Roots is a delightful and friendly three year old Collie/Husky cross – with stunning pale eyes outlined in black.feels unsafe around other dogs She had to be removed from her mother at six weeks old and they have worked very hard with her. She was the star of her puppy obedience classes.

Increasingly reactive to other dogs

However, as time has gone by and despite their efforts, she has developed more and more reactivity to other dogs, This is any dog in fact that shows any reaction to her whatsoever, friendly or otherwise, particularly if she is on lead.

She’s okay with dogs that totally ignore her and with some dogs when she is off lead. Otherwise her hackles rise, she lunges and if she could she would attack. The lady has been bitten on the leg for being in the way. Roots feels unsafe.

Changing how Roots feels about walks

The whole walk scenario needs to be changed. In order to give better control she now wears a ‘Gentle Leader’. As soon as she sees it come out, she backs away.

The lead that is attached is a retractable lead which by its very nature is always tight. So, Roots walks down the road, held tight beside them on this contraption and one can imagine how it must be for her when they see another dog.

No wonder, trapped, she feels unsafe. The lead will tighten. It will be uncomfortable on her face – especially if she lunges and is dragged past.

This is a clear case of the presence of another dog being associated with all the wrong things. Owner tension, discomfort, and from the young man an angry reaction when she acts in what is to her, self-defence – going for the other dog before it gets her. She simply feels unsafe.


Because Roots is okay with some dogs, this situation isn’t as bad as it may seem. Some days she will already be more wound up than others and therefore more reactive.

From the moment she leaves the house she’s on ‘cat-watch’ – cats really hype her up. This needs to be tackled. She needs to be stirred up less at home so she is in a calmer state of mind in general; she needs to be comfortable in the equipment used and her walker needs to be relaxed and in control. Roots needs to associate other dogs with nice stuff and not with discomfort, panic or anger.

I sometimes wonder why that head halter is called a ‘Gentle Leader’. As people mainly use them to physically pevent dogs from pulling there isn’t much ‘Gentle’ about it – and ‘Leader’? Jerking the lead on a head collar is hardly leading, is it.