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I have a 7 year old female Pomeranian.

I take her out for a walk to a nearby park in the neighborhood every now and then. But in various occasions, when leaving home, she appears to be terrified even though there is literally no threat I can observe.

When this happens, I walk her out anyway (sometimes I have to lift her up) - and whenever she is afraid I know it's because there are dogs in the garages of the neighborhood houses. It's interesting because you have to walk quite a distance before you can see the dogs, so it's like she can smell them from far away or something.

Anyway, her fear doesn't seem to be irrational either: every single dog will bark and snarl at her from the garages. Small and big, male and female, they all seem to hate my pomeranian for some reason. And my dog knows!

What makes this especially weird is that I've seen people walking their dogs around the neighborhood and they don't get the same treatment.

It's not just garage dogs - dogs that are being walked at the same time also seem to dislike mine.

Funnily, I've found two stray dogs that are not aggressive against mine and surprisingly my dog is not afraid of them either (not even her sixth sense seems to kick in). It's really weird.

For this reason I have always avoided letting her interact with those dogs in fear that they'll attack her or something (they look angry and my dog is clearly afraid).


Why does this happen, and am I overreacting? Should I let my dog interact with them and see what happens?

  • Can you give me more information about the first contact between your dog and the stray dogs? – Haras Brummi Oct 15 '17 at 5:21
  • @HarasBrummi my dog ignores them (she's not afraid though - maybe just a little uncomfortable), but the stray dogs seem to be curious and approach her, maybe sniff her (she doesn't sniff back). They will follow us around for a while and then leave. Pretty uneventful. Oh, I should mention that even other Pomeranians seem to hate her (I've met a couple two-year-old ones who will growl and bark at her and mine is afraid!) – Omega Oct 15 '17 at 11:58
  • Is your dog spayed? And how would you describe her behavior around most dogs: dominant, alpha, playful, submissive, scared? How she behaves and fits into most packs (leader, middle of the pack, or submissive) as well as where the dogs that react to her are placed on the pack chain, would all contribute to this. – Christy B. Oct 17 '17 at 4:18
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There may be more factors involved, but to me it sounds like you have a rather complex feedback-chain going on there. If anything here seems totally NOT fitting with your experience, feel free to ignore the advice following my explanation of what I THINK may be happening.

Let's start with you and your dog starting the walk. ONE of you, either the dog, or you, possibly both, are nervous about the walk, based on past experience. If you have a sensitive dog, she will pick up even very subtle signs. Seeing the way how you described the situation, youa re observant of your dog and other dogs, so her nervousness may easily transfer to yourself, too. The result is you start the walk in a state of mild, possibly suppressed and hidden, nervousness.
You reach the first dog, and he senses our nervousness. Now, among dogs, nervousness is a danger-sign. In addition, taking the strays as an example: I have seen SO many dogs that where tense and on the aggressive side on the leash but playful and happy when OFF-leash, it is almost crazy. It may really be a matter of tension-feedback between leashed dogs and their owners goign on between all the walking-pairs involved here. That strays react well is a sign that your dog is NOT the sole problem! Strays are usually tense with humans, but especially in areas with many strays, really well socialized in dog-on-dog-behavior!
So, congratulations, both you and your dog are reinforced in your nervousness by the first dog you met acting aggressively! Nervousness and fear reinforced.

As I said, if any of this does NOT ring true with what you observe, I may easily be totally off with my advice. If it all fits, try this:

Link up with other dog-owners. Try to find a few people who know their dogs and have them well-trained. For a bit, try to find a route that avoids the garage- and random encounters as far as possible. Make sure when you start the walk, you are as calm and optimistic as you can be.
Arrange a meeting-spot with one of your partners. If your dog seems nervous at any point on the way: ignore, make her walk, DON'T lift her up. Lure her, distract her, push her. Try to avoid pulling on the collar, a tight collar is not a pleasant thing.
When you approach the meeting-spot, give your dog time to spot the other dog. Ideally, the other dog is either on leash and NOT pulling and/or under good voice-control by it's owner. Then, let your dogs meet.

The basic idea is: you AND your dog learn that approaching other dogs is not always scary and a conflict. Every time this works out, that is awesome! Happily or at least meeting another dog? You are DELIGHTED with yours, showing her in praise, treats, whatever works for her. The more you avoid bad meeting during that, the better.
Eventually, the training should keep random encounters calm, too.

Good luck. I know this is a lot of planning and work, but it sounds like you can pull this off :).

PS: this is a lot longer than I planned on it being...

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  • I had the same impression, so I am curious if it fits Omegas experience. Anyway a great advice! – Haras Brummi Oct 16 '17 at 19:23

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