Barney was re-homed by my lady client just two months ago and is becoming increasingly reactive to other dogs when out. When they first had him he was playing with them. He also has started to bark at people.
Dog training classes
The lady has been taking him to traditional dog training classes – old school dog training classes. I can only wonder whether being physically controlled around dogs, isn’t actually making him worse. He’s being told to ‘Leave’ them rather than politely allowed to sniff and say hello which is a lot more natural. He’s being ‘corrected’ to stop him pulling on lead rather than being taught to walk like there is no lead at all – through choice.
For many years I did traditional, old-school dog training. I know all about it.
Barney is playful and extremely biddable. The lady herself is serene and gentle, and having met many of the Border Collies of his age, I am sure he would be a lot more excitable and hyped up had he gone somewhere else. My modern, gentle, non-coercive methods will suit her down to the ground.
Barney, like many Border Collies, will also lunge at traffic. It seems he had a very sheltered life previously with little enrichment. The lady has, very sensibly, got him a harness so he doesn’t hurt his neck, but he rears up and he is strong. I have recommended a better kind of harness, one where the lead is attached to the chest, along with a simple procedure to follow each and every time he looks like reacting to a vehicle. He needs to know that his lady is in control of the situation.
For now she should avoid walking beside a busy road. Then, over time but only within his comfort threshold, his exposure to traffic needs gradually be increased so that he is habituated.
It is a shame that old-fashioned training classes make walking the dog seem like a battle. He must be to heel or else he will be ‘corrected’. But, if the lead isn’t too short and is he doesn’t pull, why should he be stuck to the walker’s left leg? Does it matter if he is sometimes ahead so long as the lead is loose? Why shouldn’t he stop to sniff and explore? It is a dog walk, after all.
Reacting to traffic, people and other dogs can be treated with understanding of just how the dog is feeling and the emotion which is driving the behaviour is addressed. It may take a bit longer than using force, but it will be permanent and not a temporary fix that is dependent upon his being ‘dominated’ by a bullying handler (which fortunately this gentle lady just cannot be).
I have yet to discover modern, reward-based classes in my region, classes with small numbers that will use clicker, luring and reward to teach the dogs. (This was written back in 2013. There are several I can ow recommend).