Diamonds in the Ruff
My Dog Had a Traumatic Experience
Sadly, many of the calls we get from people whose dogs struggle around other dogs are the result of a traumatic experience.
"My dog was attacked by a dog ... " while on a walk or at the dog park.
The result is a formerly happy, trusting dog who now can't stop looking over their shoulder. Some dogs cower and can't move, others become reactive - "don't come any closer!" And some decide that the best defense is a good offense. "I'll get you before you can get me."
A traumatic incident can shatter their sense of safety. Was your dog physically injured or just scared badly? (I hate to say "just" because the emotional trauma can be so much worse than physical scars which heal.)
If you know where the dog lives, be sure to report it to animal control. If you are attacked at the dog park, get their personal info. If they leave without taking responsibility, jot down a description and if there are witnesses, get their info and maybe ask someone to see if they can their license plate number if possible. If your dog is injured, the other pet owner can be held liable for the cost of veterinary bills incurred.
Stress is cumulative.
You had a terrible night's sleep followed by a stressful day at work. Your boss calls you into their office as you were about to leave. You get caught in a traffic jam on the way home. You have a headache and you're hungry. You finally walk in the door and your smiling spouse asks, "What's for dinner?" You snap their head off.
It wasn't about them.
You take your dog with you to a park where your child is playing in a softball game. There is noise, activity, strangers, and smells. The dog isn't fond of car rides. The kids are amped up. You're running late. There's stress and frustration in coordinating all the gear and kids and dog. You find a spot to watch the game and get settled in. Whew! An off-leash puppy bounds toward you and your dog loses her mind, lunging, snapping and barking. Usually, your dog is fine with other dogs.
It wasn't about the dog.
The one thing you always have control of is how close you are to what stresses your dog. How close is "too close"? Your dog might lose her mind at 20 feet and be able to ignore the other dog at 50 feet. The other thing you can control is how you respond. Sound the way you want your dog to feel. In a happy, casual voice, "Yup, there's a dog, isn't he cute?" rather than scolding for barking which adds stress. Be pro-active, scan the surroundings before you choose where to sit. Pick a spot on the fringes and put yourself between her and things that might worry her. Bring along a shade screen to shield her view. Scatter treats in the lawn for her to sniff and search for. Bring an amazing chewy to give her something else to think about.
Here are some articles that might help:
If you feel like you need some one-on-one help, here is a page with our trainers who do behavior consults. BEHAVIOR CONSULTS & PRIVATE LESSONS | diamondsintheruff Travis has a wonderful kind and gentle dog that helps him work with excitable and reactive dogs. He'd be a great choice to help you and Rosie. Getting her back into a group class would also be good to broaden her world a little.
Visit this page for more info on our classroom to help you visualize you and your dog in our training studio with other dogs and families.
Evaluations & behavior consultations are available.
Please contact Travis Byrnes - 710-7697 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an evaluation. He will give you some handling tips and assess whether your dog is right for a group class or whether private one-on-one help or semi-private lessons for special-needs dogs would be a better choice to get you off on the right foot.
Depending on your particular needs, we will help you determine whether you should continue your training in private lessons or enroll in a specialized class to best address your concerns.
Our goal is to help you help your dog to feel more comfortable, so they can have a better quality of life and be a safer companion for you and your family.
"Teaching an Aggressive Dog How to Be Social Around Other Dogs"
- Whole Dog Journal
"Foundation Exercises for Your Leash Reactive Dog"
- Sophia Yin
Behavior Adjustment Training - Empowered Animals
- Grisha Stewart