mad-dogging. The act of trying to stare someone down, or win a staring contest practiced primarily by young men. The goal is to stare and not to blink; if you blink, it is an acknowledgment of the other's dominance.
The practice—by this name anyway—appears to be most prominent in the Southwest and done as a prelude to violence. The Double-Tongued Dictionary's citation says that states that “In Albuquerque this is called ‘mad-dogging.’ The end result of this ‘mad-dogging’ is that one of the young men pulled a pistol and shot the other man in the chest killing him on the spot.” A Los Cruces [New Mexico] Sun-News report on gangs stated that Loma Heights Elementary School “was ‘a gang cauldron’ where by fifth-grade, reading groups had to be formed not by proficiency but by gang affiliation to avoid ‘mad-dogging each other across the reading table.’”
Dogs tend not to meet one another's eyes because instinctively they “interpret direct staring as a challenge.” Basically, by avoiding eye contact they are trying to avoid fights. Indeed, most advice about dogs is that it is a bad idea to try to stare one down unless it is your explicit goal to assert your dominance. Even then it can be risky. It seems clear that for the young men described in these news accounts, challenges to fight and assertions of dominance are the purpose of mad-dogging. Thus, in this case the term is well grounded in actual dog behavior.
1. Barrett, Grant. 2008. Mad-Dogging. Double-Tongued Dictionary. Accessed Jan 13 2009 from http:// www.doubletongued.org/ index.php/ citations/ mad_dogging_12/.
2. Glago, Tim. 2008. It’s time to move back to South Dakota. Daily Republic quoted in Barrett. 2008.
3. Meeks, Ashley. 2008. Gangs in Doña Ana County: What Can We Do? Los Cruces Sun-News. Accessed Jan 13, 2009 from http:// www.lcsun-news.com/ ci_11341162.
4. American Kennel Club. 2002. The American Kennel Club Dog Care and Training. 2d ed. New York, N.Y.: Hungry Minds. 90.