You talkin’ to me? – Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) in Taxi Driver (1976).
So, it happened again! Some big macho young male came swaggering up to little old Mr Spaghetti Legs, throwing its weight around and challenging the old boy, who was simply minding his own business. OK, he was really only interested in the food he knew I had in my pocket.
What is it with these guys? The owners always say, oh so proudly, that their dog is a dominant male, an alpha male, a boss dog. So? I have had an alpha male in the past (Jack) and I never let him go bothering other dogs. If they came and bothered him then fair enough! They got what they were asking for.
But here am I and my old boy, minding our own business, not challenging the other males at all, but here they come spoiling for a fight. How? They approach forcefully, stand sideways on to Mr SL, and square up, so we can all see how large they are! Yes, we know you are much bigger, younger and stronger than my old boy, so what is the problem here?
This has happened over and over, on walks, on a open field, at dog class. It has been the largest brown lab I have ever seen, another large black lab, a malamute etc. With the same result. The young pushy dog squares off against the old veteran and Mr SL growls at them to get lost. He is not looking for a fight. The owner of the other dog stands there, telling me how macho their dog is, and doing absolutely nothing to control their dog or the situation. It is always me who has to step in. I tell Mr SL to stop that, I’ve got this. I turn the bossy dog’s face away and march him back towards his doting push-over mum. And Mr SL and I walk away. No dog fight.
And they get pulled off by their dominant male on the lookout for the next challenge, because the real problem here is not how bossy their dog is, but how they, the owners, are in no way their dog’s leader.
post script: Fights often occur between dogs of the same sex, age and size, because it is not obvious to the dogs who is the more dominant. But sometimes they simply don’t like each other!