Dear Labby: Big dog/small dog etiquette

Dear Labby,

I live in a community that has mainly small dogs residing in it, so my Alaskan Malamute stands out quite a bit. Sometimes when we encounter other dogs, he’ll want to sniff, or even play with them, but then the smaller dogs will go off for no reason and bite him. And he’s left standing there looking at me like, “What just happened?” One time, a dog even ripped off his dew claw.

There are no dog parks in my area, so I have no other way of socializing him. Do I simply just keep him away from all other dogs in my neighborhood or should I say something to the owners? I know that if he behaved as aggressively as the other dogs, people would certainly say something to me.


Bugged by Unkind Little Lapdogs Instigating Egregious Disputes

Dear Bugged by Unkind Little Lapdogs Instigating Egregious Disputes:

Your dog’s dew claw was torn off by another dog and you’re wondering if you should tell the owner? Let’s see, how should I put this… A thousand, million, trillion times YES. If the angry little yipper could rip the dew claw off a Malamute, imagine what she could do to the pinkie toe of a small toddler! Or a helpless fern! And where was the owner when this was going on–doling out matches to preschoolers?

Now here’s the thing, B.U.L.L.I.E.D.: You can socialize your dog without ever having to set foot in a dog park. Arrange supervised play dates with your friends or acquaintances who have dogs. Or, enroll in an obedience, agility, or canine good citizen class. This way, your big “scary” Malamute will get some much-needed positive dog-dog interaction, and you can learn how to help him appear less intimidating to those feisty small pups.

In the meantime, consider outfitting yours in a vintage “Make Wuff, Not War” t-shirt.