Off-lead dogs approaching my reactive dog

(61 Posts)
xorose Mon 29-Jul-19 20:54:22

I have a three year old Maltese who has always been nervous around other dogs and despite previous attempts at socialising him and using positive conditioning he is still very reactive towards other dogs and will bark at them. For this reason he is always kept on a lead, wears a yellow harness and is walked at quiet times. However, it is getting more and more common that other off-lead dogs approach him despite his bright yellow harness which says "KEEP AWAY".

I walk him around parks and off-lead dogs come bounding up to him whilst the owner tries to call their dog back which the dog completely ignores. I walk him around quiet residential streets at quiet times and three times (!) in the last month dogs have come bounding out of their owners houses straight up to my dog, even crossing busy roads to get to him.

The dogs just bound straight up to him, ignoring his barks. I then just feel so helpless, I tighten my dogs lead so he is at my ankle and try and change directions but we are circled by a dog incessantly trying to reach my dog. It happened earlier today and afterwards I literally shake like a leaf as I just feel so helpless and vulnerable when there is a dog there and my dogs barking is escalating I also always feel guilty so I apologise to the other owner like I have done something wrong despite having control of my dog and loudly and clearly warning owners that my dog does not like other dogs.

I am so fed up with it. I can understand if it was happening at busy parks frequented by dog walkers (which is why I avoid those areas), but walking around a quiet neighbourhood at dusk when there is nobody around and yet nearly once a week a dog will run out someone's front door towards us.

Does anyone have any advice?

OP’s posts: |
HappyHammy Mon 29-Jul-19 20:57:08

Poor dog. It must upset you both. Should he be wearing s muzzle.

StarGOLD Mon 29-Jul-19 21:01:35

You are not alone. I let people see me putting my dogs on their leads but theirs still bound up wanting to say hello. My dogs will react straight away, they don’t like it... I’m running out of places to walk..I ask them to call their dogs in but invariably they just say ‘oh they’re friendly don’t worry’..Tiresome.

YouJustDoYou Mon 29-Jul-19 21:02:20

My rescue dog was like this. Poor thing had to be muzzled against fuckwit dog owners (if I heard one more shrill trilling laugh of "oh my little Poopsie is just plaaaaaying"....white hot rage). It sounds like you're trying your best with him. It may be he has to be muzzled - or you just shout KEEP YOUR DOG AWAY, IT'LL GET BITTEN everytime they don't listen. It;s so hard, and it's why I wish so much for lead laws.

missbattenburg Mon 29-Jul-19 21:05:45

Look at the owner, point obviously at your dog and yell "he's really contagious!!!"

Then watch those other owners shift like greased lightening to get their dogs away.

Teacakeandalatte Mon 29-Jul-19 21:12:58

I know what a problem this can be. People need to keep their dogs away from dogs on leads.
Having a muzzle on your dog might help you feel calmer as you know your dog can't do anything wrong. Its important to be calm and in control as your dog will pick up on that and other dogs too. Dogs can be trained to like the muzzle with plenty of treats while they are wearing it. So your dog wouldn't feel unhappy wearing it once you get him really used to it.
Another thing you can do is train your dog to stand behind you while you confidently stand up blocking the other dogs and saying no firmly. Also train the dog to turn away and follow you easily if the other dog is far enough away.
I also think you have been a bit unlucky to meet lots of off lead dogs on quiet streets so try not to worry about that too much.

gettingtherequickly Mon 29-Jul-19 21:15:07

It's awful isn't it. I now muzzle my dogs to avoid them doing any serious damage to off lead dogs who are allowed to run up to mine.

Unfortunately you can't control other people.


Blutopia Mon 29-Jul-19 21:19:54

I've had the EXACT same problem with my terrier. For 12 years.

I now only walk her at 6am, and never go anywhere where a dog could be off lead. Ever.

Simple, boring, but effective. She's started way too many scraps and come off worst to take the risk.

FunkySnidge Mon 29-Jul-19 21:28:00

If a dog bites it should have a muzzle on so everyone can relax and you aren’t having to string up a barking dog which just makes the behaviour and anxiety worse for dog and owner.
I know it’s annoying for you and incredibly stressful and I have also had a reactive dog who i worked so carefully with to try and resolve his fear and reactive behaviour.
However ultimately, the other dogs are not doing anything wrong. They are being normal. They can’t read your yellow equipment, they can only read your dogs language (and that isn’t putting them off so it does make me wonder if you are over anxious?). Why should the rest of the happy friendly dog world change to suit the non social dogs?
You aren’t going to retrain all the other dog owners to keep their friendly cheerful dogs away from you.
So pop a muzzle on your dog, relax a bit, and find other dogs to actively walk with so you and your dog can learn how to mingle.
Or walk in non public places.

whotheeff Mon 29-Jul-19 21:31:56

Completely empathize. My Dutch Shepherd is very anxious around other dogs. I hate how many dogs are off lead here. In the USA it's really rare and much easier when everyone walks with a leash. It's caused me huge anxiety as he's a huge dog and I feel vulnerable trying to keep him moving around other dogs. I always feel like it's my fault.

WashingMyHair247 Mon 29-Jul-19 21:32:11

Had this today. I put him on his lead and kept my eye on the other walkers I could see approaching. Their two very adorable but out of control dogs circled me, wanting to play with my very old, antisocial rescue dog. He doesn't react straight away, he just tries to move away. But dogs don't read those cues, so they keep on at the unwilling dog, and the next step is my dog will start growling. They managed to retrieve their dogs before there was any snapping. I did explain briefly that he's not sociable. I was cool about it because they weren't like some of the owners I've had the misfortune to come across. But they still should have had the ability to recall their dogs.

YouJustDoYou Mon 29-Jul-19 21:55:10

In the USA it's really rare and much easier when everyone walks with a leash

^^THIS is what I always wanted for this country re dogs. I love the USA leash laws.

missbattenburg Mon 29-Jul-19 22:39:20

With respect a muzzle does not mean everyone can relax. A dog that is reactive and this scared when other dogs approach it is still going to be scared but with a muzzle on. A walk that involves that level of fear is not enjoyable. A walk where people keep their dogs under control means everyone can relax and enjoy their walks.

pigsDOfly Mon 29-Jul-19 22:42:41

This is so annoying. Stupid people with their 'friendly' dogs.

For friendly, read untrained.

I was also going to suggest a muzzle so that you can feel more relaxed.

Of course 'my dog's very contagious' shouted in a very loud, panicky voice will probably help. Just shouting 'call your dog off' never seems to work for me as the owner either ignores me or can't control their dog enough to get it to do as they say.

I had one dog follow us the whole way across the park once while the owner just continued yelling the dog's name as the dog ran after us completely ignoring the owner. I'd given up yelling at him to call his dog off at that point as he clearly couldn't, and was just trying to get as far away from him and his dog as possible.

Don't know if this is an option for you, but if you're at all rural you might be able to hire a private field for your dog to have a good run by himself from time to time.

pigsDOfly Mon 29-Jul-19 22:45:22

It's true, that a muzzle isn't really the answer but at least the OP wouldn't be worrying her dog was going to bite another dog.

Of course, all owners being in control of their dogs would be a better solution but unfortunately, that's never going to happen.

Yestermo Mon 29-Jul-19 22:52:32

If your dog bites it needs a muzzle. Of course dogs off lead need good recall but if your dog is aggressive you need to muzzle it. If it's reactive you need to take it to a behaviouralist.

RRJR Tue 30-Jul-19 00:46:38

Going against everyone here

If for whatever reason your dog isn’t friendly off the leaf, why do you walk it over fields and parks where you know there’ll be plenty dogs who can be walked off lead?

I hope this doesn’t come across as rude.

My dog never fails her re-call and only approaches another dog if I allow her to, but I wouldn’t trust her 100%. Unfortunately no dog can be trusted that much

If I had a dog who was reactive/unfriendly/wouldn’t come back when called I would walk her on the lead all over town rather than the small section of town where off lead dogs can actually enjoy being off lead?

Nothing infuriates me more than seeing owners walk their dog on the lead every single day round the same one or two fields when they have the whole town or city to walk them on the lead?

Leave the fields and parks to owners and dogs who are friendly.

seventy5days Tue 30-Jul-19 06:13:06

When working with a trainer for our reactive dog she suggested carrying a megatonne of dog treats and flinging generous handfuls away from us, towards the approaching dog.

On the occasions I've used it it's worked like a charm with the approaching dog being distracted and the previously oblivious owners sprinting over to enquire why I'm feeding their precious.

CherryPavlova Tue 30-Jul-19 06:38:03

We keep ours away from other dogs but when we’re at the beach others do let their dogs (often tiny happy things) bounce up and pester ours. They seem to think a small dog can’t be an aggressor and laugh at little things braking, sniffing and nipping ours.
Ours is generally quite patient to a point but I warn the other owners and suggest they might want to call their dog away or there’ll be a point at which ours responds. They ignore me and laugh at their tiny thing pestering our big dog.
Our dog then turns and chases theirs barking loudly and rolling over them because he can outrun most other dogs. Cheeky owners then suggest my dog is being aggressive. Makes me so cross.

nrpmum Tue 30-Jul-19 06:43:28

I have a fear reactive dog thanks to an attacking dog and we've recently been working with a trainer. Trainer has worked wonders with us and with our beautiful dog. The last walk we went on she ignored the dogs that ran up to her, and before she'd have gone beserk.

YouJustDoYou Tue 30-Jul-19 06:49:09

There's a very popular dog training advice page run by vets and behaviourists on Facebook. One woman posted rcently about how "rude" someone was to ask her to control her dog, which had gone running up to their dog. The behaviourist running the page absolutely tore her a new one, quite rightly, saying that it was her in the wrong as she should have trained her dog not to go running up to any dog it wants, that that is rude dog behaviour and she was very much wrong to blame the other owner for asking her to control her dog. Very much agree with everything said. Off lead dogs which are allowed to go bounding up to whatever dog they want are not under the full control of their owners.

Dontgiveamonkeys1350 Tue 30-Jul-19 07:13:08

This made my very reactive sprinter worse. I walked in quieter places. Yellow lead. Muzzle. The whole nine yards. Had a behaviourist. Worked my arse off everyday to help him. But these people just let their dogs run up. I then got blamed and told my dog was out of control when he went nuts. I truly believe that this is the reason my dog got so bad.

Alwaysgrey Tue 30-Jul-19 07:21:08

I feel for you. My dog is a puppy and adores other dogs and just ignores me and runs up to them. Well he would if he wasn’t on a long line. Your poor dog. If dogs are off lead they should be able to be called back not harass your dog.

Solonelywastheballard Tue 30-Jul-19 07:51:42

I might be missing the point but surely if a dog approaches yours, your dog growls and snaps then the other dog leaves?

I don't see the problem, just let your dog communicate to the other dog to sod off and it will won't it?

Wouldn't it only be an issue if two reactive dogs met?

Moondust001 Tue 30-Jul-19 08:07:38

A poorly socialised dog doesn't have to be reactive aggressive - dogs that "bound" up to other dogs and ignore their owners are also poorly socialised. A well rounded and mature dog does not bound up to another dog - there is an "approach ritual" that enables both dogs to assess each other and decide if meeting is what they want to do. That, combined with training, means that no dog should be bounding up. Puppies learn this behaviour from other dogs... I fondly recall my very annoying puppy (now 4 years old) bounding up to a rather unenthusiastic lady cocker spaniel, and getting chased around the park being nipped for his rudeness. It was a lesson he learned quickly!

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