I wondered if anyone else has ever experienced something like this.
Our dog is a rescue who has been professionally trained and socialized. She is generally quite calm, friendly and only interested in finding food or pigeons while we walk. However, in the past when we first got her, she was negatively reactive to certain situations due to her past life as a stray on the streets of Kigali. We make this very clear in both our description, pet info, and during online meets with potential sitters.
There are known residual triggers such as skateboarders, kids on scooters, loud/rambunctious groups of kids, fast-moving people in florescent clothing (like runners or cyclists if they pass very close) and some uniformed people like mail people or construction workers. We’re not sure why wheeled objects are such a trigger, but with kids it’s because they used to hit her with sticks and rocks back in Kigali. She was also hit by police who would round up street dogs to kill them.
If you give these situations a wide berth - just by walking a few feet away or crossing the road or standing aside with a shortened leash to let them pass - you don’t even have to worry about the potential of a negative reaction, such as jumping up, growling or anything else. It’s become second nature to us but we always make sure to communicate this clearly when we interview because not all sitters are used to walking a dog in an assertive way.
In June we had our 9th pet sit. Before we left I took the sitter on a walk with our dog, which I always do to make sure they understand things to watch out for - our dog will chase cats, eat garbage & dead animals, etc. so we like to show people how to be aware as well as demonstrate the commands we use.
We were away for a little over 1 week. When we returned we got an email from the sitter letting us know that while she was sitting for us our dog lunged at 3 people at different times. Two were joggers, one a kid on a scooter. She suggested we get a muzzle for our dog, which we did with consultation from our vet who directed us to the Baskerville type.
I’m not sure what to think, because our 8 previous sitters either never had an issue, or possibly never reported any issues back to us. We also have two dog walkers who we use who have never told us about any negative interactions.
I fully take to heart that it’s my responsibility as a pet owner to keep control over my dog and ensure a safe walking environment. But I’m struggling to understand if we just got someone who was very passive and inattentive while walking, or if we should ask future sitters to use a muzzle on our dog (who, in the 2 months since this experience, hasn’t had a single negative reaction while being walked either by me, my husband, or the dog walkers).
I’m afraid that if I mention using a muzzle, sitters may wrongly believe that we have an aggressive or dangerous dog. I’m also afraid of the stigma this might cause while walking. What would you do?