Rights of NYC Dogs and Their Humans

Emma off leash W. 97th Street, NYC

Emma, a female Giant Schnauzer walks the Upper West Side of Manhattan off leash.

She outweighs my dog, Pax’e, by about twenty-five pounds and has gone-after Pax’e on multiple occasions.

These were targeted attacks, beginning with a predatory assault in Central Park which Emma would not break off until I intervened.

Subsequent attacks occurred on Ninety-seventh Street and the parking lot of Park West Village, each marked by escalating intent and aggression.

In an attack on December 29th, Emma ran across Ninety-seventh Street to bite Pax’e on the butt slamming Pax’e into a parked car on the street, then continued to peruse Pax’e. As I tried to get us away, Emma bit Pax’e again, lunging, growling, and snapping at her while I circled Pax’e to stay between Emma’s advances and Pax’e. This attack occurred in front of P.S. 163. What if children had been out there at the time?

Flaunting the leash law, Emma’s owner continues to walk Emma off leash on Ninety-seventh Street and probably others with little regard for the safety of dog or human.  Today, January 6th, Emma entered Central Park off leash at 103rd Street after the 9 AM leash restriction was in effect.

I was able to keep Emma away from Pax’e, but shortly after Emma and her human continued towards the Pool at 100th Street, I heard a dog fight. Emma was attacking a Boarder Collie named Nikko. I checked in with Nikko and her owner, Cecilia, afterwards. As she does with Pax’e, Emma targeted and attacked Nikko who had been playing with Cecilia. After the episode, Nikko was visibly shaking with her tail wrapped tight to her belly. Cecilia was also visibly shaking.

These details are important to underscore that Emma’s attacks are not like the occasional dog greeting that turns into canine trash talking. Emma is targeting Pax’e and other dogs aggressively.

Events like these highlight a few of the rights that all New York City dogs and their humans have:

  • All NYC dogs have a right to not be targeted by another dog on the streets or in the parks.
  • All NYC dogs have a right to not be subjected to this kind of stress and the potential that this trauma will cause them to become fearful of other dogs.
  • All the dogs have the right to be safe from predatory or dog-aggressive dogs.
    • It is unlikely Pax’e and Nikko are the only dogs Emma has gone after.
  • All New York City dog owners have a right to walk our dogs out our front doors without the fear that this will be the walk when a dog like Emma seriously injures our dog.
  • Dogs need to be walked on leash in New York City for their own safety and in Emma’s case, the safety of others.
  • Any dog has a right to not like another dog, but they cannot be allowed to act on these feelings because of irresponsible handling.

I have worked with clients whose dogs have had much more reactive/aggressive behaviors than Emma. These handlers have been responsible. They’ve kept their dogs on a leash, done training and behavior modification, and managed their dog’s access to other dogs in order to keep their dogs and other dogs safe. I thank every dog handler in New York City who works to keep a dog-reactive dog managed and socially responsible.

I am reminded of the Siberian Husky named Charlie who killed one dog in Central Park in 2018 and mauled another one in 2019. Could these attacks have been avoided if there had been a recourse to alert dog owners in the area? There was no way Charlie’s two known episodes were isolated behaviors without prior actions that predicted harm.

Is there a resource I don’t know about?

311 says to call the police. The police can’t do anything until there is an injury to a human. And injury or death to another dog is a civil matter.

If you see Emma, please be careful.

And please remind her human to put Emma on a leash.

Infini-tug Toy

The Infini-tug Toy is PetSafe’s replacement for the Tennis Tug. This is my favorite tug toy. 

  • It is soft on the hands for the humans
  • It is long so allows for a good distance between dog and handler
  • It can fly nicely so you can do a combo fetch/tug game
  • It goes in the wash machine and dryer
    • A little loud in the dryer, but pretty funny if your dryer has a window and the dog can watch it go round and round.

The down sides are short, but should be mentioned:

  • While the fleece is comfortable for the handler, it can be easily destroyed by the dog.
    • Take it out when it’s tug-time. Put it away when tug-time is over.
      • Don’t leave it alone with your dog – IT WILL BE SHREDDED !
  • The fringy end can be pulled by the dog leaving the toy a bit misshapen.
    • It’s a dog toy – who cares how it looks
    • Or, try to keep the dog pulling on the ball end.

Training with the Three P’s

Patience, Persistence and accepting that Perfect-is-not-all-it’s-cracked-up-to-be are fundamental to enjoyable and good positive reinforcement dog training.

When I first rescued Boo, I had many goals for him. But – because of who he was and what he later showed me, I had to adjust my goals and what training for him would look like.

In my book, A Dog Named Boo  we get to journey though the amazing things Boo did in his life in spite of his limitations and training hurdles.

Boo’s story is one of teaching: success in the face of struggle, unconditional acceptance of others, joy in all things, and that Patience, Persistence, and letting go of Perfect lies at the heart of all of these. Everyone who has potty-trained a puppy has used a type of ‘successive approximation’ like this.

– Cleaning up over and over until puppy begins to learn.
Persistence –
– Getting the puppy out often enough so puppy can be rewarded for ever more successful behaviors.
Perfect is not all it’s cracked up to be –
– Sometimes we all make mistakes.

Boo was patient when he taught me to give him the time he needed to learn things. Patience allows you take your time and let your dog show you who they are. Boo’s physical and cognitive limitations made it difficult for him to answer these questions quickly or at all sometimes.

Together we persisted in his training for his Pet Partner’s evaluation because his working as a therapy dog was the only way he was going to have kids in his life. Each dog will need their humans to persist in training differently. Boo needed extra time to learn new skills and confront fears. When he was afraid in the truck I had shift from convention wisdom to ways that would accommodate Boo so he could learn how to love the truck at his own pace.

For Boo to achieve his goal of visiting kids, it was almost two years of outings that slowly worked on his basic skills and treat-taking abilities in public. I had to craft alternative cues that Boo could follow and understand, much like I advise clients whose dogs are visually or hearing impaired. They can and will learn their basics and maybe even more than one might imagine, but it will have a different shape and form from traditional cues and signals.

And, when it came time for his therapy dog testing, we both let go of perfect knowing that in spite of his bumbling through the skills portion of the test, he would excel in the aptitude portion. Too often we get caught up in comparisons of one dog to another, yet one of the greatest gifts you can give your dog is to only compare them to where they started and how far they’ve come. Each dog will reach their fullest potential once we simply focus on each successive approximation as its own victory.

Boo never did things quite like any other dog, but it worked for him. When I would ask Boo for the paw command he’d swipe his paw in the air as if he were searching for a light switch in the dark. It in no way compared to the perfect easy-going dogs who leisurely reaches out and gently places their paw in your hand.

But when Boo does it, you could see his effort and sense of accomplishment in his simple, wobbly gesture and it always brought a smile in spite of the imperfection and probably more so because of it—like everyone cheering for the little engine who could—or in this case the little dog who could.

Jacques Boosteau

The lessons of Boo can apply to so many elements of human and canine interactions from dogs with special needs like him, to dogs who are reactive, stressed, need remedial socialization, and pretty much any dog who will be destined to work as a service or therapy dog.

As canine advocates and guardians, our job is to patiently observe what our dogs tell us then persistently and at their speed craft a training routine that suites them so they can become the best they can be given who they are.

Like Boo, all dogs have potential. Our job is to find it and nurture it.

Plan your Summer and Fall Dog Training

Now that the humans have graduated, it’s time to think about getting our canine friends a cap and diploma, too.

Three Dogs Training summer and fall classes are open for enrollment.

  • Summer session starts July 13th
  • Fall session starts September 7th

For more information click here.

Questions contact Lisa@threedogstraining.com

Pax’e Learns the Gum Ball Machine

Pax’e learns the gum ball machine is a nice example of trick training using a clicker.

I like using clickers for very specific tricks or tasks.

We’ll see this again when we see more of the nail board

If you have read some of my other blogs, you will know I am not keen on perfect – just getting where we want to go as happily as possible.

You can almost see Pax’e’s brain cells firing away as she tries to understand how to make the gum ball machine work.