today i was running a garage sale at my sister's house. naturally, i was scoping the street on the lookout for potential vict--- passersby. an elderly gentlemen was coming our way with one of those little yappers - i didn't have my glasses so they were pretty close before i could determine it was a shi-tzu. when the man saw me, he jerked on the leash - little light quick pops, over and over, saying "no, buster, no. no, don't you dare. buster, stay here". he'd been doing that all the way up the road but when they got close, i could see the little dog flicking toward him every time he leash popped or spoke and the behaviour would get that little bit worse. sometimes it was the whole head making a quick jerk to the side, but more often it was the right ear or the eyes giving a sidelong glance. as they drew up, the man said "oh, i love garage sales - i see some very interesting things here but i don't dare come in - he'll bite you." i said "i'm very experienced with dogs - if you want, we can talk." he said "i don't think there's any hope - we've been to three obedience classes and he's been kicked out of every one because he just won't listen." all this while, he's hauling back on the flexileash and popping it at the same time and his dog is rearing up and choking himself. "tell you what, just ease off the leash there. just give him some breathing room. it'll be fine." and i sat down on the ground facing sideways to the dog. "i don't want him to bite you - i'm very nervous of that." "if he nips me, he nips me - but i have to tell you, i don't think your dog is aggressive. he's loud and he's got bad manners, but he definitely does not want to eat my face. ease off the leash and let him come over. he'll give me a good sniffing over and either he'll rub into me and ask for pets or he'll ignore me and go his own way." finally, i convinced him and the minute the tension was off the leash, the dog fully relaxed. his ears went down, his fur went down, and his tail dropped to neutral. i kept facing sideways, not looking at him, but made my voice warmer as i talked to the owner. the dog came up to me, gave me a righteous sniffing, then licked my forearm and carried on to sniff the tree. "i don't believe it! it's exactly as you said!" i told the guy that it's not about "fixing the dog". i asked him if your car was not doing what you want it to do, what would you do? he said "take it to the mechanic". i said right - the mechanic repairs what's broken or replaces a part or adjusts some settings and the car will return to proper performance. "would you take your 2yr old to the doctor if he was not doing what you want?" he said "no, i would find out why he is behaving that way." i smiled and said "same thing. you cna't take the dog to classes when you are convinced the dog will attack and you don't trust him. he knows you are worried - everything about you says you are frightened. he knows he isn't the problem but you are afraid, so he goes on high alert bec obviously there's a threat somewhere near by. when you haul back on the leash, you are telling him THERE is the threat and he responds." we chatted some more and all the while his dog was perfectly normal - sniffing here, piddling there, and rolling in the grass snorting like a little piggy and his tongue lolling out.