Dog Sticks and Yip-dogs

I’m not sure which was worse: the irritating ankle-biter of a dog or its owner. The season was summer, the hour very early, since I had to be finished with my walk before the sun finished rising.* I was walking at a brisk clip up a main street, watching traffic and contemplating various things, like why dryer exhaust always smells the same, and why that one house just had to bake bread when I was walking past and tempt me.

I glanced to my right and saw motion as a woman opened her front door, I presume to step outside and pick up the newspaper reposing on her driveway.

“Yip, yipe, yip!” A small, furry missile shot out of the door, aimed straight at me.

I did not have a stick. What I did have was sturdy canvas work pants, which saved my ankles (and thus the dogette.) The thing chased me, biting at my lower legs. Its owner stood on her stoop and called in the most pathetic, whining voice, “Dog, bad dog! Come back dog! Dog, come back!” She was not frail or elderly that I could see, so why she did not come to remove the hair-covered pest I do not know. Nor did I ask. I did contemplating stopping long enough to apply sufficient force with my foot to send said yippster well into the street. However, I refrained, since its teeth were not able to penetrate my trouser cuffs and there was a witness. At last I got far enough from the house that the little beast decided to stop. All the while, its owner called with pathetic desperation, “Dog, come back! Dog!”

Large dogs can be dangerous. You’ve read of my encounter with the [thanks be to G-d] overly friendly pit-bulls. I’ve also been swarmed by a trio of Great Dane crosses while their owner worked in his garage on the other side of the street, oblivious to my calls that he call them off (they surrounded me and I had to stop. They crowded closer, not friendly but not totally hostile either. They were all taller at the shoulder than my waist.) But I really do not care for small, poorly trained yippy yappy dogs.

There was a very nasty Chihuahua-cross in Flat State that delighted in chasing children into a main street that was also a state highway. It tried that with me a few times, as its owners sat in their yard and laughed. I loaded a squirt gun with one part ammonia, four parts water, and returned fire. After the second dousing, the dog started leaving me alone. A month later, it disappeared. Based on forensic evidence, it got hit by a car and animal control promptly disposed of the remains. The owners posted signs and went door to door, but no one had seen a thing.

I felt a little sorry for the dog, because obviously it had never been trained properly. I had no sympathy for the owners, who thought forcing kids into the street in front of semis was funny.

Thus, I am all in favor of dog-dissuasion sticks.

*I’m not so pale that I absolutely cannot be out in sunlight, but midsummer gets very, very warm, even at relatively high elevations, and I don’t like wearing long sleeves and a hat when I’m walking for exercise in summer.


29 thoughts on “Dog Sticks and Yip-dogs

  1. Would an electric cattle prod, or something similar, be effective? I can see it might be dangerous to use it against a large, aggressive dog, which might attack if provoked like that: but a small, yappy dog should be deterred by it – or am I wrong? They’re available on Amazon, and don’t seem too expensive.

    • I don’t think the local police would like that, and neither would Animal Control. Pepper spray would probably be a safer legal option, and would not require physical contact with the animal.

      • Check out the Kimber option. Essentially a derringer style that uses pistol primers to send a double shot of spray out and AWAY from you. Very easy and relatively safe to use. I carry this instead of a firearm. Not that I wouldn’t prefer more forceful persuasion.

    • Used them years ago when I was a kid for training/breaking dogs. Haven’t used one on a dog in many years, but from my memory I only remember very few dogs had the constitution to even attempt and come through that electricity to get at you. If they couldn’t get away they would snap at the cattle prod which is why the metal tube ones rather than the ones with a fiberglass wand were preferable.

      I’ve been shocked by one and they are pretty powerful, but they are carefully designed to not cause any damage. And from what I understand even though a cow is much larger than a dog their nervous system is more fragile (for lack of a better term) than canines and they can’t handle electricity like a dog can.

      So they appear cruel, but they create a deterrent (pain) with no danger of actually injurying the dog. Unlike the swift kick to the ribs that an ankle biter is liable to recieve. In a common sense world this would make perfect sense and the police would congralute you on your forethought and humaness. In the world we are living in they would be as likely to charge you with premeditation.

      • Re: cows being more fragile.

        My dad went out to work on a pump house once, and there were two dead cows next to it; he was cussing about what on earth (idiot neighbor) had done that poisoned the water right there, walked in– and got a mild shock from the water, he put it at “worse than an electric fence” but not even close to some normal electrical accidents he’d been in, and he’s very careful.

        The pump had stopped working because of a minor short into the water, and the cattle had flat died from something that hurt and startled him, but did no damage.


        I’ve been hit with a cattle prod, too. Yay, ranch life with siblings.

        • Ugh. They had a rerun of that one crazy old veterinarian show, and there were nine cows in a metal barn that had all been electrocuted by a lightning strike, through the metal bars on their pens. It wasn’t like the rest of the barn was even damaged, and the other cows that weren’t leaning against bars were okay. The dead cows weren’t burned or anything, like electrocuted humans often are. So I was wondering how that had worked.

      • I wonder if the difference between cow and dog WRT handling electricity is because even a small dog still has the mentality of a predator, while a cow, for all its size and strength, still thinks like a prey animal.

  2. If you are in a community with a leash law, do as I did, make a police complaint. The neighbor, after a formal visit from the local police, promptly built a fenced area strong enough to contain the large beast that they owned.

  3. Crimeny.
    If you can’t control an animal, don’t own it.
    How hard is it to be responsible?

    Granted, if my male St. Bernards somehow got out of the fence when you were walking by, and I wasn’t there to stop them, you’d leave looking like you’d attended a familiars convention. (They’re convinced humans exist for the purpose of giving and receiving affection. They’re great fun to throw on leashes, and take to places where there are going to be lots of kids.)

  4. When I bicycled to work a lot, I’d encounter a lady walking an Italian Greyhound and a small poodle, each dog around 15 pounds, both properly leashed. The poodle was calm, but (uncharacteristically for the breed), the IG would try to attack me, and would run into the poodle. A brief dogfight would ensue as I rode off. Every. Damned. Time. I thought of the dogs as Siskel and Ebert.

    Up here, a neighbor called animal control on us because our dogs were barking at her when she walked to get the paper down at the highway. Our dogs were behind the fence, but just plain didn’t like her. Her complaint didn’t go far when we mentioned that the same neighbor walked with her 80 pound retriever/pit-bullish mix, and that the dog would occasionally make threatening moves against us. No leash. We tried to keep our dogs inside when that neighbor was walking, and she left the big dog at home.

    Other neighbors had a German Shepherd and a young Lab. The lab would make threatening moves, and the GS (calm by itself) would get really threatening as he was trying to “defend” the lab. They both wandered over to a mini-ranch just south of us and tried to go after the owner. Two loud bangs later and the dogs were no longer a problem. (I disliked that neighbor, but he was well within his rights. If the dogs had gotten into our property, I’d have done the same.)

    • I had to shoot dogs that were going after livestock (llamas and alpacas and horses). The owners were seriously p-ssed at my riding instructor and I for doing it, but 1. the dog owners had been warned by several people to keep the dogs confined and 2. my instructor and I had both (separately) contacted the sheriff to make certain that we were within the law. Once the owners saw that, and had it pointed out to them that they could be fined several hundred dollars for allowing the dogs out to harass livestock, they got really quiet.

      • A friend lives out in the country, where developers have been buying property and building “country estates.” The city people move in, immediately get several large dogs, and let them run free.

        They generally wind up killing livestock, and after various warnings to the city people, the dead dogs are left at the end of their driveways. Despite many warnings, they seem to expect the sheriff is going to come in with a full SWAT team and take the crazed dog-killers away, and then there are various phases of outrage and denial when they find out they’re not in court is because the shooters have been nice enough to give them one last change before swearing out a complaint.

        For some reason, they never seem to be grateful…

  5. Pepper spray. Acceptable in all of the locations I know of. Carry it and use it. Liberally on the ankle biter… Period, end of subject.

    • Wisconsin, last I checked, prohibited pepper spray for ANY reason.
      I do like the idea of an electric deterrent – preferably with the ‘stick’ having alternating +/- ‘rings’ of metal so biting the ‘stick’ means getting bit right back, good and hard.

      And there is the story (Truth Coefficient: UNKNOWN) of the fellow on horseback and dog harassing the horse. Dog owner ignores requests to control the dog, reply, “He’s just having a little fun.” Dog owner was consiberably less happy when the reins were loosened/dropped and the horse given his head… and “My horse can have just a little fun, too.” as the dog is no longer barking, but whining… in flight.

  6. twenty-odd years ago taking small child to local park. Beagles (i think, those white & brown hunting dogs?) off leash running around decide we’re interesting/dangerous//something. Female owner plaintively tries to call them back totally ineffectively and doesn’t move to get closer to them either. I’m planning to kick if they get too close. Kid scared. … We stand still and look uninteresting. Dogs give up and wander away. Owner STILL doesn’t corral the animals. Me, extrememly ticked off.

    Although the worst encounter ever was the dog that jumped out of the pickup bed and chased us while I was walking Grandma’s dog across a junction of four lane roads. Fortunately after a few minutes the traffic scared it back to the person who was trying to get it under control, but….that was an interesting few minutes

  7. Then there was the poor dog in a passing car who had to tell my Beagle Lilly “who was boss”.

    I say poor dog because he fell out of the car and apparently was at least stunned by the fall. 😦

    His owners stopped their car and picked him up.

  8. In my experience this is a real problem with small dogs. I think much of it is because their owners think that they aren’t dangerous, whereas if it were something large (Doberman, Dane, Rottweiler) the owner tends to know they need to train the animal and have control. In addition larger breeds have often been bred for a more calm demeanor. Nobody wants a bad tempered Dane its to scary. The little ones less so and some small breeds (I’m looking at you Chihuahua ) seem to have real panic issues that make them tend towards agressive behavior.

    • Nod.

      Of course, I’ve seen some of the smaller breeds “just bark”.

      They don’t act hostile while they’re barking.

      I think of it as “they just want people to know where they are” so they don’t get stepped on. 😉

      A few cases seem to be just territorial barking where the little guy is “just saying this is my yard so you Big Dog must stay out”. 😀

      • I can still remember how much it freaked me out to realize the swarm of mostly-chiwawa rat-dogs were stalking, not playing stupid puppy dominance games.

        I spent way too much time prepared to kick the thing that was really obviously attempting to get my Achilles’s tendon, and they all responded like predators.

        There’s a world of difference.

        • I’ve never seen packs of chihuahuas hunt anything (although it wouldn’t surprise me they’re effectively tiny wolves). However, I have seen chihuahuas hunted. When I was a young boy we had semi feral barn cats. Down the street was an elderly couple that had 2 chihuahuas. They also had a small back yard that I would mow for them (they were very elderly). their grass grew ridiculously fast such that their dogs would often be shoulder height in the grass (not too difficult these were tiny 3-5lb dogs). Three of our young male cats from the same litter would hunt together (something I’ve never seen before or since). They would stalk through the high grass sneaking up on the dogs. One of the cats would charge a dog who would run away, but be herded into the paws of the other two hidden cats. It was kind of hilarious to watch 4lb dogs being herded by large whole toms 13-15lbs each. It was clear the young tomcats were just playing as nobody got scratched and never did they apply the jugular/ windpipe bite/hold that a hunting cat uses to finish largish prey. The already jittery chihuahuas generally lived in terror. They would run out into the back yard, relieve themselves quickly and get back indoors unless the grass had been recently cut and they could see these fierce predators. I think the cats got some perverse joy out of chasing dogs.

  9. Neighbors used to have a mid-sized bull terirer. She died at a ripe age for the breed, about the gentlest dog I’ve ever seen. She ‘d get loose and come over, then sit under our flowers like a hippy. No problem with getting her collar and tugging gently to go back home, just extra washing and jumps. She was replace by a Chihuahua mix breed – nasty, constantly yapping little dog, with an attitude of “I’LL CUT YOU! (just pleasepleaseplease don’t step on me)”.

    Two to three days later, one of their cats showed up at our back door and made the proclamation that Our Feline Overlord was now here: get the treats, scratch my ears, and no more yapping dog. It was all over, except resetting the cat’s Sitbit for her favored spots inside. The outside favorites were already worn into the mulch.

  10. There are ultrasound devices that are supposed to cause a dog mild discomfort and cause it to back off. I don’t know how effective they are or whether they’ve been banned as cruel.

    What’s cruel, I think, is keeping a dog that cannot be comfortable and cannot feel safe in the company of the family around it.

    I wonder if the problem is greater with small dogs because it’s harder for them to bond with their owners. You can share affection with a larger dog, both ways, and can play together. Your hands are the right size, the dog can nuzzle you above the knee, it can lean on your ankles when you are seated, and it’s easy to grab a ball that’s the right size for the dog to chase … or catch. None of this works for a toy-size dog, so it would take special awareness and effort to bond with the dog.

    • My aunt and uncle raised Italian Greyhounds, toy sized. I first met Knight as barely a puppy at a family reunion in ’93. He had showed, didn’t do well and was sold as a pet to people who didn’t realize that fast, fragile dogs and hardwood floors are a bad combination. One broken leg later, and he was back with my Aunt. A lady who cleaned house for my aunt got him, but she had cancer and didn’t make it. I went back for my G’mother’s funeral in ’95, and Knight was back there. One stolen heart later and we were making arrangements for him to come out to California. (Protip: Delta sucks for long distance dog shipping.

      Knight was a sweetheart, but a Chihuahua could (and did) intimidate him. His slightly older buddy, Naughty Mary made AKC Champion and had the attitude. Our neighbors had a 40 pound wire-haired Terrier; dumb as a rock, but also sweet. Mary growled at him when they first met (Mary and Knight were both in the 12-13 pound range) and terrified Tuffy. When she heard him come out of the neighbor’s house, a growl or two would chase him back inside.

      I don’t know how hard it is for some breeds to bond with families, but IGs and me, we bonded. They are particularly fond of couches and people who sit in couches.

      They loved to run in our biggish city lot, but since they were Happy Meal sized to the eagles and Great Horned Owls, I had to build a covered kennel for them. Good dogs, but they needed coats for cold weather. OTOH, they loved country living. (Raises a cup to two old, gone friends.)

      • The little Italian greyhounds were basically bred to be lapdogs in Italian weather. So yup, they are very affectionate and tend to have good personalities. I know folks who already were into Italian Renaissance, and then got sucked into the Italian greyhound world. Fun for both them and the dogs.

    • Small dogs have no problems bonding, and the ones I’ve had have been extremely amendable to training.
      For some breeds there’s a genetic component, but it’s mostly about the effort and affection the owner wants to put in.

  11. IMO, any of those yappy toy-size “dogs” is not actually a dog. It’s a mutated rat.

  12. If you ever run into big dogs like Danes again, it’s basically a case of plant your feet and stay calm. An attitude of dominance and mild disapproval does wonders, unless they are actually mean. They often understand voice tones even if they aren’t particularly amenable to commands, so you can even ask them what the heck they are doing. (But physical body language of disapproval will probably work without talking.)

    They usually want to sniff you, so putting out your closed hand is good. Because otherwise they will want to sniff your legs and such.

    But usually giant dogs are actually a little easier to deal with, because as noted above, you don’t normally meet a vicious Great Dane or Irish wolfhound. Mastiffs need a litttle more care, because some breeds are territorial, but usually they are fine also.

    • I understand your meaning, suburbanbanshee, but I’m not entirely sure I agree. Giant breeds may not be vicious, but that doesn’t mean they won’t attack you if they decide it’s necessary.

      There is a house I occasionally pass on my exercise walks which is home to a harlequin Great Dane. A very good specimen of the breed, too. The house is a typical suburban small home – two stories, garage, front yard about 20 by 30 feet. They use an invisible fence, I believe, because there is no visible fence and they let the dog run loose in the yard. It will range all over the yard and driveway, but stays a couple of feet away from the sidewalk. If the dog is outside, and especially if any of the humans are outside, I cross the street to give the house as wide a berth as I can. Something about the dog’s attitude concerns me. Its body language says “I am on guard,” and I’m not confident that the invisible fence will stop it if it decides I’m a threat.

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