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We bought Henry, (English Setter) last July, aged 13 months.  Two months after we got him we were walking through the woods, he was on his extending lead but by our sides when an offlead dog came charging over, ripped his ear to shreds and left a puncture wound in his neck.

Fortunately my husband was with me at the time as I went to pieces seeing all this blood, he got the name and address of the owner then rushed home to get the car, Henry was admitted for emergency surgery to his ear and throat, he spent a few weeks bandaged entirely around his head, poor little mite.  The owner of the offending dog admitted full liablility and her insurance paid all our vets bills, but that's not the point, he had a history of attacking dogs that were on lead, his owner more or less told me that it was my fault as my dog was on a lead!  I've attached some photos of Hen after he came back from the vets and a few weeks later.

I am on the committee of the local Dog Watch team, basically we look out for suspicious acitvity whilst walking our dogs and report back to the police.  Because of my contacts within the police I mentioned the attack to one of them and it transpired that they could warn the owner of the dog to keep it under control, i.e. either on a lead or muzzled.  This was carried out, although I haven't seen the dog in question again, hopefully it will prevent another innocent dog from being attacked.

Henry is not a fighter, he is a lover, he adores all his friends and I do let him off on occasions, but only in a field that is fully enclosed and when I know there are no threats to him, his recall is not 100% and I don't want to risk losing him in the woods, he is too precious to me.  He gets walked 4-5 times a day, on his extending lead, for anything from 1/2 an hour to 1 1/2 hours each time, he has access to the garden whenever he wants.  Thankfully this has not altered his temperament in any way.

Then, just before Christmas, we had the misfortune to cross paths with some people that own a nastie Westie, this had attacked my previous dog on a number of occasions but the people refused to control it...well I wasn't having Hen attacked again, I asked them politely to put it on a lead...as I nudged it gently away 5 times before it got the message, the daughter said the dog had never attacked anything in it's life.  There are several people we meet with friendly dogs that have all been got at by this dog, so I phoned my contact at the police station again, apparently these dog attacks are becoming more and more frequent.  She asked for details of where they lived and she issued them with a warning also, they have to keep the dog on a lead at all times or risk losing him...there had apparently been other reports about this dog but no-one knew where they lived.

Back to the point, I am now paranoid about taking Hen out, I know I am trying to wrap him up in cotton wool but seeing how this little terrier cross did so much damage the first time, and knowing that he won't fight back, unless it's a dog we already know I am crossing roads and all sorts just to avoid the off lead dogs, most of whom are probably perfectly harmless.  Last night Hen had a bounce around with his boxer friend, then we carried on walking only to be charged upon by a black Lab, tail in the air, grumbling away and jumping on Hen's back, no sign of an owner.  I pushed it away and shouted at it, it ran back off, we turned around and headed for home, suddenly he was back again trying to bite Hen...as it happened I was protecting Hen's head and throat and the dog grabbed the arm of my wax jacket, so I kicked it and screamed at it to get away.  I heard a mans voice in the distance shouting at it to get back, but I didn't hang around, I was in tears, it scared me to death, and I'm never scared of dogs, I love them all and have been bitten so many times as a child because I would try to make friends.

We live in a nice area of Buckinghamshire with plenty of fields and nice places to walk, and I'm not condeming people for allowing their dogs offlead, but it's got to the point where I am happily taking Hen out for his walk and I get this feeling of panic wash over me as to whether we will make it home in one piece.

I know dogs will be dogs and some are bolshy but mean no harm by it, we've met a lot like that, I let them have a sniff and then we walk on, I don't try to stop Hen making new friends, but there are some that just shouldn't be offlead at all, or if they are they should wear a muzzle to protect big softees like my boy.


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Thanks for the advice Ossian, but I have owned setters for over 30 years and I love them because of their temperaments.   I refuse to let one offlead just to defend itself, especially when I know it will turn heel and run. No, I would far rather let the authorities deal with those people that are too irresponsible to train their dogs to not attack.  Besides, I don't want a dog that fights, given the choice I would rather have Henry as soppy as he is.

As for getting my head together, seeing my precious boy ripped to pieces in front of me and being able to do nothing about it, hearing his screams mingled in with my screams, and seeing what he had to go through every other day when we returned him to the vets for the dressings to be changed, would be, I should think, enough to make anyone paranoid.

Thanks also Sue and Tracy.

BUT if you find yourself in a confrontation and a dog attacks yours on lead your instinct is to haul the lead. Setter ears are always in the way and a snapping dog will grab what it can so you stand to have punctured ears or if you have a pit type locked on to flesh you will do much more damage that an escaping dog.


For those of you meeting aggressive types and irresponsible owners you need to learn evavise techinques mot how to deal with attack!

 I was also going to stay out of this, but I agree 100% with Ossian. The bottom line is that the Lab BIT YOU! Luckily you were not hurt, but the fact is in these situations YOU could end up the one mauled. I love my dogs and will protect them within reason, but not at risk to me or heaven forbid any children that are with me.  As horrifying as it is to have your dog attached and perhaps killed, the dog, no matter how well loved, is still a dog and not a child.

The entire purpose of having a dog leashed is so YOU are in control. A leashed dog is therefore defenseless. They cannot run, fight back or drop into a submissive position.

I have also had dogs attacked without cause or warning. Gracie is also a sweetie without an aggressive bone in her body. A few weeks ago she was attacked by another setter that went for her jugular and Gracie had the puncture wounds to prove it. I think the reason she is still alive is because I dropped the leash immediately and she could then drop into the full submission posture. The other setter immediately let go.  At that point I grabbed his collar and jerked him away (not something I recommend, I had a bit of an adrenaline rush going). Gracie stayed down. I stood there in the middle of the road with a now docile setter (believe me had he tried to move, I would have hurt him and he knew it) until the owner arrived. That discussion was not pretty nor was the one they had with Animal Control.

I think working with Fran is a brilliant idea. You need help getting over your fear so you have the right ‘Alpha’ attitude and posture when taking Hen out. He’ll then sense your confidence and become more confident.

Best of luck

Thanks again for the advice, and I do take it on board those that are saying I should let him go, and why I should let him go, but I have already said in my opening post that Henry doesn't have 100% recall, and that is with me calling him and offering a treat, he is only allowed offlead when the area is totally escape proof.

If I let him off his lead because a dog was attacking him I know that he will run off, maybe straight into the path of a car, or into the woods which stretch for miles and are surrounded by dual carriageways..so not only do I not protect him from being bitten, I allow him to get lost or worse, flattened on the main road?  These attacks aren't happening in the secure field, they are happening on the footpaths beside roads as we make our way to the park or woods, or once we are at the park or woods, both of which are entirely open, i.e. no barriers to prevent a dog from running and running.

If you were to see some of the idiots around here that don't seem to know what a dog lead looks like, let alone how to use one, you would probably get a picture of what it is like.  It is a very nice area and lots of nice people, lots of nice friendly dogs, and Henry meets new dogs all the time, but there is always going to be this element.  I cannot believe the amount of dogs I see being walked along the side of busy roads without a lead on...what if they see a cat or something else they want to chase?

To be honest, I don't care one iota whether a dog bites me, there is absolutely no way on earth that I will let Henry off lead if attacked, I would rather have my arm mauled than have him harmed again.  Lets face it, if a dog bites me then it is far more likely that the owner will take responsibility than if it just bites Henry!

I'm more than happy to take advice from Fran, if she feels she can help me, this is the first time I have ever lived in an area like this, and we will be away from here sooner rather than later if I get my way, but until then, I have to do everything in my power to keep Henry safe.

I did also mention that in this area the dog warden has nothing to do with dangerous dogs, we have to report it to the police and my experience of them is fantastic so far, but they can only do what they do if they have an address of the owner, or at least an idea of where they live.

Is it possible to drive to where you will let him off lead?  Just curious. 

We have no choice but to do that, and then we are all safe and secure. Seriously even if it means just a 2 minute car ride, I think that would be a safer option for you.  My dog isn't so great about coming back to me either.  But does stay within a few feet of me.  Just doesn't want to be releashed.  I do notice that if he is frightened or hurt, he comes straight to me.  I think they know when they need us.  In fact if Cash comes running to me, I know something is wrong. 

Hi Sue,

Yes Fran has very kindly offered us the use of her paddock so I will be able to drive him there.  There is also a totally secure area within a 5 minute walk of our house, but that is for everyone and I only let him off if there are no other dogs over there, unless they are his friends and I know they will play with him. However, getting to these places can be a bit of a challenge if we cross paths with the wrong'uns

Thanks Sue :-)

I do understand that people can see this picture probably clearer than me and are only trying to help....I take everything on board that they are telling me, and peoples experiences are helping me, but it is the offlead thing that I have a problem with.

It is lovely of Fran to offer the paddock and I will have to have a chat with her when we can.

I was moved by Fran's offer,that is so kind and I wish I had the same offer here.

I am sick of worrying whether or not there are pit bull crosses about,there a lot of them here and all owned by young men who see them as a status symbol and who make their dogs aggressive to add to their street cred.The Police,although informed,don't do anything.The last attack on my gentle Fred was about 3 months ago by an  American Bull Dog x Bull Terrier.A huge dog.Fred was on lead, the attacking dog had no collar and when the owner eventually dragged him off Fred both he and his dog ran away.

I don't care about the vet bills I care about my poor dogs being injured and in pain.

It is about time the law was changed and all aggressive, out of control, dogs were treated under the Dangerous Dog Act by a Police Force that was caring and active.

I agree with Sheree,witnessing your beloved dog under attack and hearing the screams is a most horrible experience.

Sorry,about that I just get upset.

Fran you are a kind lady.

Howard, I'm so sorry that you have also been on the receiving end of these unprovoked attacks, I also don't care about the vets bills but I do care about the pain inflicted during these attacks.

I would mention to those that inferred it that Henry wasn't strung up on his lead to allow this dog to shred his ears, he was on a long line beside us, the lead wasn't locked and the dog just appeared from nowhere and flew at him, possibly the fact that Henry did back away and not go in for the fight is when his ear got shredded, his ear was in tatters and the bite marks showed that the dog had gone back several times before my husband kicked it away.  I stood there like an idiot unable to believe my eyes, I did not restrain him in any way, but I do know that he would have run like the clappers had he not got his lead attached.

When the Lab attacked the other day I positioned myself between Henry's head and throat and the Lab, I couldn't care less if I get bitten, I will deal with that if it happens, but I will not have Henry put through any pain if I am in a position to prevent it...maybe I'm a very bad owner but I'd rather be that than a sad ex-owner of a dead dog!

I know you didnt get him til he was 13 months is that right? You have had him now... how long?


Can I be cross with you??? Why are you not teaching him recall? You have descrived your location. I wouldnt let you do anything until you had a good recall. Get practisinbg MRS!!

Ossian, you are jumping to conclusions there....this thread isn't about my ability to train my dog but about out of contol dogs that have attacked my dog, but I will answer your question :-)

I have owned Henry for 6 months now, he came from an excellent breeder but was kennelled for the first 13 months of his life, that said, he was and is a very happy dog who had a lovely life with his breeder, but is getting certain things that cannot be gained in a kennel environment when one of many.  In those 6 months we have had him we have transformed him into a dog that lives indoors, fully house trained and socialised, as well as being trained for the show ring and, to date, shown very successfully.  Also, something you won't know, aswell as Henry being attacked and not allowed any strenuous exercise for over 2 weeks, just one month after he was attacked I had my 2nd knee operation.  I struggled to walk him but was in no condition to run after him if he did decide to run off and play silly beggars.  My stepson doesn't live with us so is only around on walks a couple of times a month, and my hubby is a 24 hour locksmith so is on call and not normally around during the day to come out with us.  So for another 6 weeks after my operation he was on limited exercise through no fault of his own, but we did practice his recall using the training lead.

I didn't say Henry didn't have any recall, he is very good considering he is an English setter, possibly the best behaved I have owned over the years, and I have worked hard to achieve the level we have at the moment...however, he doesn't have 100% recall which is why I choose to let him off lead only when I am as sure as I can be that he will come to no harm.

I am personally very proud of how he has come on since we owned him, despite a couple of hiccups, and I know that his breeder is very happy with the life he has and how he is looking.

I am  cross at you Ossain,I think you are tactless.Sheree's dog was attacked .It is a known fact that animals(including us) will either fight or flight.Sheree knows her dog, as I know mine and although ,in normal circumstances, they can be recalled ,when they are attacked they may run .Ellie hides in bushes or whatever is available and Fred will run.Luckily Arthur has never been attacked and I hope he never will be.




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