Recent increase in reacting to other dogs

Published by Theo Stewart on

(Online consultation)

Here is Mia’s story. Mia is a Golden Labrador, age 5. Over the past few weeks her behaviour towards some other dogs has changed from friendly to reacting aggressively.

Could it be pain?

When only a year old poor Mia had two hip replacements which meant weeks of crate rest. The lady will be looking into whether hidden pain of some kind could be responsible for Mia’s increased reacting to other dogs.

Professor Daniel Mills: Pain and how it is associated to behaviour in dogs.

Reacting to other dogs

Mia was very well socialised as a puppy and great with other dogs. Recently she has started reacting when she sees another dog even at quite a distance, by pulling on lead and barking. 

The lady fears she will be unable to hold her back or be pulled over.

Mia also barks at people with dogs that she sees passing the house.

We discussed various things to do at home that will form the best and most stable base for reversing Mia’s increasing reactivity on walks.  She will block the view out of the windows so Mia no longer rehearses the barking that she will believe sends people with their dogs on their way.

She will also use food to motivate and reinforce her, something she’s not done since Mia was younger.

Different tactics

On walks the lady will now use different tactics. Instead of telling Mia to sit as the dog approaches and physically trying to hold her back or correct her with a little jerk of the lead, she will keep moving.

But she won’t advance directly towards the dog. Reacting immediately Mia spots the dog, she will go off at a tangent or make an arc. As she does so, she will feed Mia. Alternatively, she may give Mia her ball to carry for a while, (for now Mia will only get her beloved ball when she sees another dog approaching).

Most importantly, instead of tensing up, the lady will try to relax as she moves away.

Recall

Fortunately Mia has very good recall – 99%. That 1% is always when it’s most needed!

They will do more recall training, now using rewards. Coming away from another dog deserves a jackpot.

We will be have another session soon, but this will set the foundations for a good start with the lovely Mia.

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

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