My dog was on the lead for a reason!!!

(28 Posts)
NurseRosie Thu 25-Feb-16 21:44:07

I love dogs. I love most dog owners but not all. I'm having a problem with my 2 year old Cockerpoo. She is unsociable and snappy with unknown dogs. She has never bitten, just gets stressed and barky. What can I do? I've approached a dog trainer about it.
I get really upset when other dog owners get offended by her behaviour, but do people not understand that when she is on the lead, it's for a reason? A lot of owners will still let their dog approach and then get pissy if I'm not quick enough to react and she freaks out.
Most of the time she is fine when off the lead with her friend for support, she just goes back on when big dogs are about. I try to walk her in quiet places.
Could it be anxiety?
She is a very loving and cuddley dog, great with children and a real character. Almost perfect but how can I help her be calmer?

suz1rr Thu 25-Feb-16 22:34:06

Not advice as such, but have a look at this website, the yellow dog scheme, to let other owners know that your dog doesn't like to be approached by others dogs they don't know, whether its because they are fearful, aggressive or perhaps recovering from surgery etc. Can pop a bandana, jacket or a lead on your dog to let other owners know. www.yellowdoguk.co.uk/

NurseRosie Thu 25-Feb-16 22:43:59

That's really helpful, thank you. I think pooch would suit yellow x

Lokibuddyboo Fri 26-Feb-16 02:39:06

I would also recommend the yellow lead idea.
Although some owners will still let their dogs run up to you off lead but it might stop them being pissy with you if you don't react quick enough.
I have the same problem with my little ddog great off lead but on lead he just doesn't like being approached by strange dogs especially big bouncy ones off lead.
I hate it when he's going nuts growling and barking trying to get away and a another dog is not getting the message and all the owner does is shout oh don't worry hes friendly he only wants to play.
It pisses me off as my dog is terrified it's not fun for him.
Some owners are just irresponsible they have no idea why another dog is on lead but think it's fine to let their ill mannered dog off lead to bother other dogs just because "he's friendly"

MardAsSnails Fri 26-Feb-16 03:52:00

I have this too

A woman shouted at me the other day after I asked her to keep her dog away from mine. ('This is a 'community', there's no need to stop our dogs from playing. Why are you so snotty about your dog?'). Before i could explain that my dog was unpredictable, hers decided to pull towards my EvilDog and got barked and snapped at. Then my bollocking was for not controlling my dog 'in the community'.

Also the man with the bouncy lab puppy. I was out with my two dogs, both on lead, his pup was off lead and started bouncing towards us. I shouted over for him to call his dog back as mine was aggressive at times. He started a pathetic 'buster, buster come here' and a slight jog after the dog who kept bouncing up to us. I got hold of my dog, who is fairly big (she was stood on her back legs trying to get to bouncy buster) and kept hold of her, snarling. And bouncy buster kept jumping up to play!

I've had the trainer round. As she was a rescue dog he's seen lots of anxiety in her. She doesn't know how to sniff dog buns to get to know dogs, and freaks out when other dogs do it to her. She's never been socialised and we're now trying to teach her. He thinks she's extremely insecure. It's taking a lot of work, but it's been 4 walkies since she's snapped in the general direction of another dog despite meeting 11 on one walk last night.

Our advice was to first get her calm when other dogs are around. Getting her to sit calmly whilst others pass, with some distraction (touching her ears, making a few noises, keeping her attention on us). Once she's mastered that, we're to try keeping her the same but asking other owners to bring their dogs a little closer (3-4m away when they walk past). All the time standing right by her, touching her, talking to her, letting her know we're there. Gradually building up to introducing the dogs. He's suggested we hold her by her collar for this and direct her nose to dog bums, again reassuring her and talking to her.

We've just started this. Fingers crossed its going to work, for our sanity and for our girls sanity

Dinglethedragon Fri 26-Feb-16 04:31:39

I've had two dog reactive dogs so know exactly what this is like. I found a muzzle on my dog was the most sensible option. It gave me more confidence that if they were to react they couldn't do any harm, I got less anxious and the dogs were calmer. The other tip is to walk the dog in an area where there are not many dogs or its dogs on leads only. My current boy is a friendly steady 9yr old, easily distracted with food so I can keep him away from dogs on leads in an area where all dogs are usually off lead - but when he was a bouncy youngster just being trained it was very stressful trying to do that.

mollie123 Fri 26-Feb-16 07:00:22

this gets me too - along with the accusation that their dog behaving by bounding up is 'because yours is on the lead - you should train him properly'
- hmm

MaynJune Fri 26-Feb-16 07:40:43

'He's just being friendly.' 'He just wants to play.'
Many dog-owners are clueless. Your dog could be on the lead because he runs away, is recovering from surgery, lots of reasons.
The dog on the lead is the one under the owner's control.

Toooldtobearsed Fri 26-Feb-16 07:43:04

I have the utmost sympathy OP, and I say that as the owner of two bouncy, thick as pig shit labs.

If I see ANYONE with a dog on a lead, my two go straight on theirs, because I can guarantee that they will be a total pita, wanting to play and not getting 'the message'.

I had mine out really early one morning and was on the way back to the car when I saw a chap and his dog coming towards me. I got my two to heel and checked to see if his dog was on lead. It was not, it was running around having a fine old time. I let mine go. Just as they approached his dog, he put her on lead and proceeded to scream abuse at me and my dogs. I called them back and they came, put them on leads and was bristling with indignation.
When we drew level, he told me he had not seen me and if he had, would have shouted, as his dog reacts very badly to others, snapping at them and getting distressed, hence his reaction.

I am so used to meeting other dogs off lead on this walk, at this time of day. They all know each other and chase, tumble and play together, I got caught out I am afraid.

Don't know why I am posting this..... maybe just to say that not all owners with dogs off lead are irresponsible....honestly smile

Greyhorses Fri 26-Feb-16 08:19:49

You need a scarier looking dog wink

In all seriousness I know how you feel. I have one who is very terrified of other dogs and looses her mind when dogs approach her. She would bite another dog if it didn't go away and every time this happens this upsets her for ages, she was attacked so has fear aggression.

I have spent lots of time with treats etc which work but if I have a very persistent dog coming up to her I generally put my dog behind me and growl at the other dog to go away...most of the time this does work. I found that if I took control my dog didn't feel like she had to as much? If I stand in front of her when a dog passes she is generally a bit calmer too. I don't particulally like confrontation but I have become much more forceful in telling people not to touch her or asking owners to put dogs on lead. If this fails shouting my dog is aggressive usually works, if not the dog looking like it is going to eat the off lead one usually gets them running blush

I also use a headcollar so I have a little bit more control and use a yellow lead and collar. I also have a harness vest type thing for very public places that says something along the lines of give me space. I am not sure how well it works but people are more apologetic when dogs jump all over her. I think if your dog was on the lead and the other is not it's their fault anyway.

Have you tried consulting a trainer? It's not cheap but I felt it gave me more confidence and some tips to keep her under control.

Pacothepidgeon Fri 26-Feb-16 08:30:43

This really annoys me! I rescue staffies and sadly one had been attacked by two other dogs. He became very anxious for a period of time whenever he would see another dog. We keep him on the lead anyway (poor recall, still thinks he's a stray!) but I have got fed up of the amount of people who let their dogs jump all over a dog on the lead, can't recall them and insist their friendly hmm

Anyway we got him over his fear of other dogs by not going to places dogs are off the lead until he could see another dog on a lead without barking at it. If we saw another dog we would do "watch me" then moved on to walking passed on opposite side of road until he could do that quite happily again.

NurseRosie Fri 26-Feb-16 08:39:08

Great advice everyone. I have asked a trainer for advice and some training, just waiting for the shock of how much it'll cost me.
I will try the yellow lead thing.
I feel really embarrassed when she snaps but can see that she is nervous.
I'll try to walk her in quiet places at quiet times.
She has not been spayed yet (booked in in April). Might this help settle her?

Spanielcrackers Fri 26-Feb-16 08:47:35

One of my spaniels is reactive. A gormless great lump of a labrador ran up my drive when he was a puppy and jumped all over him. As a result he is reactive when on the lead. He is fine off the lead because he can take himself to a distance where he feels comfortable.
I've worked with a behaviourist and he is much more relaxed however, it just takes one negative encounter and he is a nervous wreck again.
Yesterday, as I turned out of my drive I saw a dog walker with a Golden Retriever approaching. To avoid a reaction from my dog I took him back up my drive to sit him at a comfortable distance while I distracted him with treats. The Golden Retriever was off it's lead and bounced up my drive. It stressed my dog out, who reacted by barking and leaping at the GR. The GR's owner then gave me the stink eye.
My dog wears a yellow coat and lead with "NERVOUS" all over them. It helps a little but there is a small minority who insist their dog is friendly and can cure him.
I am going to enroll him in a "Reactive Dog Class" with a different behaviourist.
In the mean time I try to walk him on lead in places where I should only meet other on lead dogs so I can control his exposure. Unfortunately, because I live on a quiet road on a popular dog walking route, I have frequent encounters with off lead dogs at the end of my drive.

Veterinari Fri 26-Feb-16 08:57:38

Hi Nurse

It sounds as though she is fearful. How old is she? Spaying can increase reactivity in bitches so I would hold off that for a while until you have this problem sorted. Dogs also go through a secondary socialisation period at the time of puberty so this can be a chance to build confidence.

Is she always leashed? You might find it helpful to muzzle her (for safety) but walk her off leash. Dogs on leads greet each other differently (more head on and confrontational) than dogs off lead (more sideways and natural), leads also prevent the 'flight' part of the fight or flight response and so don't leave here with any option but to snap if she's nervous. Additionally if you're a bit anxious you'll tension the lead and transmit this to your dog, so you might find that she's happier off lead.

If you're not comfortable with that approach then ensure you always have yummy treats with you and reward her for calm behaviour as other dogs pass by.

NurseRosie Fri 26-Feb-16 09:33:18

She is 2. She loves being off lead but I tend to put her on when around unknown dogs as she has snapped before when off lead. A muzzle might be good but I'd worry what people would think of a dog running free with a muzzle on. It would prevent her from snapping though and let her have the freedom she loves.

I have noticed that she can be a bit jealous. If my mums dog comes for cuddles, she has been known to bark at her as if she isn't wanted. She is not like this with people although her and DH are having a love affair, it's like I'm the other woman sometimes.

Owllady Fri 26-Feb-16 09:40:05

It annoys me that people let dogs off lead when they can't confidently recall them.
My dog is a bit like scrappy do too on occasion

Godstopper Fri 26-Feb-16 09:44:10

The yellow lead has helped us a little.

I've developed a thick skin: people are given fair warning, and them's the breaks if their dog gets too close and mine reacts. It's not me unable to recall my dog and causing hassle, is it? I used to apologize, but no: it is very scary for some dogs to have something in their face (you would likely kick off if someone did the same to you).

As a last resort, I pick her up (BT).

Play the Look At That Game. Scrabble now looks to me for a treat when we see a dog instead of staring and getting more worked up.

Don't think there is a cure. But small improvements that really add up is realistic. We're two years into this, and it took about a year for us to really turn a corner.

Veterinari Fri 26-Feb-16 11:36:27

Lots of dogs run off-lead with muzzles - usually if they're a bit fearful, or squirrel/cat chasers or garbage-scavengers. Muzzles can be a useful tool in protecting a dog during training.

Rather than putting her on the lead around unknown dogs can you recall her and reassure/reward her for calm behaviour?

It sounds as if she's very people-focussed. Could you use your mum's dog to do some socialisation training with her? Call them both to you and give delicious treats/attention that she only gets when another dog around (take care she doesn't treat-guard first). If you can do this and minimise the amount of attention she gets 'on-demand' (rather than as a result of good behaviour) you'll see that she'll quickly associate other dogs with positive things, and takes her cues from you.
It might be worth doing some reading on 'learn to earn'
www.apbc.org.uk/articles/learn-to-earn-is-nothing-in-life-free-for-dogs
drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/the-learn-to-earn-program

Notonaschoolnight Fri 26-Feb-16 11:45:33

You sound like me toooldtobearsed we appreciate what it must be like to have a nervous dog when we have mega playful friendly ones and we try to do the right thing but every now and again get caught out as esp if someone come from behind you etc and you don't see them in time

MarcoPoloCX Fri 26-Feb-16 14:47:22

The yellow ribbon or jacket signal that your dog needs space. YellowDogUK also sells leads and T shirts that owners can wear. Hopefully people can see and act accordingly.

As mentioned before , there are various reasons why you would want space for your dog. It could be nervous, fearful, reactive, boîsterous, aggressive, injured, recovering from op, in season, in training, or the owner just manages the dog better on lead, you just don't know.

There are behaviourist who are against the use of yellow ribbons.
Their reasoning is that not everyone is aware of it means and also are you kinda admitting liability if your dog attacks or reacts to another dog. Their beliefs is that if your dog is not comfortable with other dogs, then it's your responsibility to give it space and not allowing other dogs to approach.

Also they believe people will use the yellow ribbon exclusively to avoid dogs at all time and not train and desensitise their dogs to triggers/other dogs.

NurseRosie Fri 26-Feb-16 14:53:09

I'm looking fir a long term change but I think the yellow ribbon will help until she feels better. I've contacted someone about 1:1 training.

She's a funny little dog but so lovely. Best thing I've ever bought, lol.

HenDogismylife Sat 27-Feb-16 17:50:39

Henry wears a yellow harness with nervous printed on it, a yellow dog bandana with give me space on it and a muzzle but still some dog owners allow their off lead dogs to run at him. Or cross directly in front of us. I know that it is my responsibility to keep him under control and because of this I will always cross over or turn him round to avoid confrontation but sometimes I feel like screaming at the inconsiderate arses.

On a side note I have perfected my PA smile for when people glare at us as we walk past ( him perfectly calm and walking to heel)

Squigglybear Sat 27-Feb-16 18:37:32

I would suggest a behaviourist. You may be suprised what they pick up on as you may be unwittingly contributing to her issues. My Lab is funny with some dogs as many dogs we met in the park when she was young were barky and aggressive. She will bark at mainly men wearing glasses and hats...weird. We will spay her soon but in season she is very antisocial and easily spooked. My other dogs is fine though but to be fair she hasnt met any aggressive dogs.

NurseRosie Sat 27-Feb-16 19:26:48

You may be right. I do get anxious about her reaction when she is approached. Maybe I'm giving her a sense of my stress.
It's her Birthday tomorrow, taking her for a good long walk, I'll try to stay calm and see how she it x

Anotherwriter Sun 28-Feb-16 19:42:39

Unfortunately we found YellowDog more of a hindrence as owners would approach us to specifically ask us what it was about.

I know they meant well but hmm

The therapist we hired for our DD said that doggy-etiquette states if you see a dog on a lead, you're supposed to put yours on one too.

It's a shame our dogs are like this - in his home environment & with dogs he knows, our dog is beautiful.

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