Reactive dog - what should I do differently?(17 Posts)
My beautiful rescue dog is a larger breed and is the perfect dog apart from when they're around other dogs but particularly terriers and toy breeds. As such we keep them on lead at all times, as advised by the rescue centre.
If we spot a dog on our walk before our dog does we spin her round and walk the opposite way. If we spot it too late we get our dog to sit and stand blocking the view to the other dog and get her to pay us attention while they walk past and loudly ask them to put their dog on lead if necessary.
All well and good so far, this works 99% of the time.
Today it didn't. I don't know if it was because the other dog walkers were older men with toy breeds (one had poodles the other papillon type things) or they were having a bad day or what but BOTH let their dogs go for mine on their extendable leads with no attempt to control them and BOTH blamed my dog when she reacted and said I should have my dog under better control!! Fwiw my dog is on a harness, and on a shorter non retractable lead. Neither dog Walker attempted to get their dogs under control and instead focused on trying to push mine away.
When my dog is in reactive mode they freeze to the spot and launch from there. They cannot be moved without considerable force.
The way I see it. They should have retracted their leads and kept walking past us and by stopping and keeping their snarling darlings near my dog they antagonised the situation.
What, if anything, could I or should I do in future to prevent this?
When you say reactive, do you mean that your dog will use her teeth and cause damage?
If this is your ultimate concern, pop a muzzle on her for the rare occasions that you can't control the situation, for example when bumping into numptys with yappy dogs out of control.
Sounds like you are doing a great job with her.
Could a yellow harness or bandana on your dog help?
I know your elderly dog walkers might not have heard of it, but even a few people being aware might help.
If I'm walking our neighbour's very reactive rescue dog, I tend to shout 'Sorry, rescue dog, unpredictable!' and people clutch their ShitzyPoos to their chests protectively and hurry away.
She hasn't bitten yet and no history of biting. All mouth and no trousers tbh! But yes I am worried about the potential to bite and then being blamed as she's a known reactive dog even though we do everything we can to prevent any issues
I have been reluctant to use a muzzle because it takes her defence away and makes her look dangerous to humans (she's not, she'll lick a person to death before shed hurt a person!) but think we might have to
The yellow marker is a good idea I'll give that a try
Even if your dog is just a bit gobby and isn't likely to bite a muzzle can work wonders for putting people off letting their dogs come over.
I've had huge success with my reactive boy using the CARE Method and the overall improvement does help how he reacts in those situations where a dog does get too close.
It sounds as if you're doing a great job of managing the situation but what you need to do now is change her emotional response to other dogs.
To start with you're going to use classical conditioning.
Start with her at a distance from other dogs where she's noticed it - but isn't close enough to be stressed/react.
The second she sees the dog - feed her multiple yummy food. Whatever she likes. Something really high value. When the other dog has passed - stop feeding.
It's really important you don't start feeding when YOU see the dog, before she has. It needs to be: she spots dog = food arrives. Dog leaves = food stops.
Once she starts to associate other dogs with something pleasant you could start to use operant conditioning (have a look for the Look At That game, AKA LAT) but to start with just concentrate on changing her thinking from "Omg other dogs" to "Yay! Other dog!!"
This absolutely works. It's worked on my dog who will never be a social butterfly but who can be walked, and train and compete around other dogs without being stressed (although she still won't tolerate rude dogs who wish to take liberties with her personal space but I wouldn't expect her to).
That sounds brilliant, Kermit, and I shall steal it immediately to use on NextDoorDog who loathes (in random order) buses, bins, golden retrievers, terriers, small dogs, cows, diesel cars and cats.
You need to be more forceful with other dog walkers. We have a grumpy old dog who won't tolerate young males running up to him and trying to jump on him. I yell "please call/get/move your dog, mine is not friendly!" I don't wait around to see how it will go. Some folk have zero common sense and can't read dogs.
Some people shout "He's infectious/got mange" at the owners of incoming dogs. That sometimes makes them get their dog back a bit more sharpish.
I've also had some success with chucking a handful of food into the face of an incoming dog. It can often buy you some time to move further away while the other owner catches their dog.
Also a really strong "watch me" can work well. If your dog and you are looking at each other an approaching dog will often lose interest if nobody is making eye contact with it.
However if the other dog is close enough that it's stressing yours, don't ask for a Watch Me - just work on increasing distance and feeding yours.
Well firstly, they were arses...technically having their dog on a lead isn't keeping it under control if it's just attached and they don't use it
As for the muzzle - occasionally I get people going muzzled dog, it must be dangerous, but I suspect some of those reactions are because of his breed as well (rottie) mostly they assume it's for dogs, (which works as most owners then avoid him as well as me avoiding them) and I have to go, no, he's not good with people either...sigh, it's rubbish having a dog that's bad with all the things, lol.
I think you need to rethink what you do in close proximity to other dogs. If your dog is fearful (which is the root of most aggression) then asking her to sit and look at you in the presence of another dog is likely to be increasing her anxiety and stress.
Imagine a lion was walking by you and you were terrified....how would being asked to sit still and NOT look at the lion make you feel. More scared, right? You need to let her assess the situation while using the approach outlined above by Kermit.
yep, treats every time. And if you can, keep the super-delicious treats exclusively for when you meet other dogs on walks.
I've done similar to kermit's suggestion. My dog is never off-lead (greyhound with prey drive), never vicious but is unpredictable around other dogs in terms of whether she'll say hello or warn them off if they approach her. It's a pretty minor issue for us though as she's not very reactive.
As soon as we see another dog on a walk I give her a treat. Now she looks to me for the treat and if she's not interested in the other dog we just walk by. Even if they are proper annoying buggers with crap owners, she's much happier and better behaved which makes it easier for me to holler at said crap owner to get said annoying bugger under control
Mine wears a muzzle as she loves to nip people and dogs and I often get people trying to stroke her on purpose, as if to prove some sort of point.
I do a sit and strong watch me. Mine is worse when moving, 100 times more reactive. Some are happier to sit and some aren't I guess.
I make everything really obvious. Call her back loudly, put on lead, move as far away as poss, ask for sit and watch. If the other dog seems to not be under control I will shout my dog isn't friendly or she will bite or something to that effect. Usually gets people moving. Mine is one of those breeds people love to be scared of though, I imagine it's not so easy with say a poodle or something.
this group has lots of useful advice and files, if you post your issue there.
Agree with blackfellpony about some dogs being better moving/being still. And sometimes that will depend on the situation.
For mine, when it comes to other dogs on walks, calmness is key. Dropping food on the ground in front of her encourages her to lower her head and sniff (which itself makes her look less confrontational from another dog's POV), happy, chatty "Aren't we having a lovely time?!" praise from me (but nothing too exciting or arousing).
However when training, then playing her past distractions and keeping her engaged with quick fire behaviours keeps her focus on me, especially since everyone else is doing the same.
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