How To Help Your Dog To Be Less Reactive
Have a reactive dog?
Do you want him to stop being reactive?
I figured... :)
So here is a little story of mine that happened...and it wasn't the first time.
I was walking two reactive dogs when a big black lose dog came charging straight at us out of a driveway.
The nightmare of every dog owner, but especially if you have a dog on leash that might not take this encounter well.
I mean, the fight is already playing out in your mind.
But here is what happened...
I yelled at him with a loud NO Facing him straight up looking at him making myself big (as big as a tiny person can)
He did not care...
Since my first attempt failes, I had a matter of seconds to think about how I’m going to get out of this With nobody get hurt or hit by a car
Because this was right by the road where the cars adw easily going 60 to 70 and theres no sidewalk
I first tried to walk faster hoping that if I passed the drive way the dog will stop...but he didn’t...
So I stopped again, held both dogs that I had with me behind me standing in front of them and yelling at the approaching dog again...
He still didn’t care...
He comes barrelling at us and just by he tine he as about 4 feet away I put out my leg
I didn’t kick him, I literally only pushed him away to create space to potentially have another two three seconds to think how I’m going to tackle him or get him away without anybody getting hurt.
Luckily my straight on approach was good enough for him to make a turn and go back into his driveway...but not after stopping and looking at us while I’m telling him in a stern voice to go home.
After I passed the area he still let out of bark....I guess he was defeated and just wanted to make his point.
But honestly I didn’t care about this dog the whole time.
I can handle him...
I cared about the dogs that were with me and how they are going to handle the situation because the way they are acting is going to Determine whether I can deal with the dog at large or not and keep everybody safe
You know what my dogs did?
Not a peep or move came out of them.!
Nada! ...2 reactive dogs. Nothing!
This whole ordeal probably lasted eight seconds and then we were off walking again.
So you might be wondering how the story is going to help you and your dog who is reactive to stop his behaviour.
See what made this whole situation go by fairly smoothly is the fact that I took charge.
The dogs with me know what I expect from them...which is to remain calm no matter what. I have taught them that this is none of their business. I am in charge of the situation and I will take care of it.
They trust me that I do, which is why they remained calm. They didn’t feel the need to head to interfere in anyway. None of the dogs with me we’re looking for a fight but at the same time, they were ready to tell the other dog to fuck off if he would have gone at them and I could not have controlled it.
Being able to get out of the situation as quickly and safely is a mix of trust and having dogs that respect what I expect from them and that I will not tolerate it for them To do anything else then stay calm
See... Getting dogs to a point like that is not always easy.
I do a lot of work with dogs teaching them to pay attention to me, to be desensitized to the feelings they have towards other dogs through positive reinforcement with teaching them alternative behaviours and reinforcing that with treats etc.
But when reality hits, and those real life situations happen, there is simply no time to try to tell your dog not to react to the other dog and reward them with a treat if they don’t.
In these real life situations I simply expect it from them.
Did the pre-work help? Of course!
But really it’s about the relationship that I have built with them with very clear expectations.
That’s the only way I can keep them safe and that’s the only way I can take charge.
If you want your dog to not reactive you have to teach them to respect what you expect and that it is non-optional because they have to trust, and learn to trust you that you will protect them and you will do your job as long as they do their job. So if you want your dog to be less reactive, you have to me more pro active in taking charge in the relationship you have with them. And how would you exactly do that you may ask?
That I would be happy to teach you if you want and reach out for help.
Just give me a shout!
About the author:
Simone Krebser - CPDT: Owner and head dog trainer of K9 Possible Dog Training serving the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia from Osoyoos to Penticton and Kelowna. Certified dog trainer, certified pet first aid instructor, member of the IACP, dog crazy and chocolate/cheese addict. “My life revolves around dog’s day in and out and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is my goal to help enhance the lives of all the adventurous and outdoorsy dog owners that crave no limits”