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September 30, 2011

Puppy Problems Solved 4: Winnie learns about other dogs

by Val Reynolds
Winnie, left, in playful mood

Winnie, left, in playful mood

Written from Winnie’s point of view

We’re out in my favourite woods for a lovely walk. I love coming here, I never get tired of it, there’s so many interesting things to sniff at and play with.  Lots of rabbit trails to follow, other people to say hello to and loads of other dogs that are so friendly!

I like Claire’s other friend who has come with us today.  She likes playing with me too.

Ooh, what’s that amazing smell?! I’ll just follow it into these bushes. This is so much fun.

Hang on, I’d better go and find Claire again, she’ll get worried if I disappear – I don’t want to lose her!

Oh, there she is, she’s waiting for me.

Winnie! Here girl!

Here I am! Don’t worry I didn’t go far! Scratch my ears … but wait, there’s something else to smell here … this is interesting …

What’s that coming towards me? It must be a friendly animal to play with.

Aaagghghg! Whine … ouch, that hurts, why is this dog biting me, I thought all dogs liked to play with me … ouch, ouch, whine …

Why won’t someone help me!? I can’t shake this dog off me at all, he’s biting into my neck!

Claire and her friend are helping now, I hope they don’t get bitten too! Oh and a man is helping, he’s pulled his dog off. Thank goodness, that hurt so much.

Claire, I need a cuddle, I’ll cower behind your legs. Please protect me! That was very frightening.

It’s okay Winnie.

A nice cuddle, thank you Claire. My heart is racing, I’m so scared – at least that horrible dog has gone. I didn’t realise some of them weren’t very friendly!  All the dogs I’ve met so far have been really nice to me and wanted to play, not attack me – and I didn’t even do anything, I was just walking along, minding my own business!

I don’t understand …

Claire’s putting my lead on and we’re heading back to the car.  Thank goodness. I hope that dog doesn’t come here very often, I’ve never seen him before, but it makes me a bit scared. Perhaps I should be more on my guard in future.

Comment from Owner Claire Price: Winnie was attacked by a bull dog, it seemed to appear from nowhere and just launched itself at her.  I had my small daughter on my back in a carrier at the time and the dog’s owner was walking with children too.  It was a very scary moment, the family were very apologetic and fortunately no harm was done, it was more frightening for Winnie. She’s always been a bit dense about other dogs until this incident, she was always very friendly and wanting to play, but from then on she learnt to be a bit more circumspect and give dogs a bit of a space.


Although moving away from my area of expertise (breeding) a few comments may be helpful.

  • Don’t put your own safety at risk or the safety of others, especially children.
  • Some breeds – usually “bull” breeds have an interlocking jaw. These breeds cannot be pulled off as their bite allows them to hold fast to whatever piece of the “prey” they are holding, i.e. flesh/ear tips/tail etc. One hopes that the owners of such dogs will walk them with a muzzle firmly in place.
  • Resist the temptation to smack the biting dog. This only serves to further increase the adrenalin.
  • Although it happened to Winnie, it is unusual for a dog to launch an attack without giving off signals – tail held erect, hackles rising, maybe a growl or snarl. This gives you a minute to put your dog on a lead and (if possible) change direction.
  • If puncture wounds are suffered – either to you or your dog – go to the appropriate medical centre. Dogs carry a huge amount of bacteria on their teeth and a puncture wound allows this bacteria to enter the blood stream. Usually (after bathing/stitching) it is antibiotics for dogs and a tetanus injection for people.
  • If the fight was serious, inform the Police. Although unlikely to act on a “dog-to-dog” fight, if enough people complain about a certain dog, then the Police may – at the very least – have a word with the owner. The Control of Dogs Act give the Police the authority to investigate.
  • The “attacked” dog may have various reactions ranging from couldn’t care less to extreme fear. It may be necessary to ensure that only friendly dogs are encountered on the next few walks, until confidence returns.
  • If problems remain, then contact a dog behavourist who should be able to help.

Pat Thomas bred her first litter in 1971 and has bred Border Collies, Irish Setters, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Papillions, Labradors and, of course, Golden Retrievers.

Although Winnie is not yet in season most of her litter is booked. This is usually the case, although too many of one sex can be a problem. As a Kennel Club Accredited Breeder, Pat has free access to the K.C. website and if she have any puppies not sold, she puts them on there. However, mostly the pups are sold by word of mouth and families returning for a second, third and even a fourth puppy.

Have you ever experienced a dog attack? How did you cope? Would you like to write about it. You can email me at

This feature is the fourth in a series of seven episodes entitled Winnie’s Woes 

Episode 1: Winnie finds Digging is not Popular
Episode 2: Winnie Chews a Shoe
Episode 3: Winnie Eats Too Much

Anythingdogz – an excellent website owned and run by Lisa Evans, an In Balance reader

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