I recently had a series of lessons with dogs that were reactive to people when on leash. The first dog was a Daschund that was recently adopted from Daschund Rescue. This little guy didn’t like men. He would growl at yardmen, construction workers or neighbors out for a stroll or jog. It was difficult for his new owner to stop and talk.
The second dog was a very large breed dog that would react to anyone who wanted to come up and pet him when he was on a walk. Both dogs were walked on a flat buckle collar which because of the size and stature of the owner, made it very difficult to have a pleasant walk with the dogs especially when they became reactive during the walk.
I introduced both dogs to the Gentle Leader which can have a positive effect on many dogs – that of significantly reducing arousal and anxiety. The difference in control of both dogs made walks very pleasurable once again and along with that came a new found confidence in the owners. Once confidence was restored in the owners, the dogs’ attitude changed as well.
Both dogs were put on a “no free lunch” program, meaning they had to sit and down for everything: meals, access to the couch, doggie toys and their owner’s limited love and affection for a short while – also walks and potty breaks had to be earned as well.
To top things off we began to pair positive things with the gradual presence of particular types of people to which they were reactive. What positive things you ask? Why food treats of course. And with one dog, it was also a game of fetch.
Jim Burwell, Jim Burwell’s Petiquette