In January of 2020 I first wrote about Emma’s attacks on dogs of the Upper West Side.
In the time since, Emma has attacked other dogs, chasing one out of the park and across Central Park West. And again, Emma’s owner did nothing to stop her. Many participating in dog play groups have requested Emma not be allowed to assault their dogs. Because Emma’s owner refused to control her dog, a number of owners began to avoid these groups.
Pax’e and I have tried to avoid Emma’s aggression:
By altering our walking schedule
By going to different areas of Central Park and as a result we have missed seeing our friends in our usual locations
If I’ve seen Emma in the park, we have quickly turned and headed in the opposite direction
I choose high or open ground to let Pax’e play so I can see if Emma is coming – but…
Even with all these avoidance strategies in place, last week as Pax’e and I were getting ready for a ball toss west of the tennis courts at Ninety Sixth Street, I heard a growl coming at us from out of nowhere then saw Emma trying to grab Pax’e’s back end.
I had not seen Emma coming before she was biting Pax’e.
Emma was relentless. All I could do was keep twirling between Emma and Pax’e as Emma continued with multiple aggressive charges.
Emma finally backed down from me and my yelling at her with straight-on direct eye contact (not an advisable thing to do with an aggressing dog but there was nothing else).
Emma’s owner did not call Emma off of Pax’e and me. She did not try to intervene. She simply continued along the path without her dog.
Many of you don’t know that I walk with a cane and have had a number of falls this winter. Attacks like this not only put Pax’e at risk, but me as well.
Emma’s attacks put dogs and people at risk of physical harm and a kind of Dog-walking stress disorder where dog-walkers cannot have a peaceful walk in the park because they are in a heightened state of stress and arousal hoping they don’t run into Emma.
New York City dogs and their handlers have rights to be safe. They should be able to walk through parks without the threat of an unleashed aggressive dog attacking them because the dog’s handler does not care. No dog walker should leave their apartment wondering if the off-leash bully of the neighborhood is going to attack them.
More of us need to say something to Emma’s Cruell de Vil-ian mistress or Emma will continue to prevent those of us who have been attacked by Emma from having a simple peaceful walk in the park – or worse.
is a uniquely qualified clinician with expertise in evaluating, managing and modifying a wide range of challenging canine behaviors. They build and strengthen relationships between the human and canine members of a household by minimizing stress in training and creating an atmosphere where all members of the household learn positive training techniques.
Dog Behavior Consultants emphasize preventing behavior problems and when issues already exist, working protocols in the LIMA principal (Least Invasive, Minimally Aversive) to fix and/or manage behavioral obstacles getting in the way of a happy human-dog household.
Brody and Baby-L – How this beautiful relationship got started
In August of 2018, Jessica reached out to me regarding her dog Brody and her son (aka Baby-L).
She kept me updated over the years and has given me permission to share her story of love, safety, and success.
“When we brought Baby-L home I felt like I was drowning in fear and anxiety because of our dog, and I honestly thought I would never come out of it. Obviously, I still manage and watch them carefully, but I do feel confident and I am much more emotionally relaxed while I help them build their relationship.”
Jessica’s note from September 2020
All Three Dogs Training’s clients fill out a behavioral questionnaire. Some of the items from Jessica’s questionnaire were:
“Brody’s overexcitement/anxiety makes him very jumpy, barky, and all worked up when something out of the ordinary happens (guests, car rides, etc.).
I do not believe that my dog would hurt my baby but…
Brody had a history with a toddler in the family.
“We cannot close Brody off in his own room without him crying and barking and digging at the door (he dug a hole in the upstairs carpet …)
I want to help him learn it’s okay to be away from us and have him learn to relax away from the action. We joke that he has FOMO (fear of missing out).”
Brody’s FOMO was going to get in the way of the positive association exercises he needed.
Jessica worked on teaching Brody skills to be comfortable around Baby-L while separated by a gate or play yard, or very focused oversight.
When a dog is on the other side of a baby gate or play yard he can watch baby’s development and learn to be okay with a crawling, toddling child. It also allows us to be able to give our dog commands and rewards for being quiet and calm around the baby.