Toby screamed at my friend today. If he had wanted to bite her, he would have. He had plenty of opportunity. But allow me to rewind.
Toby is leash reactive to other dogs. He's not dog aggressive, just leash reactive. Or any type of restraint reactive. This has carried over to human interactions once, but it was at night, the person was in black from head to toe and being very awkward. Whatever. Never had another problem. I have worked with him on this a LOT. We had a lapse lately, I will admit, where we haven't been going out and training. But I am pretty in tune with his body language and have a decent idea of his intentions.
Toby has met people countless times here at home, even while I've held on to his collar, and it's never been a problem. I only hold on to him because if not, he has bad manners and jumps all over them until he has calmed down. He's always just smiles and fun times.
The girl that I planned on living with next year came over to go on a walk with us. He's met her before, no problems. She got here before I expected her, so I made a few key mistakes. I didn't put Toby in my room until she got inside. This usually helps him stay calmer when greeting people. I also left my roommate's dog in her room, but didn't think she'd be able to open the door and get out, which she did. And finally, Toby is not great with kids. They're awkward and he's had some bad experiences. My friend is pretty tiny. Also it was pretty dark in the entrance to my house, I didn't have the light on. So not really the best of scenarios... I'll admit.
My friend (we'll call her M) came in and the dogs go nuts. My roommate's dog is horrible about jumping on people when they come in, so when she opened the door and went nuts, I grabbed her collar. I also had a hold of Toby's. I told my friend that I was going to let go of Toby to put Tilly away. When I let go of him, he get zoomy level excited and jumped all over her, then started barking while doing it. I put Tilly in the room and reached and grabbed Toby. At that point, he jumped up screaming at her with his dog reactive scream. Greeeat. I was like.. WTF? and put him in my room. I explained that he probably just got too excited and when I restrained him, made him a little reactive. After a few minutes, we went into the kitchen, turned on the light and I went back and got Toby. She approached him, talking, petted him on the head, and I noticed that he was beginning to get very tense (I had a loose hold of his collar, so he didn't feel restrained). I was just about to tell her to back up when he jumped up and screamed again. I put him back in my room.
This time we waited about twenty minutes while Toby was in my room and we talked and brainstormed. I talked to Erin about ideas. With her idea, we went outside. M stood on the other side of the fence and I had Toby on a long rope just for extra safety, but there was no tension on it. Toby was totally relaxed. His whole body wagged loosely with his tail, instead of a stiff tail wag. He sat, laid, spoke, etc for her. After awhile, she came IN the yard. Totally fine. Loose relaxed posture, totally friendly. We decided to go back inside and get ready for our walk. We chalked it up to the environment at the time and the energy. When we were inside, he was still fine. And when I say he was fine, I say it with confidence. His body language was very casual and relaxed. I put his harness on him, got him ready, and he started getting more excited. M stood up and Toby went to jump on her, I reached him to stop him, and when I pulled him back, he started barking again. I sort of figured it wouldn't help to pull him back, but frankly, I didn't want her to get hurt, intentionally or unintentionally. Toby can hop to her face
Seconds later, he was back to a loose posture. We decided to just go walking and see how it went. The walk was fine. He never once acted reactive towards her, she did walk behind us a lot, the trail was narrow.
I'm just not positive where to go from here. Obviously if this happens again, a trip to the vet is in pretty quick order, but to me it just seems to be a reactivity issue. I am going to be talking with my roommates about their interactions with Toby, make sure no one is inadvertently teasing him, etc. I just had another friend come over to pick something up and I had her feed Toby some treats (she's been around him many times) and he was perfectly fine with her, even when I was holding onto his collar.
However, when I write all of this out, I realize all of the things I did wrong. So I am really hoping it was just a matter of human error and reactivity combined, and that we'll still be able to live together. M is coming over again in a few days or so to meet him again and see how he does when he doesn't have that initial bad experience. Usually once he's reactive once, it takes him longer to settle down. I guess I am posting for any thoughts or advice. I realize I did a lot of things wrong (and have been doing them wrong...) but I think it's always important to get outside views.