Jack Russell Reactive With All Dogs
Yesterday I visited Rambo, a dear little Jack Russell and not at all suited to his name. He is now three and came from the RSPCA a year ago. Like many Jack Russells he’s very active, but a little too restless I feel. He’s obedient and affectionate and the the family loves him dearly, and the couple are doing their best to give him fair boundaries, sufficient stimulation and exercise.
He is looked after the couple’s parents during the day when they are at work, at their own house, so Rambo has two different environments, and there needs to be continuity in how he is treated. His persistent jumping up on everyone is a bit too much, but it would be very hard to stop unless everyone deals with it the same way whether family or visitors (and this isn’t by commands or scolding), otherwise it would simply confuse him and make matters worse so may be impractical in the circumstances.
Against a background of being already excitable and fairly easily scared by things at home, walks can be very stressful due to his fear of other dogs. Who knows what his past life consisted off, but his extreme reactivity to all other dogs seems to indicate that he didn’t have good experiences in the past. As soon as he sees any dog his hackles rise, he lunges and he barks. His defensive behaviour may attract the attention of off-lead dogs and if they approach him it is a nightmare. Poor Rambo, of course, is trapped on lead – it would be far too risky letting him off.
Rambo really isn’t a good name! It suggests tough and brave, but this poor little dog is plain scared. He first of all needs to learn to walk nicely (who ever sees a dog calmly walking on a loose lead, minding his own business, suddenly exploding when spotting another dog?). Avoidance of close encounters for now is key. Rambo needs lots of controlled exposure to other dogs at a sufficient distance not to worry him, whilst his owners behave in a way that convincing ‘leaders’ would. Opportunities can be engineered. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ as they say.
He most likely will never get to actually playing with other dogs, but being calm around them and ignoring them whilst relying on his humans to look after him would be a realistic, if long-term, goal. Things over time will slowly but surely improve if the humans stick to the plan.