Help my dog is beginning to react to other dogs!
Don’t panic but do try and work out why. This is because, the trainer that you contact will ask you if you have an idea as to why. Here are some reasons why a dog can “suddenly “ become reactive.
1: They have hit adolescence and it is all getting a bit too much – those hormones flushing through the young dog’s body can cause all sorts of hiccups!
2: They had an encounter with another dog which has caused worry – either with or without your own feelings being considered. Often it isn’t what happens when another dog rushes over, it more than likely how we react as and after it happens that is going to affect our dog’s behaviour. How many of us freeze when we see a similar dog to the one that caused the incident, coming towards us?
3: Maybe there is too much socialisation going on? Do they go to Doggy day-care and it is too much for them – have you considered what they learn when out on their own?
4: There has been a change in the household? – people leaving, new home, loss of another family pet – our dog’s do not understand what has happened but do know that there is change and it takes time to adjust.
5: There has been human loss, grief attacks us in many ways but it will also affect our pets too. Our dog will not only be aware that there is loss, they also do not understand why you are different too?
6: There is a new dog in the local area and they can smell them – but don’t know anything about them therefore putting your dog on edge.
7: Local bitches are in season and being walked in the vicinity. Even neutered males will have some reaction.
8: Its that time of year – Autumn is the time when all young males feel they must prove themselves. Think of the Stags rutting, the foxes barking etc etc.
9: Maybe it has just built up over several weeks and months and now that glass is overflowing. There have been lots of signs that it is going to happen – but maybe you missed them?
10: Just maybe as your dog reached a certain age, all the challenges he/she had and coped with as a pup, have now proved too much. If you have a puppy that didn’t get enough exposure as a youngster or the wrong treatment ( like our Barney did) then as they get older, the reaction to things is less controlled.
Ah yes, you say but my dog should be able to cope with all these- and they should, but they do need help and it is our responsibility to do so. How? Well training doesn’t have to be boring, there are lots of things you do with your dog to help them. Sometimes, we get so fixated on the problem, that we forget that our dogs need time to decompress, relax and play. Difficult if your dog is reacting to every other dog but maybe now is the time to book that secure field and let them have some time off lead in a safe and secure place. You need to be doing fun things with them as well as giving them boundaries.
When you go for a walk, consider what you can do to make it more fun for them. I like to think of it being a bit like training for an event. Yes, we do go and practice regularly the thing you want to succeed in – swimming in my case, but we also need to build our fitness, stamina, and core strength. So, although I swam breaststroke, I trained on all swim styles. I did gym work and plenty of exercise to get myself fit. Do you see what I mean? Although you need to be able to walk past another dog, person or whatever the trigger, and practice so that you do this successfully, you also need to be able to play ball with your dog. You should be able to walk your dog on a loose lead and recall them when necessary. Play fetch with them and get them to drop the ball. Get them to focus on you and do a figure of eight around your legs. Find that scent that you have hidden in the cardboard box or along your fence. Even some fun obedience will help you – can you drop your dog as he/she is running towards you? Need help, then get in touch. Relax, your dog isn’t here to cause you problems, but is having a hard time and it is up to us to help them.