Having lived in a compound with lots of other dogs, 11-month-old Chase is understandably overwhelmed with excitement when he see other dogs. He has never learnt restraint and goes crazy if he can’t get to them.
Having only lived in a compound with other dogs, Chase is overwhelmed and very scared by traffic.
Chase has been with the family for one month – and in the rescue for the previous six months. He has fitted into family life phenomenally well in the house. He loves the children (8 and 11). He toilets outside and he is affectionate and biddable.
The problems arise when out on walks.
Overwhelmed with excitement when he sees another dog, he does everything he can to get to it. He has never learnt any different. For quite a small dog he is very strong.
The man is trying to stop Chase pulling and lunging by winding the lead around both hands and holding tight. He will now teach the dog the skills he needs instead.
Chase will learn what to do upon seeing another dog. That will be to give the man his attention and to go another way or arc around it.
The man will need to react quickly the very moment Chase sees the dog. He then must make going another way rewarding for him with food or fun.
More tricky is the fearful reactivity to traffic. The brave, overwhelmed dog, restrained by a strong man holding him back, would chase and ‘kill’ traffic if he could. Attack is the best form of defence.
Starting at the beginning
The only way to resolve both his reaction to other dogs and to traffic is to change how he feels. This can only be done slowly and, like everything, starting at the beginning.
Where both other dogs and traffic are concerned, they are beginning at step ten! It must be back to step one.
With dogs, ideally they need just distant single dogs and not parks of dogs or dogs beside a busy road that they can’t avoid.
With traffic they should find somewhere they can observe from a distance and then build up Chase’s confidence. This can only be done by desensitising and counter-conditioning (we discussed exactly how).
Overwhelmed in some way by both dogs and traffic
With dogs (which he loves) and traffic (which he hates) there is a threshold distance. That is where he’s aware of them and not reacting. That is where step one on the progress ladder begins.
Traffic also involves his chase/prey drive. Overwhelmed and fired up, if too close Chase then needs to be able to redirect this to something else. It could be rolling a ball away from the traffic or a soft toy – something moving in another direction or some kind of action. It could be a game of tug.
None of this works if he’s over his comfort threshold distance-wise.
They may be able to play a ‘traffic game’ from the hallway of their house. Front door open, Chase would be on lead and well back from the road. Each passing vehicle could trigger a piece of sausage!
The road to success
There is a lot more to it, but this is the general plan for the family with Chase:
- Correct walking equipment
- Learning loose lead technique somewhere calm like their garden
- Working with distant dogs – starting again from scratch
- Working on fear of traffic and the drive to chase it.
The family’s success will depend upon their patience and stamina. Both kids want to be able to hold the lead when out for walks, impossible now of course.
They have already taught Chase quite a lot, so they will get there.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help