To ask how you walk an extremely reactive dog(47 Posts)
I'm really struggling and could use some advice.
I have a lovely border collie who is reactive to everything on the lead, dogs, children, birds in the sky the list goes on.
He is the most affectionate dog at home with us and strangers.
I've been a really bad owner as it's just made me not want to take him out. He barks so loud and lunges.
He's absolutely fine off the lead at the beach and we make sure we go for long walks at the weekend but I know
He needs a walk everyday. We also play fetch in the garden in the day. I've also bought some games.
As a result of this he's very unfit and has put on weight as well so I've reduced his food.
I've tried taking treats out and distracting him with them but he's now associated treats with something that's going to make him anxious. Toys don't hold his attention very well.
I've paid to have a dog behaviourist come out but she follows the wolf theories which didn't seem to fit. There aren't any others that are around us.
Has anyone had a really reactive dog and has turned it around?
I haven’t but my dParents NDN’s have got a gorgeous dog who is quite reactive. Lovely at home though. They just walk Ddog at 6 am off lead at the beach.
I walk mine at 6 am. Although he’s not reactive to birds.
Can't you walk him off the lead every day?
My dog was badly attacked last year, and he's now very wary of other dogs.... plus we have a very timid puppy. I tend to walk early am, and off the beaten track from other walkers. I also have a yellow "nervous" bandana and lead for them both. You can get red ones that say "no dogs" on them.... most sensible owners are aware what they mean. And get a good harness so you feel secure that you can keep hold.... we've got Ruffwear ones.
Can you try and rent a secure dog field locally? Or find a local landowner who would let you use one of their fields that don't have public footpaths through? May be worth a plea on local FB sites or parish magazines.
My dog got a little bit pre-emptive reactive after being attacked by dogs so I took her to a training place where you have muzzles on them all and let them all off (in a contained space) and just walk round and round. The dogs follow and all walk round too and teach other dog manners while you all walk.
It seemed to help her, it gave her back some confidence.
Border collies need lots of stimulation, one walk a day for them isn't enough, is your dog from working stock OP?
Walk her on leash with a harness or off the beaten track where we are unlikely to meet anyone else. She’s a lot better these days those actually “asks” for a treat if she walks past another dog calmly.
The problem is over flaming owners. They see her on a short lead but still allow their dog to bounce on up to her, my dog tries to run away and lunges about on her leash which is a nightmare as she’s 6 stone +.
I've got a toddler so at the moment i can't go out with him really early in the morning and in theory I could walk him off lead everyday but practically I don't know if I could. I would also to need to wrangle them both. I could do an extra day though as my mum can come with me on Wednesday to help.
I could do the evening but worried I will annoy my estate as any noise really echos.
If you 'do' Facebook, try the Reactive Dogs (UK) page. I've found lots of their tips useful and they will help you find a postive, reward-based trainer/ behaviourist.
Scentwork is really good for tiring their brains.
Dogwalkingfields.uk have lists of secure fields that you can hire by the hour, for some safe off-lead fun.
Find an APDT trainer or APBC behaviourist to help you.
I think sometimes it is best to not walk a dog like this as much.... at least to start with as they need gradual (oh so gradual) increase in exposure to triggers and one bad walk can set you back to square one. Do as much as you can in the house and garden. Use kongs and training etc to make him work for all his food. Keep in mind that playing repetitive fetch can just wind them up more... play find it instead. Get some agility equipment for the garden.
They have a multitude of needs that a daily walk meets conveniently but they don't need a daily walk... they just need the needs met!
Nothing worked with mine. Rescue dog, too far gone. Everything tried made the dog so distressed & I'm not kidding when I say we tried everything (sedatives, distraction techniques, different behaviourists, special equipment etc). Border collie too. I did early morning and late night walks and spent my life ducking round bushes! Rented secure fields every week and spent loads of time doing games and puzzles at home. I found it very stressful and distressing and broke my heart over that dog.
@MadMillie no he's not from working stock and has always been pretty lazy. He's more couch potato then worker.
He didn't used to be so reactive but we lived on a farm for 4years so had all the outside time and exercise he wanted but we've now moved back to civilianisation and that's caused the problems.
If I could go back in time I would have done differently.
I got him when I was younger probably a bit to young
Walk early, and take lots of cheese! We are lucky in that our estate has lots of possible routes but we often spend walks doubling back on ourselves or hiding up side streets to avoid other dogs. We also hit the park early or on weekdays when there are less other dogs around. Mine is "only" dog reactive but will snap and lunge if another dog stares at her or gets too close and she's a big lump so can be tricky to handle. It's tough isn't it . Our behaviourist basically said any improvements are likely to be small as it seems she wasn't socialised properly as a pup (rescue) so all we can do is learn to handle it.
Industrial estates are usually good if there's one near you, especially on weekend mornings.
I took some comfort in the fact that experts told me that actually, a bc doesn't necessarily need to be physically worn out but mentally worn out. Like I say, I did endless games with him in the house and garden. It was the best option for this particular dog.
Thanks @AutisticPenguin I think that's the issue when I've tried to get out with him in the past. I think he gets more nervous the longer I'm out. Maybe I just need to do 5 min walks at a time
@RuggyPeg I'll try and up his mental stimulation. I fear he's to far gone aswell.
I feel absolutely awful it's got this bad. He is content at home and has no other issues ie destructiveness but is missing out on outside time
How long have you had your dog OP, and is it your first collie? Because they're generally not suited for this sort of life ie mostly lead walks in towns. They need to run a lot and need mental stimulation (not stress) or they often become really reactive and sometimes aggressive. I've had two and neither of them ever did really stop being nutters on the lead but learnt to be brilliant off it. Sorry if that's not very constructive, but a lot of people think you can teach a collie to behave like a labrador for example, and you often just cant.
Sorry just read your updates, you obviously do know about collies.
He's an intelligent working dog, try taking him to agility classes and then train him at home. We had a border bearded collie cross from 7 months. She was good as gold with dh but a right terror with me. So try that with him.
What was a problem was she wanted to herd and she would nip at dcs. She became a lovely dog though.
We had a reactive dog and our behaviourist told us to stop thinking we had to take her out for a walk as it was too stressful for her (and me). She was a lazy dog anyway and we just use to walk her in fields rurally to us. After about a month of letting her reaction hormones die down we started doing some desentisation training with her, it helped but certainly didn’t cure! Ironically the one thing that helped the most was getting a puppy, the puppy taught her how to be a dog and play and although unconventional was a real game changer for us!
Collies need a job for their mind. Enrol in some classes. Agility would be ideal but to be honest anything is better than nothing.
The reactivity is prob being made worse from a lack of exercise and frustration
Yes, industrial estates! I forgot about them. I spent many an hour walking on industrial estates! Especially at the weekend. Never once felt unsafe, as that dog was seriously wild towards other people and no way would anyone ever approach! I occasionally took my life in my hands and took him out on my bike, to run the legs off him but my god, that was like playing Russian roulette with my life!
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