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Don’t get a dog, if you are scared of other dogs

What makes someone a "dog person"? Personally, while I like dogs and we have two (large and smaller bread), I wouldn't consider myself one. However, I am definitely not afraid of dogs. This leads me to wonder why someone would get a dog if they are scared of other dogs.

This year, I encountered two almost identical situations during my walks with a larger dog. In both instances, it was evident that the other dog's owner was terrified of the encounter. To clarify, we don't have a "guard dog"—our chocolate lab is more accurately described as a "welcoming dog." As I walk usually in places where not many people walk, the dog is usually off the leash. Having said that, I never had problem to control it, either using a command, or remote stimulation (if needed).

While I do acknowledge handling of a larger dog might be a challenge (especially if you are not 6' 3" as I am), it's not situation to panic over. In both cases it was apparent the owners were anxious well before our dogs met. How could I tell? They were not only anxious, but focused on wrong things. Like holding the phone in their hand to turn on the light (while not being completely dark), trying to avoiding us and making it more difficult as it was quite muddy or simply being tense and trying to avoid the encounter at all costs. Interestingly, both were owners of "guard dogs."

And in both cases, there was usually a trigger that caused the incident. Clearly, allowing the dogs to get too close is not ideal (and I admit I should have released my dog much later in the second instance), but I still prefer just to pass in safe distance where you can control the dog. But it's very difficult to intervene if the owner is scared. In the first case, an owner used their dog as a shield (why?), and in the second, the owner literally tried to ran away (without making it into fun for a dog).

That's when the "contact" happened. Nevertheless, separating the dogs in both situations was a matter of seconds. However, it was the owners who failed to pay attention to their dogs—who were acting defensively—and instead became hysterical, exploding with insults and screams, fearing my dog was "a killer," which is quite amusing on it's own. Of course, even a chocolate lab is still a dog and has its reflexes. But one must be prepared and not afraid to step in and resolve the situation.

This is in stark contrast to other encounters where we (both owners) assess whether it's okay to let our dogs play together. Sometimes it works; other times, it doesn't. That's life. But it's the owners' attitudes that make a difference. Dogs are intelligent and can sense their owner's fear, reacting accordingly. It's a natural response. And yes, there might be barking, there might be snapping. You just need to know what to expect. Be ready to get in the middle of it (yes, I got smaller bites couple times but that comes with the ownership).

Which gets me to the point, if you want to have a large breed and are apprehensive about letting it off the leash at all costs, perhaps getting one isn't the best decision. And it's always better to communicate with others.