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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Wanted to share/ tell you about a creature we encountered on our walk today. Down on the local bike/walking trail, 'bout midway, there's some... guy? Creature? Walking on the same side as me. I'm on the far right side, as is usual. This dark, foreboding person comes towards me, not uttering a word nor even seeming like he notices Bagheera and I coming towards him. At the last second Bagheera had had ENOUGH of this creepy guy and lunged and GROWLED and that seemed to shake the man from his stupor and he passed on by us to our left. He never uttered a word nor did I. I never moved from the right side. It was odd, dark still, but I couldn't really tell you if the guy was black or white, or even for sure that it was a guy - didn't really even see his face. Dressed all in dark clothes, long sleeves, hands in pockets I think. Might have had a hoodie on and a beard - vagabond perhaps? I didn't hear any music but suppose he could have just been listening through earbuds, eyes down, and never even noticed us until the last second... but Bagheera wasn't happy with his behavior.

It got me thinking. A long time ago there was a theory that dog attacks happen when the dog gets confused and no longer sees the person as a human being. Has your dog ever acted oddly towards someone?
 

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Yes, in similar circumstances. I used to have a labrador, and we went for a walk one evening on an isolated forest trail in a city park. We sat for a while at a viewing point, and after a few minutes I noticed a guy hanging out behind a tree, watching us. My very gentle labrador put her hackles up and started growling. I left immediately, and the guy followed. When I walked faster, so did he. I was starting to be frightened. Part way down the trail we met another guy coming towards us: about 6'6", shaven head, tattoos ... My labrador immediately ran up to greet him, tail wagging. I took a chance and asked if he would walk back down with me because I thought I was being followed. He was super nice, calmed me down and walked me back to a busy street where I felt safe. Lesson learned: Trust the dog and don't judge people by their appearance.
 

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Usually I would correct my dog for unexpected behavior like this but in these circumstances I would agree that maybe it's best to go with your gut and follow the dogs lead. It reminds me of something I read once in a training book, I'm pretty sure it was Ian Dunbar. He mentioned that when teaching the dog to speak he uses the word "defend" instead of speak. There was no explanation as to why use that word so I thought about it. Now imagine that during a walk you come across a person that makes you uncomfortable. You could have the sweetest dog in the world, they don't know that, if this person hears you use the word "defend" followed by a bark I would think their assessment might be to just move on. Good dog.
 

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Why was it a isolated rail, come on. lets not do that again
I'm in Canada and this was 20 years ago - it was (and still is) generally very safe. I'd been walking that trail with the dog for years with no problems, and I did it again after the incident, but never at dusk. I don't live downtown any more, but I have access to other forest trails now and I sometimes walk on them in the dark, with a headlamp. That incident was the only time I've ever been afraid when walking with my dog.
 

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My Neeko has had two of these incidents. Both people were wearing dark hoodies, gloves, and you couldnt see their faces, and they talked...One was a neighbor, but Neeko was having none of it. It was winter, and everyone was bundled up, and it was dark out .... He needs to see faces Im assuming...
 

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Kate
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That's one of the very few examples of situations where growling + warning barking is OK. And very appropriate.

We had once housesat for a friend who was having problems with her neighbors. Sure enough, at night time (like 2-3 AM), she had people walking around her backyard and probably up to no good.

My Danny - who was a very soft dog and NEVER EVER growled or raised his lips at any of us. He stormed the back window (like the sliding door and screen area) and was barking like a huge guard dog loose in the house. It scared off whoever was outside and the incident passed without any harm.

Other time, my older sister was out walking her boy (Sammy) out along an isolated rural road... and had some guys in a truck slow way down like they were going to stop and hassle her.

Sammy was a marshmallow of a dog around people and other dogs. Was absolutely not aggressive and I wouldn't call this "aggressive" either. But he veered around between my sister and the truck and his hackles were up and he was doing a low growl at the guys in the truck. They immediately took off.

My sister was scared to death during the incident and left the road and cut across some fields to get back to the house. So nothing else came of it, but it could have been really bad possibly. Who knows what those guy's intentions were. My sister was very petite then (she still is) and would not have been able to defend herself very well.
 

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Angel is to young for any of that, but she does bark and growl at the vacuum, weed wacker and the broom o and my neighbors plastic trash bag. Athena however she is very quiet so if she is barking i get off whatever i am doing, comp watching tv anything and run to her and see what is wrong.
 

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My Malamute wouldn't let anyone within 20 ft of me if it was dark out. We walked a lot at night during the summer. Even if we both knew the person he was happy to sit and let me chat but cross that 20ft circle and it was teeth barred.
 

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Appropriate growling? Yes it is. A growl is communication, the dog saying it is not feeling good, is not comfortable, with the situation and/or what is happening (or thinks may happen) to it. Far better for the dog to growl, and for us to 'listen', than for the dog to stay silent and be forced to escalate when the 'threat' gets too close.
 

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Charlotte
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Why was it a isolated rail, come on. lets not do that again
I too walk isolated trails by myself quite often. I would not do it without my dog, though.
And yes, I've also been out at night with a headlamp, walking around a nearby lake. I don't do it anymore because coyotes have moved in, not out of fear of humans.
As far as the growl, I've learned to always trusts my dog's instincts.
 

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It happened to me once only, in similar circumstances. Years ago I was on a trail, close to the house with now my 17 year lab and the bridge boy Buddy. There was that man/woman running sideways, thin and tall, all covered up including the head about 50 meters from me. Us on the trail, him/her in the woods. My dogs run to the creature and bared their teeth, the person froze. The man had both hands in a pocket and all i could think of he may shoot my dogs as my guys didn't respond to recall, which was not normal. I run to them, managed to attach a leash, mumbled sorry and we walked away. When we returned to the parking lot the police was there. They were looking for someone, but I couldn't offer any description, chances are it was just an odd jogger. All I know my dogs never growled at a human before this event or ever after.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Fascinating to hear other's stories of similar events. While Golden's are the nicest dogs on Earth, it's nice to know they "have our back" so to speak. Bagheera is a playful SILLY dog most of the time, but he's got a dash or two of "don't back down" in him. I think it comes from being a daycare'd puppy where he had to learn to stick up for himself from 8 weeks of age to 6 months. His self-confidence is perfect, although early on I was concerned he'd be overly timid. Praise be to positive reinforcement methods! He was taught from an early age that new things can be, probably are, fun...

..but with that guy on the trail, Bagheera made the "right" call and decided that situation was NOT anything fun. Still no clue what actually happened - who walks directly towards a guy and his dog, not uttering a single word, nor moving to let them pass? Weird.
 

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A couple of years ago my husband had a heart attack and I got home to an empty house at midnight. I was sipping a glass of wine trying to relax when Charlie went crazy barking and growling at the backyard. We had an abandoned house next door and the son of the owner was camping in the backyard with some of his fellow homeless friends. I don't know if one of them had come into my backyard but between Charlie and the motion sensored light nobody was visible. I was so grateful to have Charlie. I do think they can pick up on our feelings and anxiety and I was definitely stressed that night.
 

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Part way down the trail we met another guy coming towards us: about 6'6", shaven head, tattoos ... My labrador immediately ran up to greet him, tail wagging. I took a chance and asked if he would walk back down with me because I thought I was being followed. He was super nice, calmed me down and walked me back to a busy street where I felt safe. Lesson learned: Trust the dog and don't judge people by their appearance.
Sometimes big intimidating bald guys with tats come in handy! :wink2:
 

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Yes. My first Lab, who never barked (I had him checked for deafness), growled twice in his 17 year life. Once when someone was walking aggressively toward us late at night. The guy veered off down the road after that. And once when I was walking through a park and there was a small group of unsavory men who had been drinking and started to harass me. That dog pulled me through that park, hackles and tail up and growled when one guy got too close.

The weirdest thing that ever happened to me was just a couple years ago. On my regular dog walking route, at some point a young man was very sadly robbed and murdered by gunshot on the sidewalk. I avoided that route for about two weeks or so and then I drove by that spot to/from work and one day noticed that the spot was back to how it was (make shift memorial was gone, etc.) and decided I'd walk the dogs on the regular route again.

I was walking the two dogs I have now. When we got to the spot, which frankly I didn't really notice as I get a little head in the clouds on my walks, Wyatt got super spooky like he's never been before. Reminded me more of a horse than a dog, for those of you who know horses. My other dog was completely oblivious and was just trotting along like normal. Wyatt is a pretty sensitive and intuitive dog who has a good nose, so I am thinking he smelled blood, chemicals or something in that spot. He knew there was something different. It was really strange!
 

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FosterGolden you were lucky... the only way my lab was ever going to protect me is if the intruder tripped over her as she laid in the floor! My golden's have been a little more pro-active :)
My black Lab is like that. I'm 99.9% sure he's just show robbers where to find anything valuable in my house.

I forgot about last September as I was sitting on my sofa watching TV around 10pm, I saw lights. I went to the window and there were a dozen policeman in my front yard with flashlights. I just sort of stood there. They were silent (my window was open) and the dogs had no clue. I checked my neighborhood's Facebook page to learn that there was someone armed and dangerous on foot in the neighborhood jumping in people's yards and was last seen by my house.

The police walked away and about an hour later I went to bed. I shut and locked the windows except for the one in my bedroom as it was hot outside. Wyatt sleeps in my bed and he was out. I was trying to sleep, but wondering if I should close the window (um, yes, is the answer). As I started to doze off, Wyatt woke up out of a deep sleep, just literally jumped up and started to viciously bark in a way I'd never seen. He was jumping the walls and flipping out. It actually scared me to see him like that!

I shut the window and let him bark, hoping that it would scare whoever was back there away. I knew that guy was in my yard. I called the police also but they never came because they had tracked him someplace else by that point. Wyatt eventually stopped barking after several minutes and went to sleep and that was the first and last time he's done anything like that.
 

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I love reading all these stories it's nice to know our Goldens are there to keep watch over us!

My Wally is usually a shy thing but warms up pretty quick. So him acting like this was out of character. Once when I was working late he was sleeping at my feet and all of a sudden stood up, hackles risen, and let out a deep menacing growl. I tried my hardest to calm him down but he would not let up. Started barking and growling all the while standing rigid just staring at the door ready to pounce.
Turns out there was a guy who was on the property, the police were looking for him and he was skulking around outside of our building. He was wanted for beating his ex-wife almost to death. The police eventually caught up with him down the way and arrested him. It gives me some peace knowing that Wally was there and if push came to shove I could count on him to have my back.
 

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