Reactive dog - any advice?

(9 Posts)
Allfurcoatandnoknickers Fri 17-Apr-20 13:02:49

Just checking if anyone had any similar experience with this? We adopted a two year old Romanian rescue around 6 weeks ago. He's very nervous but has settled well now in the home, and with our other 7 year old dog. We are starting some recall with him, and that's going really well. When he's in the park and other dogs are at a distance, or fairly close that he feels comfortable with, he will ignore them completely. We had an incident this morning, where a young cocker spaniel came up to him and my other dog (both on lead) and would not leave them alone. The owner tried to get them back without much success and eventually apologised but by then our new dog was yapping and lunging. This seems to be the pattern - if dogs keep away he's ok, if they come for a sniff/approach inappropriately or with bad manners- not so. I follow the 3 second rule of greetings, and try and move away quickly rewarding with a watch and treat. He's not that easy to read, and initially can seem friendly, and then when we move away he will be reactive.
We've got a behaviourist involved as I had a very reactive dog for 10 years and didn't want a repeat of this. It's difficult as we can't have one to ones with her because of Covid, but I'm keeping in touch with them by email.
Any positive words of hope - any Romanian rescue dog owners out there that have had similar experiences?

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vanillandhoney Fri 17-Apr-20 18:09:13

Hi OP!

My beagle used to be very reactive after he was pinned down and bitten by next doors dog. We've mostly worked through it with treats - so we figured out his "safe" distance and whenever he was that distance away from a dog, we would treat him and praise him. Slowly (over a period of weeks) we managed to get him to the point where other dogs could pass 2-3 metres away and he would sit calmly waiting for his treat.

It was really hard and he still does have setbacks - particularly recently as he can't socialise AT ALL and people are very wary of anyone being anywhere near them sad

Buzzer3555 Fri 17-Apr-20 18:12:47

It sounds to me that you are doing everything right
Just takes time. We also have a rescue dog who sounds similar to yours..the problem is we dont know what experiences they had before so its hard to know the trigger

OliviaBenson Fri 17-Apr-20 18:42:37

We practice CARE (google it) and we are finding the lockdown is helping as people are naturally keeping more distance.

I'd stop and greetings for now as you can't control what the other dog might do.

Hippydoodledoo8 Fri 17-Apr-20 20:32:13

Why are you assuming it’s a problem? If your dog isn’t happy to have another dog in its space, it’s reasonable to warn them off. I wouldn’t call that reactive.

Allfurcoatandnoknickers Sat 18-Apr-20 07:56:57

Yes I agree that if another dog has bad manners and they are just warning them off I’ve no problem with that and think that’s not reactive, just being a dog. The difficulty I have is at what point does this become a problem and turn into reactivity. Some owners are less tolerant than others and as I’ve found from owning a reactive dog for 10 years, you have to develop a tough skin!
I’ll take a look at CARE- And continue with what I’m doing.

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Veterinari Sat 18-Apr-20 08:41:54

@Allfurcoatandnoknickers

You're going WAY too fast

This dog has likely traumatic experiences of fighting for resources against other dogs in a shelter, been transported moved to a new hone, with another dog and a new family and is being walked with regular dog interactions. I'm amazed he's not bitten anyone yet!

He has no established relationship with you, no trust established and a likely history of conflict/competition with other dogs - please give him a break - he must be constantly stressed and anxious.

Please read about trigger stacking, and ensure you're familiar with reading canine stress signals. Focus on rapport building and reinforcing your relationship and building trust between you, and practice training calm on cue. You need to focus on lowering his general anxiety levels and building his confidence in you, this will spillover into other areas.

Exercise him early in the morning when other dogs aren't likely to be around, and get a yellow 'anxiety' lead to try and create space around him. Dogs on leads are often more reactive because when anxious the 'flight' choice of their fight or flight response is eliminated so if they feel uncomfortable they have to escalate their behaviour to create space, so try and minimise situations where being reactive is his only way of creating space. Try and avoid other dog interactions entirely for now - let him pass them at a distance that doesn't trigger his anxiety, keep the walls calm and positive.

As much as possible you need to minimise any triggers and promote overall calmness - you can train this using a mat or other trigger at home. Reducing overall anxiety will help to keep him below threshold.

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Allfurcoatandnoknickers Sat 18-Apr-20 10:55:34

I agree - he’s come a long way in six weeks but we do have realistic expectations. He’s not come to us direct from a shelter but from a foster home in the UK with lots of other dogs where he was for six months. I do walk him early and in the quietest place I can do at the moment with lockdown restrictions. I have engaged the help of a behaviourist but again due to lockdown that is proving a challenge getting hands on advice.

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Allfurcoatandnoknickers Sat 18-Apr-20 10:59:35

I was going to add that I think the yellow anxiety leads are an excellent idea but I’ve seen first hand how other dog owners where I live pay little if any attention to them. I live in an area where a lot of people have dogs as we are near two busy parks- many people work so dogs are walked by dog walkers in large groups and have pretty bad manners. Many people are now working from home, on their phones whilst walking their dogs and paying zero attention to their dogs who are desperate to ‘play’ with any dog that they’d normally play with .....

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