by Doris Donnerman
(last updated February 17, 2009)
My grandma is a friendly and amiable person, as I'm sure many grandmothers are. One time around the holidays, she was taking a stroll around the neighborhood delivering Christmas treats to her neighbors. Keep in mind that she can't see very well, and was going about her treat delivery business anyway, and when approaching the door of one of her neighbors, a huge German shepherd bounded out of the door and leapt up on her. She fell down, and miraculously managed to get back outside of the gate, shutting it behind her. The dog bit her, and while his teeth didn't pierce her coat, the force was strong enough to break the skin underneath her coat and sweater. She's lucky she managed to escape, otherwise she could have been seriously injured.
There is nothing amusing about aggressive dogs. They are always potentially dangerous and no dog can be 100 percent trusted. It is the full responsibility of the dog owner to make sure the dog isn't a menace, especially for kind, elderly neighbors. However, if your dog misbehaves in a non-threatening manner around a new baby, the postman or anyone else, you may be able to modify its behavior with positive reinforcement. You might try showering it with attention and treats when the disliked person is present. The dog may gradually begin to enjoy the person's presence.
Another situation where you might come across an aggressive dog is when coming across a dog fight. What do you do? Don't yell at the dogs; instead make a loud noise like pressing your car horn, ringing a bell, or beating on a frying pan. If this fails, douse the combatants with a hose or with buckets of water. Never try to pull them apart as you may well become the center of attention and end up getting bitten.
Aggressive dogs should not be taken lightly and you should do whatever is in your power to take control of an aggressive dog situation. Make sure that you stay in control of the situation and don't try anything you're not sure about. In most cases, the aggressiveness can be avoided, or the owner will be nearby to quell any potential conflict, but you should keep your eyes and ears open for a threat.
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