Dog terrified of other dogs - nightmare to walk!(4 Posts)
This issue really gets me down, please be kind. I have a 6 year old shih tzu who is and always has been very scared of other dogs and generally anxious. Despite trying to get her to socialise with other dogs she has never taken to it, has only played with 2 other dogs after repeatedly meeting them on walks. Dogs always on a lead, very good owners. I never used to find this too much of an issue as I could scoop her up or would always be walking in residential area so all dogs on leads and easily avoided. I suppose this has always stopped me really trying to address her fears, but she is so clearly scared it's not nice to put her through.
Now I live next to a park so naturally walk her there but can only do so with 18 month old DD in pushchair although she recently has started to want to get out and walk mostly. There are lots of dogs off the lead in this park (it's not a big park with lots of field, it's really more of a children's park and personally don't think this is the most appropriate place to let dogs off lead, we only walk around the path and are always ambushed) they are quite often running round like loons and nowhere near their owners. They run up to my dog and she tries to run away, they try to chase and won't leave her alone, all getting tangled round the pushchair. It's so difficult to manage while pushing pushchair too and even more with DD out the pushchair. Makes our walks very unenjoyable all around. Apart from not walking in the park, which won't really work either as DD won't be able to walk so will fuss, not sure if there's anything I can do?!
I think you need to work to gradually teach her that other dogs are safe to be around. I realise it's nice to walk in the park, but realistically all of those off lead dogs harassing you and your ddog are probably sending her anxiety levels through the roof, and most likely yours, too.
Ideally you need to find a reliable, qualified trainer yo help you, but realistically these are few and far between. If you can let me know a rough area I might be able to suggest somebody.
In the meantime, you need to work on building up her positive associations with dogs. Start with the two you know she's happy with. Arrange play dates in quiet areas. Take treats and do some fun training with her whilst the other dogs are around.
How is she if you see another dog on lead when you're walking down the streets? At what point does she react and what does she do? Start taking her for short lead walks at quiet times. Do some training / focus work when she clocks another dog, again building up positive associations.
You've got 6 years of fear reaction to undo, but it IS possible, with lots of care and patience.
I also have a fearful dog, she is terrified and I have found I have to be very assertive when walking her. It's up to you to protect your dog and I will put myself between my dog and others to stop them approaching (and then give owners an earful for not controlling the dog in the first place!)
The more you teach your dog that dogs will leave her alone and aren't a threat the better she will be, although it's hard as every negative experience that scares her reinforces that dogs are something to be frightened of and will set you back to square one.
I would try some behaviour training, treating her with something she loves when dogs are near so she associates dogs with something positive and never punish her for reacting badly.
I would also try and behaviouralist if you can afford it as they really help!
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