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Discussion Starter #1
First, some "truisms" about Puff:

Puff is not a dominant dog by any means -- she rarely contests possession of anything with another dog.

She's also friendly around other dogs, wagging her tail and usually wanting to play after exchanging sniffs. When we're walking our neighborhood at her potty times, when other dogs bark as she passes their territory, she doesn't go to see them but stays with me on the sidewalk.

One bad trait is barking at people. For her first 4 years, she barked at my neighbors on each side of our home when they drove in -- barking, running toward them, tail wagging, and then attempting a quick lick on their faces. She's finally stopped doing that but still barks at others passing by on our sidewalk. To me, that's her most irritating characteristic.


So, this morning as usual, Puff and I drove the 2 miles/4 minutes to the huge parking lot where we begin our walk in the nature preserve. About 100-150 yards/90-120 meters away Puff noticed a man walking with his leashed standard size black poodle across the field toward his car.

Puff started barking at them (the poodle?) and moved slightly towards them. I had her leash draped over my neck as always, ready to put on in case we meet other dogs, but she was too far away to do that.

I yelled "Sit" which she's always obeyed but instead she kept barking and moving closer -- me following, demanding "Sit!" "Sit!" and "NO!" to her barks.

The man and his dog got to their car before Puff got close but then Puff refused to come close to me so I could clip on her leash. She'd skitter away as if I was about to hurt her and she had a strange, leery (almost ashamed, guilty) look on her face, ears somewhat pulled back. Never in her life have I slapped, whipped, spanked, etc., her although that was certainly what it looked like she was anticipating and trying to avoid.

I kept demanding that she sit or come to me but Puff kept her distance -- no closer than 40'/35 m.

That lasted for 5 minutes or so.

Finally ("DUH!") I threw her retrieving dummy and she retrieved it and got a few kibbles as reward. After that she was fine and we walked our 2 miles with no further incident.

In over a couple thousand walks in/at the nature preserve nothing like this has happened before. Whenever we've met another dog or people and I tell to sit, she sits, so I can attach her leash.

Any thoughts as to what was happening?

 

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Perhaps she sensed something "wrong/bad" with this person? Hoss has done that to a few people and he is the biggest wienie on earth. But there have been a few people that we have met on walks who he absolutely will not stop barking and growling at
 

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How's her health, Bob? As I know you know (but may not be thinking about right now), oddball behavior can sometimes indicate a medical issue.....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
How's her health, Bob? As I know you know (but may not be thinking about right now), oddball behavior can sometimes indicate a medical issue.....
Her health -- as far as I know -- is fine. But I'll keep my eyes open for any symptoms.

Her behavior this morning brought back to mind a saying that we had in animal learning experimental work in grad school, it was called the "Harvard Law" (after B.F. Skinner, et al., I'm sure) which went something like "Any well-trained experimental animal will, on any given trial, do exactly as it **** well pleases."




 

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Perhaps she sensed something "wrong/bad" with this person?
My first thought as well. Dogs have an amazing sense of character.
 

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I agree that she sensed something wrong. Or most likely smelled something she didn't like. I wonder if the poodle was just a black moving blob to her? I know Buck makes mistakes lately with his eyesight, he'll be 8 this year too. And as for her cowering behaviour, Bob you were probably using your "big boy" voice and she probably doesn't hear that too often so she reacted that way.
 

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"Any well-trained experimental animal will, on any given trial, do exactly as it **** well pleases."
LOL!! Or as our instructor says: We're teaching DOGS here, not programming computers. You can successfully drill an exercise 1000 times, but that's no guarantee that the 1001st time, can't be a disaster.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I agree that she sensed something wrong. Or most likely smelled something she didn't like. I wonder if the poodle was just a black moving blob to her? I know Buck makes mistakes lately with his eyesight, he'll be 8 this year too. And as for her cowering behaviour, Bob you were probably using your "big boy" voice and she probably doesn't hear that too often so she reacted that way.
Puff has surprised me in the past with smelling and reacting to people who were out of sight to us (e.g., 150' away, a man drunk/asleep on a trail that Y'ed into ours) but, in this case, I think not -- because it happened so very quickly -- as soon as we got out of the car and she saw them and, also, because they were so far away 150 yards. Furry poodles DO have a slightly different silhouette than that of many other dogs although Puff has recognized as "dogs" those of MANY different sizes and shapes.

So maybe it was the slightly strange to her poodle shape (big, unclipped & furry) plus operation of the Harvard Law plus the "BB Voice" (or, in this case, the "AD&P" tone -- AD&P = Awfully Disgusted & P*ssed)



 

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Hmm. I agree with the others and think maybe she just sensed something out of the normal. Either that or she thinks the park is hers and was being dominant??

How was the other dog's body language? Just walking normally or was he/she staring Puff down?
 

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I think it's the strange poodle shape. Although the smell would have tipped her off that it was a dog, maybe she was confused with what she saw vs. what she smelled.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
....Either that or she thinks the park is hers and was being dominant??

How was the other dog's body language? Just walking normally or was he/she staring Puff down?
Good point.

Puff could think the park is hers since we've gone there almost every morning (365 x 7) for 7+ years.

The poodle was walking normally (as far as I could tell) and definitely NOT staring down Puff.

 

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Peanut has issues with poodles (and other fluffy-type dogs) at times as their profile can look wonky to a dog (thank you fashion...) and as such their body language is somewhat compromised (i.e, they don't have hackles, ears and tail are often different-looking due to hair style).
 

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black dogs, esp. hairy black dogs - hard to read their expressions from a distance, and if it is groomed with a mane/top knot/puffy back end, that changes the silhouette which changes the apparent body language.


as for her not coming and cowering, she was likely sensing your anger/impatience/stress and reacting accordingly.
 

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I suspect it was the odd Poodle shape that got her. I had one dog who HATED Chow Chows. I was at a show one day talking to a friend while we were waiting to go into the ring. I felt a tugging at the leash but didn't take any notice because I was busy watching the ring. Next thing my friend said "look at your dog!" He was getting stuck into this Chow trying to pull chunks of its hair out. Lucky for him, the dog didn't bite back & the owner thought it was a joke. I certainly wasn't amused & from that day on I had to make sure we kept our distance from every Chow we saw. It was the only breed he ever did it to.

Another embarrassing incident was when Jo was a pup & I took him & my Pug to the beach. My main focus was on Jo because I didn't know how he'd react seeing the sea for the first time. As I was getting their leashes on in the car, my Pug jumped out of the car, ran across the carpark straight into an open car where a lady was eating her lunch. The dog jumped straight onto her lap & wagging his tail as if she was going to feed him. :eek: After the poor woman recovered from the initial shock, she burst out laughing. Once again, I couldn't see the joke at the time but every time I think about it now, it always puts a smile on my face. :D

The things they put us through! :D

Bad girl Puff! :D
 

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I concur with what has been said on here already. Might be a vision change and that she can not see clearly what she is looking at only detecting the movement...dogs will often warn first and ask questions later. Depends on the behavior that Puff was putting out....do you think she was trying to create distance between you by making the other dog and person go away or perhaps she was alerting to her presence by barking. Maybe she was moving towards them to get a scent detection and also she could then convey her body language to the foreign dog and person...friend or foe? She could then react accordingly....dogs sometimes bark when they are uncertain (or feeling insecure) of the situation.

Could also be dominance her park her space. Did not like how the person was moving or dog looked odd to her.

I think it was probably her not being able to get a 'read' on the situation so she wanted to alert to the possible threat and then get some more information via getting closer. She did not mind you because she just had something more important that she needed to do and she needed to check things out.

Are you the same? Are you getting around the same and are in good health? Maybe for some reason she feels she needs to be more protective of you?

It could be a number or things but without knowing Puff and the situation one can only speculate and guess...so you have my two cents worth of speculation :)

If it becomes habit that she does not listen to your commands off leash or she seems to not be able to hear you when called then I'd be a little concerned for safety while off leash. Just so that she does not go up to a strange dog especially if you do not know her intent....nothing worse than having to make an emergency trip to the vet.

Again we have to remind ourselves also that they are dogs hence animals which can surprise us sometimes and do the unpredictable....maybe it was just one of those 'rare' moments. It's the rare moments that have really scared the pants off of me and almost caused a heart attack....I know I've had a couple with Sandy...glad "I" learn quickly when it comes to him.
 

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Way too funny!!!

Another embarrassing incident was when Jo was a pup & I took him & my Pug to the beach. My main focus was on Jo because I didn't know how he'd react seeing the sea for the first time. As I was getting their leashes on in the car, my Pug jumped out of the car, ran across the carpark straight into an open car where a lady was eating her lunch. The dog jumped straight onto her lap & wagging his tail as if she was going to feed him. :eek: After the poor woman recovered from the initial shock, she burst out laughing. Once again, I couldn't see the joke at the time but every time I think about it now, it always puts a smile on my face. :D
I know it must've been scary at the time but that story really cracked me up....guess because I have a Minpin that is a food thief and I could see her trying something like but only thing is she might not be that bold....she is a little timid

The Pug must've looked hilarious...I would be surprised that the pug could jump that high....truly amazing....I'm still laughing. :D
 

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I don't know what triggered this behavior in Puff, but that's exactly what Duke does if I ever let him off leash outside the fenced yard. Inside the yard, he always comes when called. I always thought that his yard gives him a feeling of security that he doesn't have outside his territory.
 

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An eye check (CERF) may not be a bad idea with her age...

That said, I have a neighbor who walks her pack of not so nice dogs every day, twice a day around the "neighborhood" (rural) off lead and they truly think they own it. It's a problem... I was very close last year to stringing a hot wire on my front fence to let them know in no uncertain terms that no, they do NOT own the whole neighborhood. Finally the woman got the message and has changed at least that part of her route but I still call my dogs in every am and pm if they are out as soon as I hear her crazy one start to bark-- he barks for the first 1/2 mile at least. Guess who is in control? Surely not the owner. :(

I think that's my message. Make sure Puff knows who is truly in control before this becomes an issue you don't want to deal with. Anne
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for all the ideas.

I doubt it's her eyesight -- my vision is quite good and hers is far better. She continually amazes me when she focuses intently on a very distant person walking on the Shunga Trail sidewalk and then, with some straining, I finally see there's a small "dust mop" type dog walking with him.

And, as far as I know, my health remains excellent.

Puff does think it's her annointed duty to bark at anything strange in 'her territory.'

On this morning's walk it was drizzling all morning so I chose paths that wouldn't be too wet or muddy. On our return to the car we walked across the soccer fields, past the shelter house under which our friend, Ron Trussheim, the bicycling homeless vet sleeps when there's inclement weather.

Puff bounded over toward him (bundled in his sleeping bag) as usual but then detoured to another bundled figure on a bench and started barking. The bundled figure rose up halfway to see what was causing the ruckus -- it wasn't Ron, it was someone else. Ron also rose part way and called Puff to him and she went, tail wagging, but still facing the stranger. Ron laughed as he petted her and told his friend that Puff used to treat him the same way until they became friends.

Hopefully, I won't have to worry about this much longer.

I have two Dogtra 200 NCP e-collars, one for everyday use and one as an emergency back-up which I bought to have more effective control in just such situations. I haven't used them for a year and they both need minor repairs. So last week I sent both to the factory for refurbishing, just in case. They should be returning, maybe sometime next week.

FWIW, I adjust the stim (shock) level to 20% intensity on its scale, a level that's effective with Puff but which I can just barely feel through my fingertips. And when using that stim, I only use it on the "Nick" (brief instant) setting and, at that, only when she's ignored the "Pager" (vibrating buzzer) which I always give first.

Puff has been so generally responsive and obedient, I didn't think sending them both for repairs at the same time would be a factor.

Obviously, Puff must've seen me wrapping and mailing them and thought whatever is the Lab equivalent of "when the cat's away, the mice will play" -- maybe something like "when that collar's away, I don't have to obey?" :D <Just kidding>

 
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