We have all seen them and some of you may have one or two - a dog that is very reactive to other dogs. I don't mean a dog who is super excited and wants to go and say hello. I am taking about the dogs that bark, lunge, twist and generally make themselves very difficult to hold on to when they see and sometimes hear another dog nearby.
Unfortunately, there are a great number of these dogs around. I know because I see them when I am walking dogs and I have certainly walked my share of them. These dogs are like an accident waiting to happen, and it is therefore very important that they are managed well for their safety and the safety of others.
First of all, I recommend getting a trainer. Someone who is experienced in training dog reactive dogs and uses positive methods only. Once you get a good trainer, work with them closely and don't just leave the job of training your pooch up to them. Follow their instructions carefully and follow through on any suggestions and recommendations they make as to how to manage your dog. Consistency is crucial here. And be patient. Your dog did not become that way overnight and it will take time to turn things around.
Secondly. Be sure to use a good harness and regular non-extension leash when walking your dog. If he is a potential biter, use a muzzle on him. For many of these dogs a Gentle Leader harness worn on the head is a good solution. PLEASE do not use chain collars, shock collars and chain link collars. They are aversive and can hurt your dog.
Next, try to walk your dog at times when he isn't going to run into a lot of other dogs. The less trauma he experiences when out walking with you, the more you can both enjoy the walk.
If you walk your dog after dark, be sure to have a flashlight so you can see other dogs approaching before it is too late to take diversionary action.
When you walk your dog, stay vigilant. Do not talk on your smartphone or be otherwise occupied. Pay attention to who is around you and if you see another dog approaching, change direction. If you are aware of dogs in your neighborhood that may be outside off leash or behind a fence, that could potentially turn your dog into Cujo, avoid those houses.
Managing your dog reactive dog can be difficult, but it can be done. Follow these simple suggestions so that you and your furry kids can enjoy your outings together and avoid potential catastrophes.