Monday, October 18, 2010

Tiny dog, big attitude: How your attacking dog could get hurt

Liam the pug recovering from the chihuahua attack

For the past two days, Liam and I have had our afternoon walk punctuated by an attack of Lola the Crazed Chihuahua. Liam has tags that jangle, so I am certain Lola could hear us from blocks away, and this just brought out the worst in her.

This is not terribly surprising: Many Chihuahuas are known for being territorial, aggressive and unfriendly toward other dogs.

Lola does have an early alert system: Her owners yell her name repeatedly when she hears another dog and begins to bolt from the yard. Both yesterday and today, I had enough time to pick Liam up before she rounded the corner. Her owners came out after her, picked her up, and away Liam and I went, with no harm to either party.

But these episodes worry me. Lola is about 3 pounds, and she's not very confident. She ended both barking episodes with her tummy flat to the ground, ears flat. Liam weighs in at about 24 pounds. He could whip her in a heartbeat (although he would be unlikely to), especially since she was flattened to the ground, ready to give in. I figured that picking him up was easier than paying for a visit to the vet for either party. 

But what if I had a Doberman or a Mastiff on the end of the leash? I couldn't have picked something like that up, and perhaps I couldn't have pulled it back from chasing her. Would Lola have survived the encounter? Since she has done this on two separate days, maybe this is normal behavior. Perhaps she has learned to submit when she feels outmatched. But I worry that her owners are setting her up to learn a difficult, and costly, lesson.

One day, I fear, she will charge something much too big, or too angry, to be restrained from having the fight she seems to want so badly.

If you have an aggressive dog, no matter how small, please keep it on a leash or securely in your yard. Not all dogs walking by are friendly, and not all owners will pick up their dogs to save your dog from a fight.

Liam and I thank you, in advance, for your cooperation.

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