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Occasionally reactive dog... what to do?(5 Posts)
We have a two year old dog. He’s generally very calm and he rarely barks. We’ve often taken him out to coffee shops, pubs etc.
About 6 months ago we were in a pub and a dog came in and went for him. I thought it was my dog that had reacted and took him outside as calmly as I could. I made him sit, waited till he was calm and went back in through a different door. He then settled down and the other dog kept snarling. My friends told me that it wasn’t my dog that reacted initially (I couldn’t see the other dog but they could).
From then on our dog has become increasingly reactive when we are out. It only ever happens if we’re indoors and another dog comes in at which point our dog will jump up, rush towards the other dog barking and snarling very aggressively.
If there are other dogs inside when we come in to the pub/cafe the dog hardly registers them except sometimes having a mutual sniff.
Every time this happens I take the dog out calmly but quickly. Make him sit and go back in when he’s calm. He will then settle down and sleep until the next dog comes in.
I know that the obvious answer is to avoid this kind of situation which I will (for the short term) but I really want to get to the bottom of it and stop it happening.
Any advice on how I can do this?
My dog can be very similar, though he's usually OK so long as he's not the first dog into the place.
I suspect mine is resource guarding space from the other dog - he was the same in training classes, can be funny if I sit on a bench in the park for any length of time and another dog approaches (if I stand up and move a metre all is well...) and will resource guard sticks around other dogs (I banned sticks altogether). Cafes are usually alright if he's not the first dog in (dog sitter tells me he's fine at the cafe that has a wandering resident dog, for instance). I think he decides that a certain area of the cafe is his own personal territory and decides to guard it against other dogs
I've no real solutions to this (and resource guarding around strange dogs is a bugger to fix) but I do find that taking his favourite ball seems to help - it puts blinkers on him and he holds on to it for dear life so if he wants to bark he tries to do it with a ball in his mouth which is highly amusing to watch.
However, I suspect that as this relates to a specific incident it's likely fear based and may not be resource guarding. I'd recommend seeing an APBC or CCAB accredited behaviourist who will be able to work through this with you.
PS I'm not sure I'd call this reactivity as such - that's more a term used to describe dogs that reliably overreact to a certain trigger, regardless of circumstances (other than that a trigger sufficiently far enough away may not be threatening enough to cause a reaction).
For instance, mine is reactive towards Irish Wolfhounds (thankfully we haven't seen one since we moved house!). He'll kick off the second he sees one, regardless of circumstance, and not calm down until after it's out of sight.
On the other hand he likes everything from little fluffy dogs to great danes, so he'd be very polite with them in the park, but might be arsey if they came into the cafe after us and I wouldn't call that reactivity strictly speaking.
Similarly, my upstairs neighbour sometimes dog sits for a relative. If he walks that dog through the communal hallway mine will growl at the door to make sure his territory isn't invaded. However, when they met in the park they got on famously.
I hope you see the distinction I'm trying to make!
I would call it a reactive dog - the dog is reacting to a trigger.
I would work on this in outside areas first eg sitting in a cafe outside and if he sees a dog reward him. If he reacts make sure you reward him earlier when the dog is at a greater distance.
If he is calm in these situations then you can carefully move onto indoor areas BUT do make sure they are big areas and the dog coming into the room will be a long way from your dog - reward him when he sees the dog. Make sure you have an escape route and do not push on to fast with this.
If you feel unsure a one of session with a qualified behaviourist will help you with timing, distance and give you the skills to overcome this rather than make it worse with poor skills
This happened to my dps dog for a while after she got attacked. She then started being reactive to other dogs, but she seems to be ok now, it was a few years ago, but i still worry