Does your dog turn into Cujo as soon as he sees (1) another dog; (2) a white man or a black man; (3) a woman walking with a stroller; someone riding a bike; or a jogger? Unfortunately, this is not a unique issue. We’ve discussed the importance of early socialization recently to prevent such behaviors, but what should a pet parent do when their dog is behaving this way? Should we yell at the dog? Should we do a leash correction or use a shock collar so the dog knows he’s being bad? Or, should we just tell the dog to “SIT!” until the stimulus that’s causing the reactivity goes away? NOOOooooo!
Keep in mind that reactivity is based in FEAR. When a dog is scared, he can make one of two choices: FIGHT or FLIGHT. That decision is based on the dog’s temperament. Without getting boringly technical, let’s just say the dog is having an adrenaline rush. If the dog looks like the one in the photo above, he probably can’t even hear you when you’re speaking to her. There are very good behavior modification protocols available to us to help make the dog feel better when faced with scary stimuli. But I want all of you to know that your default behavior should be to CREATE DISTANCE!
Purchase a well-fitted Freedom harness or a Gentle Leader head halter. Each of these can help you gain good control of your dog so you can make an “Emergency U-Turn” in order to get the heck outta Dodge. Check these items out at Amazon. Never ask your dog to sit when faced with fear. Help your dog and let him know you are the one who can protect him! Your dog needs to have that confidence in your ability to keep her safe and out of harm’s way.