for paramedics (she and Pirate were both bleeding badly.)

but even as dog saavey as she is she did NOT see this coming in time. Had she been talking with someone or giving Pirate less than her full attention he likely would be dead.

No matter whether it's a bigger dog or smaller dog coming up to YOUR dog -- you have to have your attention on them. And the more you learn about a dog's body language -- the better able you will be to discern an 'attack' from a "snap".

But if this dog was sniffing YOUR dog ... and your dog snapped -- then both you and the other owner were missing signals. Dog's don't usually just "snap" first -- their behavior between each other tends to be complex -- and it can be fast.

But next time, if you know the cues that say your dog is NOT appreciating being sniffed. YOU can shorten your leash and walk away, saying "I need to get a safe distance between my dog and yours. Please shorten his leash before we have a problem. She's not comfortable."

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