Dear Daisy Dog
While friends and I were at a bar, a seemingly good-natured, medium-sized dog wandered by our table. As we were leaving, I glanced at the dog and said, jokingly, to my friends, “Watch out for the nice attack dog.” Immediately, the dog growled, lunged and snapped at my foot, but didn’t make contact.
Was he trained to attack when he heard that word? I didn’t stare at him, but did I trigger the attack just by looking at him? What did I do wrong?
You did nothing wrong, but the dog sure did. Dogs like this should not be walking around in public without a leash – and a muzzle.
Police dogs are not trained to respond to the word “attack,” so you didn’t provoke the incident by saying that word.
A normal dog doesn’t attack people who simply look at him. We dogs perceive a long, direct stare as threatening, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what you did.
Instead, the dog’s sterilization status probably played a role in his behavior. Statistics show that unsterilized dogs, both male and female, are more likely to bite than those that have been neutered or spayed.
Sterilization status aside, the dog was undoubtedly poorly socialized.
If you return to the bar and the dog is there, ask the owner to remove him. Remind the owners of the dog and the bar of their liability if the dog bites or even scares someone who then falls and is injured.