Reactive dog(9 Posts)
Does anyone have a reactive dog and have you managed to resolve it?
Our rescue lurcher has been with us for 4 years - she was about 2 when we got her and apparently hadn’t had the best start having had 3 homes before us and spent time in kennels.
When we first met her she didn’t seem reactive - just happy and excited.
It also wasn’t immediately evident when we got her home but seemed to gradually get worse and when I got pregnant it ramped up and has never really stopped.
We tried socialising her, did some agility, paid for sessions with a trainer who advised us to carry a pocket of cheese and a clicker and use that when we encountered another dog to try and help her associate other dogs with a positive experience. I worked to an extent but not as much as we’d hoped and we sort of fell out of the habit which I recognise was a huge mistake.
It’s just so frustrating- you want to take her for a nice walk and she gets so wound up - the more dogs she meets. It stresses me out and there are many dogs in our area - always off the lead and running towards us while their owners try and fail to recall them (my dog is kept on the lead except when in a secure area).
What’s more frustrating is that I’m 100% certain she would never harm another dog - she’s all bark and often will start barking at a dog only to decide it’s her new best friend - she actually has lots of doggie pals of all shapes and sizes!
I just wish I could remove that stress from her. I’m going to go back to the clicker but o wondered if anyone else had managed to solve a similar issue and how?
Relatively mild case. Not cured, but improved vastly with exercise - walking to the point of exhaustion daily. I've heard good things about the CARE method, but I'm yet to implement it.
Reactive dog here and nope it's never likely to be resolved...
There are underlying health issues with my dog that will never be resolved and they're the root cause of his reactivity, so...
However, he's muzzled and on lead where there may be other dogs, that deters most owners from letting their dog come over, I walk in weird places at weird times... really late at night down the high street is a good one, lol, no-one else has dogs about then.
I hire a secure field regularly so he can play and be offlead outside of my garden.
And yes CARE or similar protocols do make a difference, so definitely worth working on without the underlying issues my dog has.
Clicker and treat when she sees other dogs will work, but the key is in the timing and judging how close you can get to other dogs whilst still being able to get her attention. Initially you may only be able to stay calm around dogs that are quite a long way away.
It's virtually impossible if you walk in busy places. . I take my reactive boy out at quiet times but am also lucky to also have quiet places to walk. I know if I turned up somewhere busy my boy would have a complete meltdown before we even got out of the car.
If he has a really bad day I give him a break from walking as going straight out again next day can make things even worse.
A lot of the battle is getting your dog to focus on you and getting her to trust you to keep her safe, so turn around if you see dogs you can't otherwise avoid, call out to people to keep their dogs away, but keep it cheerful or your dog will pick up on your stress.
We've just had a behaviourist in for DDog3 who sounds very similar to yours. I am fairly knowledgeable about dogs and have past experience of reactive dogs so for us it was more of a case of her pointing out the little mistakes and suggesting alternative techniques that we hadn't tried.
One of the best things so far is ensuring DDog3 is calm before we go out. At the moment that means no car journeys, always being walked first, no huge exciting build up etc. Secondly she has to walk nicely, as her train like pulling was causing huge amounts of adrenaline which exacerbated the problem.
We've also implemented a regime where DDogs barely get to sleep during the day as they have a constant supply of Kongs, chews, short walks, games etc so that DDog3 is mentally tired.
Overall we've seen improvements but I'm under no illusions that we can cure the problem, simply make it easier to handle. I regret not calling the behaviourist earlier, but I was too stubborn and couldn't see what she could do that I hadn't already tried. For now we will keep on keeping on though
Thanks all. I’m aware of the care approach - got organised today and took some cheese out for our walks and there was a huge difference so I just need to stick with that.
I don’t always have the luxury of controlling how close we get to the trigger but do what I can - just need to accept it’s probably never going to fully stop.
OP are you on FB? There's a fab group called Reactive Dogs UK which helped me out massively. My massively react boy was a rommie street dog so i had no clue his background, & oddly he has spent time in a compound with other dogs before being homed (he bounced twice before coming to me). We got good at stealth ninja walking tbh!
Things I found helped; lots of brain work before a walk, so he was mentally worn out a bit.
If you have a bad walk with lots of reactions, consider missing the next walk & doing brain training indoors instead - trigger stacking can take a while to recover from & the less recovery time, the more you're adding to an already large stack.
I found also that my boy responded better if I was in a calmer mood. Difficult sometimes (he was huge & had a lot of power behind him) but I made sure i had at least points of contact on every walk, lots of praise for doing simple things, lots of random chatter kept him a bit more focused on me.
I had him a year & in that time he dragged me across concrete face first, scaled 8ft fences if he heard other dogs & was generally a dick. The reactive dogs site helped massively just to reassure that it wasn't just us, as well as picking up some fantastic tips on managing yourself & how to manage arsehole dog owners on walks
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