This is not the dog that freaked out on me; just a dog at a dog park.
Yesterday I was at a dog park; I was there to shoot specific dogs. The owner of the two dogs and I arrived at almost the same moment so there was no waste of time, I got to it right away. The dogs were wonderful; there was a male and a female Bloodhound and they were excellently behaved, wonderful to shoot and just all round great dogs. You don't see Bloodhounds around very often so of course they drew quite a bit of attention. But it wasn't the Bloodhounds that drew the attention of one dog; no that was me.
Not cool, not cool at all. There were dogs of every shape and size at the park; it was a busy day I'd have to say. But one medium sized black dog instantly took a disliking to me. I was over sort of under the bushes getting some great shots when I heard a dog barking very close. I turned around to see that it was indeed barking at me. I am very accustom to dogs being wary of my camera; it's really big and with the flash on and me holding it I can't imagine what they think that it might be.
I turned to assess the situation of this barking dog; he was pretty upset. He was displaying aggression but it was caused by fear. But fear does not mean that a dog will not bite. He was keeping a good distance away from me but obviously saw me as some sort of threat. I turned sideways and loosened by stance; this did nothing. He continued to bark menacing at me. All this time his owners kept saying "silly its just a camera." So I waited to see if they were planning on moving away but they were not so I sat down at the picnic table hoping that this would calm the savage beast, nope. He was not letting this go.
So this guy had a real hate on for me. After I sat at the table he came up and sniffed me and then darted back and started all over again. The owners pulled him away; again explaining that it was just a camera and left it at that. Cool................... not. I stood up and he came running at me; he was obviously not confident about the whole situation but not at all above giving me a good nip. Being bit was not on my agenda for the day so I gave the owners a "really?" look. They decided to move away but oh no their dog did not. He came charging back giving all me of the ferocity he could muster up.
This was one of those dogs that was not going to come around. Even when I removed my camera and distanced myself from it he was keeping his "freaked out" zone going. No matter what I did there was not going to be a change in this dog; of course unless I had the time to sit down with treats, without my camera and be patient. I wasn't there to desensitize this dog; I was there to shoot. Luckily a few moments later a new big and boisterous dog came in drawing all the attention towards him. I took this span on non assault time to make my quiet disappearing act to the other side of the park.
This was an unusual case, I was in a dog park so the whole situation was weird and dealing with it weird as well. I remained calm which is the first and most important thing to do. Of course having treats would have definitely helped but not in a dog park. The owners should have definitely stepped in and removed their dog; his behavior was completely unacceptable. This was obviously not the first time it had happened; my camera can make dogs wary but freaked out to that degree? Unlikely a first time thing.
Confronting him could have definitely worked; he lacked confidence and it probably would have been enough to send him packing. But, again I was at a dog park so things could have backfired as well. It was up to the owners in this situation and they didn't step up to the plate, they let their dog down by not leading. They let their dog run around threatening a stranger and gave him no feedback. He thought that he was taking care of a threat and they let him, not cool. Allowing a dog to control a situation is never a good idea and it could just lead both owner and dog into serious trouble. If the dog had bitten me; it would have been very serious. Unacceptable behavior is just that; unacceptable.