Today is the first WOOF Blog Hop, and I am really excited to be a part of this! WOOF (Working Out Our Fears) Support is a essentially an online support group where owners with reactive dogs can get together and share ideas, experiences, training tips, etc. You can read more about it here (there are also links there to the Facebook group and information about the blog hop). If you have a reactive dog in any way, I urge you to check out that link and become a part of the group. We can all read as many training books as we want and even hire and talk to our own trainers for our pups, but sharing experiences and tips with another owner of a reactive dog is invaluable – the more the merrier!
I explained about Buster’s reactivity here.
To make a long story short, this past fall Buster and my in-law’s Yellow Lab, Boomer, were outside running around and playing together (which they had done perfectly fine before). Something (I have no clue what) happened, and then they were fighting. Boomer had grabbed Buster by his jowls to the point of making him bleed. Ever since that incident, Buster has not been the same around larger dogs.
Buster is constantly going places with me. He goes to my work, goes for random rides in the car, goes to PetsMart and Petco, goes to the park a minimum of a few times a week in good weather, etc. He has been going places with me and meeting new people and new dogs since he was about 8 weeks old. He has been socialized, and he does GREAT with new people. (I think as a whole, he prefers meeting new people rather than new dogs). Even though he isn’t around young, small kids often, when he is, he does FABULOUS. It almost shocks me at how well he does since he’s never around kids. He becomes very calm and goes slow and mostly just lays down for belly rubs; it’s like he knows that he needs to be careful with little kids. He is not leash reactive. I think he actually listens and acts better on a leash, if anything. He is not dog aggressive. He LOVES playing with dogs that are the same size as him. Just like with kids, he becomes very calm and slow with dogs much smaller than him. He does react poorly to any Yellow Labs we see on walks now, so we do have to stay clear of those. He is fairly good at walking by and ignoring other larger dogs.
As I have said before, Buster is the type of dog that is very sensitive and easily. Slow and steady is what works for him. When he goes to work and actually gets examined, he has a timed threshold and will only tolerate so much for so long, and you have to transition the physical exam very slowly. He also has to be restrained a certain way. If you try to restrain him by holding his chest in any way, he becomes reactive. I don’t think this is all that odd. We certainly have patients who have time limits and need to be restrained specific ways. I know this and my coworkers know this about him, so that doesn’t bother me (although I am sure his calming training cues we are working on will still help in this situation).
I have just discovered his reactivity. Buster’s first incident with my in-laws dog was this past fall. He hasn’t met a new larger dog until just recently. That 2nd incident is what solidified my opinion that the incident with my in-laws dog traumatized him and caused him to become reactive, so we need to work on training. The dog he met at his 2nd incident was an almost 1 year old Rottweiler. The Rottweiler caught Buster off guard and ran up to his face, and Buster reacted. The Rottweiler left the area but came back later. This time more much slowly and calmly. Buster and the Rottweiler actually did great together! They played (as best as they could with such a huge size difference), and everything seemed fine. Then the Rottweiler did a very fast circling turn, and Buster reacted. So, we left the area.
Buster has had some odd things happen at home lately towards Kudo, too. We can’t clean Buster’s wrinkles or trim his nails or clean his ears with Kudo around. Otherwise, once he’s done, he reacts towards Kudo. (At least this has an easy solution).
Sometimes though, Buster will react out of nowhere towards Kudo. I can’t find any constant triggers, because the situation and environment is always different. I think stacked triggers throughout the day is a good possibility causing the problem too. Knowing Buster as well as I do, I can see when he is about to react most of the time. I can see that he starts looking around really fast and becoming hyper-aware of his surroundings, and it’s as if one sudden movement or one small change in the environment will make him react. This is why we are training to “Watch Me” and to “Settle” and to exhibit other calming and canine friendly body language.
This training journey for Buster and I has just begun. I have just discovered his reactivity, but I am doing everything I can to correct it.
It does make me a little bit scared to take Buster out though. But he is a dog and enjoys being out, so I’m not going to deny him of that. The main reason I put the yellow ribbon on his leash was in the hopes that others would see it and give Buster space. His two major reactive incidents didn’t happen until 30 minutes or so into being with the other dog, and he does a good job of ignoring other dogs on walks, but I still want to be cautious until we have more training under our belt.
It also annoys me that many other people (at least in my area) don’t seem to be the most responsible dog owners. I’ve seen several people let their dogs just trot along at the park off-leash. Even when on leash, owners tend to unlock their retractable lead and let their dog run towards other dogs, yelling out “HE’S FRIENDLY!”
Then I get annoyed at the people who think they are responsible dog owners, but yell at anyone they see with a dog reacting to something – “LEARN TO CONTROL YOUR DOG,” is a common phrase they scream.
Then there are people, people with their dogs, etc., who come up to Buster and just want to pet him because he’s so cute and wrinkly but don’t listen when I tell them to move slowly. “He’s so small and you can’t even see his teeth. He can’t do much damage!” is something I have actually heard before. This probably annoys me the most.
I have caught Buster’s reactivity very early on, and he is one super smart and quick learning pup. Having a reactive dog and working on training seems daunting and overwhelming and like a long, scary road, but I will do whatever it takes to make my dog a happy, healthy, and safe dog.
This is a Blog Hop!
Powered by Linky Tools
Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…