On my walk down town last week, I pass a man on central walking 2 dogs. As I pass him and his dogs they go wild and start growling, barking and lunging at me, all the while he is holding on to the leashes trying to hold them back.
Then after I'm a block away, I hear him yell "GOD DAMMIT!". He then starts yelling at the dog, calling him, trying to get him to stop. As I turn around I see a large dog who is running straight at me with his leash flapping in the breeze.
The dog gets to me starts jumping and snarling at me. He managed to grab a hold of my headphone cable and ripped my iPod Nano 4G out of my pocket onto the ground. The owner finally caught up with the dog and after a little effort got a hold of him.
I looked at the now restrained dog and said "Bad dog!". The owner asked if I was ok, I said "yes i'm fine".
Now what if I was a kid?
It's sad that many people don't have what it takes to be effective disciplinarians for their large dogs. You've got to be aggressive/assertive and have what we in the Army called "a voice of authority" that differs from the voice you normally speak to them in. Not abusive, but you have to make it very clear that you are in charge and the animal does what it's told without discussion. You've got to discipline them when they're young as they're growing up, so that when they are adults, they know that when you speak, they listen, or there will be consequences. I have two dogs, one of them is a hound/hunting dog and is only about 10 months old, and weighs about 50 pounds. Already however, I've gotten him to a point where we can spend the whole day running through the woods together and have a big old time, I'll bring him the house for a few minutes sometimes just to sit and pet on him, and he's very protective of our little boy and our smaller dog. But if I speak in a certain voice, his entire body posture changes and he does exactly what he's told, even if that means stopping mid-stride when he's chasing something he shouldn't be. A lot of people don't know how to assume that authoritative position and assert themselves as the one in charge of the relationship, and when they can't do that, the dog feels like it's the one calling the shots and can do what it wants, and once they grow up to adulthood feeling that way, it's harder to break them of it.
In this case I'm torn. You can't have an animal that has killed a human being be allowed to think that it's acceptable, or that the worst thing that's going to happen is a spanking, but at the same time, the animal was acting according to its instincts and protecting its family from an unfamiliar creature that seemed aggressive at the moment. Glad I wasn't the one that had to pull the trigger.