Confessions of a secret owner of a reactive dog

It’s OK for your dog not to be OK

My name is Sam, and my dog isn’t comfortable meeting other dogs.

I thought I would write this blog as reassurance for other dog owners, and it’s something I don’t often talk about in my social media posts. Not everyone has a perfectly behaved dog, that can cope with any situation it finds itself in. But scroll through social media and you will find any number of people sharing photo’s of their dogs playing happily in groups, lounging around in busy areas without a care in the world. It can be difficult not to feel the pressure of having a dog like that too.

Our staffy, Beth, was thought to be good with dogs when we got her from a rescue, but it soon became apparent that she was a bit hit and miss with them. Through experience, we have learnt that she find eye contact from other dogs aggressive, but she does improve when she gets to know other dogs, and will happily walk side by side, with another dog. It’s the interaction she isn’t so good at. She is really good with distraction techniques as she’s very food oriented, but once she gets closer than the other side of the road, they want to say hello, and then distraction goes out of the window.

The biggest challenge with having a reactive dog, is trying to keep relaxed yourself when other dogs are approaching. Anxiety travels down the lead to your dog and they become worried as well, and defensive.

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So. Where am I going with this? To be honest, when I first wrote the above, I didn’t have the second half of the blog planned out! But then, I had a revelation. I am always told that to get anywhere, you have to step out of your comfort zone. So when my husband wanted to go for a walk in Derbyshire, I was determined to take Beth with us. To save us getting lost along footpaths, I picked Cromford Canal.

 

It turned out to be perfect for Beth. There were a few dogs as soon as we set off, but they were either really well behaved and ignored her, or were on the lead. She was in close proximity for short periods of time, which built both my and her confidence, as it is prolonged face to face encounters that stress her out. We couldn’t find Beth’s muzzle, so just planned to keep out of the way of any dogs we saw, and hope they read the lead sleeve and gave Beth space. We needn’t have worried as she never put a foot wrong. After about half an hour, we barely saw other people. And within 45 minutes, I was planning on searching other canal walks as soon as we got home!

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So now I’m on a mission to find great walks, that are suitable for reactive dogs. Not only was the canal path good as many of the dogs were on the lead, but we also arrived just after lunch on a weekday. By the time we got back to the car park, it was half empty and there was hardly anyone at the cafe.

 

 

Do you have any walks you’d recommend?

Comment below or on my social media. I’d love to hear.

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Sam

Hoof To Tail Healing
http://www.hooftotailhealing.co.uk

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