Dog freaks out at other dogs

(11 Posts)
Soubriquet Wed 28-Aug-19 11:24:36

I’ve got two chis

One is a bigger one at 6.5kg, the smallest is 2.5kg.

They both bark at other dogs (though big girl isn’t bothered if little girl isn’t with us).

Today an off lead shih tzu came racing up to my two on lead dogs.

Little girl immediately freaked out and screamed as if she was being attacked. The shih tzu was trying to say hello in a very rude way, but my littlest was petrified.

She ran in circles around me until I managed to pick her up to which I then discovered she had released her anal glands over me envyenvy

What can I do to help her?

She has always had a problem with other dogs. Happy to gob off at them, but if they dare come near her, that’s if she thinks she’s in danger.

I try hard.

I’ll let big girl say hello to show little girl there is no problem.

I will fuss over the other dog and then stroke me mine to show there is nothing to be afraid of but no it’s not happening.

None of them have been attacked either

OP’s posts: |
missbattenburg Wed 28-Aug-19 11:40:19

You will not be able to 'show her there is nothing to fear' because by the other dog being so close, something bad has already happened to her.

Fear is deeply unpleasant and so the emotion is enough to be 'something bad' even if the other dog never does anything. No one will ever convince me not to be scared of sipders by throwing one in my face, even if all it does is run off without harming me.

There is lots of great advice on helping reactive dogs online and the Facebook site 'Dog Training Advice and Support' has lots of it. However, essentially you must stop making her get closer to other dogs that she feels comfortable with.

Only when she can feels safe and trust they are not going to come up to her can she begin to learn they are not a threat. Every time one comes up to her and scares her, it will reinforce the fear and her behaviour is likely to get worse and worse.

Start by maintaining a distance from other dogs at all times. Then progress to rewarding her for not paying them any attention. Then slowly (over months) you might be able to get closer and closer.

Do look up the FB site because they have many more of the finer details there.

Soubriquet Wed 28-Aug-19 11:45:17

I don’t encourage her to near other dogs.

I tell people to keep their dogs away as mine is frightened but no. She’s small, cute and comes with her foster mum so it looks like she is friendly.

She is. She loves people.

She’s just frightened of dogs.

OP’s posts: |
missbattenburg Wed 28-Aug-19 11:51:36

I get that and I'm not saying it's your fault or that she's not friendly or a bad dog. But if she freaked out at another dog then that other dog was too close for her. It doesn't matter if you and I think the other dogs was not too close. What matters is how she feels because in that state, cortisol and adrenaline are flooding her body and actively blocking the part of her brain responsible for learning. She physically cannot learn anything like that if you want her to learn, you must try and create a situation in which she is not afraid.

I totally get that off lead dogs etc are a pita and you cannot control what they do etc. It might mean walking where there are none for a while, or being more assertive about telling the other owner to call them away.

Unfortunately, when training dogs intentions and effort are wasted if they are not what the dog needs.

Frustrating, but there it is.

adaline Wed 28-Aug-19 12:33:07

If she's at the stage where she's reacting then she's already too close. You can't train her when she's so upset she's panicking - she just won't take it in.

I understand it's hard - mine is leash reactive but it can be done. If you see another dog approaching off lead, you need to be firm. Ask the other owner to recall their dog. If they don't, you need to be firm and turn around and remove your dogs from the situation - the more they're allowed to become stressed, the more ingrained the behaviour will become.

Soubriquet Wed 28-Aug-19 14:12:44


I didn’t mean to sound so defensive

OP’s posts: |
Hiredandsqueak Wed 28-Aug-19 14:27:53

Just to give you some hope that it can get better Bella was rehomed a year ago and I was assured that she couldn't tolerate other dogs at all and the rescue were happy that she couldn't see any other dogs from my garden.
A full year later Bella is 100% better off lead she is more than happy to meet and greet and even play chase with dogs big or small that we meet out and about. We met two new ones this morning and they had a good run round with her.
On her lead she is happy to meet and greet dogs she knows and ignore ones she doesn't know. It's just been a case of time and patience.
That said she still hates with a passion the Jack Russell over the road (feeling is mutual I think) even though he has never bothered her nor her him but will happily chase the Jack Russell next door hmm


Hiredandsqueak Wed 28-Aug-19 14:45:43

We had Eric who paved the way really and later I would walk Bella at the same time as someone who has a very steady black lab. Initially Bella walked a good distance behind him and eventually we'd walk a good distance apart but parallel and get closer. Now they walk and run together when we meet up. I think having successes gave Bella confidence then with other dogs. Do you know any steady dog and owners that might help?

adaline Wed 28-Aug-19 14:50:16

I do sympathise - it can be really stressful.

Try positive association - so find out what her safe zone is (eg the distance she can be from other dogs before she reacts) and every time another dog wanders into her line of sight, give her a high value treat (food or a high-value toy) - eventually you should be able to get her to look at you for a treat everytime a dog walks past.

Then you can move her closer and closer to other dogs until she doesn't react. Mine can now get within a metre or so without reacting which is a huge achievement for him. I get him in a sit between my legs, and treat treat treat.

Soubriquet Wed 28-Aug-19 15:27:18

If a dog is in eye sight that’s it..she reacts grin

OP’s posts: |
FoxesAreFabulous Thu 29-Aug-19 14:39:28

I would highly recommend joining the Reactive Dogs FB group - there are loads of files available to read, you can then post for specific advice and they have a number of very good trainers who reply to posts with tailored advice. Sounds like lead reactivity, which my mini poodle has too, and honestly, that group has saved my sanity!! It's very supportive and friendly and can also match you with other local members, who might be willing to do some parallel walking at a distance to help your dog.
Also, you might want to think about getting a 'No Dogs' lead for her - if you do a google search, you'll find them. I now have a Nervous lead for our boy as he is also scared of strangers and it has made a difference. Unfortunately, there are many owners around who think that because their dog is friendly, it's quite ok to let them run up to an on-lead dog and get in its face - you're doing the right thing in asking owners to keep their dogs away. Do have a look at the FB group and especially the CARE protocol - I think you'll find it really helpful. Best of luck!!

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