WOOF: Am I Afraid?

I bet you’re thinking: Sage? Never! There’s never a mud-puddle she doesn’t like. 🙂  But, yes. I have to admit there are situations where I am afraid.


You can turn the water off now, Mom

I don’t often do the snarling, lunging, I’m-gonna-get-you type of afraid, but every once in a while that behavior comes out–usually when Mom least expects it. Like when we’ve just walked out the front door and another dog walks by. I scream: THIS IS MY HOUSE AND I’M THE PROTECTOR OF ALL!  

If Mom is ready with a treat and keeps holding it while I try to eat it, it doesn’t happen. Mom says it’s ‘distraction’. I say it’s…..um, ‘distraction’. Or when we walk by a certain house and the dog rushes the fence at me–YOWZIE–I don’t even like to see this dog when we meet on the street now. I’m embarrassed to say I’m a snarling, lunging mess. We don’t go by that house any more–or at least we cross the street before we get to it.

I think my biggest fear is being around a lot of dogs in a confined space–like a dog park. It all started when I was about 17-months old. We had been going to an indoor dog park ever since I was a wee lass and I loved it. But I started becoming more aware of what was going on–dogs loudly wrestling; a fight or two; and the constant in-your-face behavior when we tried to go into the park.


So, I put my foot down. Well, all four of them, to be exact. NO MORE.

Then, I was bullied at another park by a nasty, in-your-face dog. He just wouldn’t stop barking at my face. I got so scared I ran across the street into someone’s garage. Mom was SOOOOOO mad at the other dog’s owner.

Mom here: There are lots of dog parks where we live, but many dog owners are either not in control of their dog or they have no clue about dog etiquette. The only places we now go are those with wide open spaces where Sage doesn’t feel trapped. She excels there and is enormously happy.  

I guess the main theme of my fears is other dogs. I’m comfortable with my buds after I get to know them. But I was even afraid in my agility class when we first went to a group setting with just me and two other dogs–I hid under Mom’s chair. But now? Wow, I love going! It just took a while to realize that no one was going to attack me.

Mom here: Sage definitely exhibits some fear-aggression at times when she feels trapped, especially in small, enclosed spaces. It’s normally exhibited in the flight, rather than the fight, response. Often she just shuts down and stands behind me–I definitely try to avoid the “flight” part (fortunately she doesn’t go far and comes right to me). If we can’t avoid a situation, I use treats, or, if we’re out walking in the neighborhood and encounter another dog, we just sit and wait until they pass. 

WOOFBlogHop1_150This is the WOOF Support Blog Hop, where reactive dogs and their owners can come together to share similar experiences.  Are you a reactive/fearful dog or its owner?  Then please join us and share your story.  The Blog Hop is open through Sunday, February 16th and is co-hosted by Oz the TerrierRoxy The Traveling Dog and Wag ‘n Woof Pets blogs.

13 thoughts on “WOOF: Am I Afraid?

  1. Oh Sagey, I hate to hear that you get so afraid. I agree that other dog owners in dog parks are clueless about proper doggie etiquette and that makes it hard for a lot of doggies. The treats have started working for me, with the command “Look”. I can get past small dogs now…those big ones though, they are another story. Thanks for joining my first WOOF hop!
    *Cairn cuddles*


  2. It is ok to be afraid and be careful. It took me along time to get over being in a shelter and learn to get along other dogs. But some other dogs are not trained to be polite like you so there is always a risk. Trust your person to help


  3. Totally understand, Sage. Your fear guides you to protect yourself. Max, missing a paw since birth, was picked on at dog parks and would run and hide under the bench. You’re a sweetheart, Sage, and thank goodness you’re with a family that loves and takes exceptional care of you has been around while you’ve made your good friends and even share mud puddles with them. wag wag


  4. I was surprised to hear that you have some fears, Sage, but it is totally understandable. I’ve always had my doubts about dog parks, because I don’t trust other people to control their dogs. We live in a pretty rural area and don’t really have any nearby yet anyway. It sounds like your Mom has things pretty much under control though, so great job, Mom!
    Thank you so much for joining our hop and sharing your story!


  5. Thanks for sharing your fears, Sage. An indoor dog park sounds so wonderful… in theory! Wouldn’t it be great if all our dogs could play together inside where it doesn’t get dark at 4:30 pm, or muddy, or cold? Maybe it would work if it were a really, really BIG indoor park. We were taking our dogs to the park a lot lately, even in the cold and wet. Leo’s reactivity is very much leash-related, so I don’t worry about him fighting with other dogs off leash. However, he ran toward a jogger the other day. (Honestly! Who jogs through an off-leash dog area without a dog?) He didn’t bark at her or even touch her, but she was obviously scared, so Leo lost his dog-park privileges.


  6. Those are exactly the reasons we don’t get to go to dog parks or take part in group play at the kennel. And when we walk, it is just so hard for Mom when some peeps leave their dogs off leash outside and they come charging at us. Sigh – if only all pet owners had good manners.

    Woos – Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning


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