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 its 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."
An incident like that 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.
Remember, stress is cumulative. If you are carrying a cup of coffee 3/4 full at home you can walk the length of the house without thinking about spilling. If it's full to the top and you are trying to edge your way to your seat at the Best of Broadway and the show is about to start ... and your friend or spouse saying, "be careful, don't spill that ..." Somebody's going to have coffee in their lap and you'll probably snap at your friend and neither of you will enjoy the show.
For your dog, it wasn't just the dog. There was noise, activity, strangers, smells, the car ride to get there, the social situation, your stress and frustration, AND the strange dog and whatever danger she perceived that he posed. And then the worst happened. The scary thing actually came after them.
The one thing you always have control of is how close you are to what stresses her. She might lose her mind at 20 feet and be able to ignore the dog at 50 feet. In class we put up visual barriers to reduce stress. The other thing is how you respond. Happy 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