When the overly social (or stalker) dog becomes hard to handle. For we hear a lot of advice for reactive or aggressive dogs, and even for fearful dogs. But what about dogs that are a little too “pushy” with their peers?
HOW DOES A DOG BECOME A STALKER?
When a dog is small, it is (normally) naturally social with its peers and has also learned social codes from its mother and siblings.
However, the puppy will have to continue to learn the dog language in order to express himself well when he is an adult. It’s a bit like a child who learns politeness and manners during his life before becoming mature and autonomous in his language with others.
THE STALKER DOG
The trap is to think that a puppy only needs to see other puppies in order to play, because they are the same size, and they normally get along very well.
The idea is actually very good because a puppy will not play in the same way with another puppy, as with an adult who may be calmer.
However, he should not only see young “crazy” dogs who do not know how to stop (which is quite natural at that age).
Simply because your puppy will learn that being insistent with others is something “normal”. And yes, a rude little puppy is often tolerated by adult dogs, but an adult who arrives like a bomb and plays without respecting the individual in front of him is not appreciated in principle.
It is therefore very important that your puppy sees other puppies to play and spend time with young people of his age, BUT he must also see balanced adults so that he socializes properly and continues to learn civility and codes of politeness between dogs and does not become a harasser towards his fellow dogs.
MY DOG WAS A BULLY AND HOW I DEALT WITH IT
When I decided to get a Pug a few years ago, I knew that it was a sociable and rather easy-going breed. For a first dog, it was ideal in my eyes.
But Lascar was the TOO social dog. He loved everyone: humans, dogs, other animals, even dogs that were aggressive and would have surely attacked him if I had let him go to them. Everything was an excuse to become his friend.
THE STALKER DOG
During the first months of his life, while taking care of his safety, and not having my current knowledge at the time, I let my puppy go see everyone, delighted to have an easy dog who loved absolutely everything in his environment.
Then the recall was weakened with time because he left with the least stranger that we crossed in stroll. Imagine me running after my little pug who was galloping after a group of walkers. I was a little ashamed honestly.
So I decided to put him in a tether for a while in order to have some control over him so that he wouldn’t run away at the slightest opportunity. Restrained by this piece of plastic from one day to the next, he started to squeal and roll on the ground if I tried to pull him away every time I passed someone or a dog.
He was obsessed with going to them. What about me? I didn’t exist at all.
And one day, after a lot of reading and training, I decided to start all over again.
Together we went back to the basics of dog training: the connection and the relationship.
So I rewarded the slightest look, reinforced the recall, congratulated the natural returns, learned the cessation of pressure on the leash, etc.
And today, I have a free-roaming pug who is much better at managing his immense desire to leave with the slightest stranger.
When I go for a walk, when I meet someone, he will go to sniff him, but he quickly catches up with me while running. And it is a huge victory for us.
All this to say that the reactive dogs are difficult to manage, but the too sociable ones just as much!
And each individual helps us to question ourselves and to progress, and this is the most beautiful gift.
WHAT NOT TO DO WITH A STALKER DOG
A stalker dog is not a pleasure dog, so don’t think he’s annoying his friends on purpose.
So don’t get upset and make the right decisions.
One piece of advice we hear a lot today is to put the nagging (or reactive) dog in the middle of one or more well-coded dogs that will “reframe” him.
These so-called regulating dogs are often seen as “canine gods” capable of educating and reframing any other dog that needs it.
THE STALKER DOG
I totally agree that dogs should be allowed to express themselves without controlling everything all the time because they need to communicate with each other.
BUT, I don’t agree with letting the dogs do their own thing without our intervention when one of the dogs is having a bad time.
The risk, by leaving a well coded dog to manage alone permanently in front of dogs that do not always understand the canine codes of politeness, is that this famous “regulator” starts to climb the ladder in terms of communication by fatigue, and intolerance arrives gradually.
The goal is not that the “well coded” dog will react in an extreme way, nor that the dog in training will be frightened by a too violent reframing.
Human intervention is therefore necessary when the encounter becomes uncomfortable for one of the two individuals.
This does not mean that we should not let them communicate, it simply means that we seek to preserve each other so that the rest of the interaction goes well.
The “stalker” dog will not learn anything constructive because he will only learn that dog-to-dog encounters can be unpleasant. He needs to see a variety of balanced dogs in order to relearn how to be polite, but he must not be overly violent because he may become either reactive or totally inhibited by fear and not express himself at all.
The last piece of advice is to take your dog back on the leash for a few minutes when he starts to be too insistent during a dog walk. This should not be seen as a punishment, give your dog a treat when you put the leash back on and have him walk with you for a few minutes. This will allow him to calm down physically and mentally and you can release him after he has calmed down to go back to playing with his friends. If he starts to behave insistently again as soon as he is free, calmly take him back on the leash and wait again. It’s a job that requires patience, but you’ll see results quickly. Don’t hesitate to get help from a professional dog behaviorist to avoid making mistakes.
Don’t feel guilty and don’t blame yourself.
There are no good and bad dogs.
All dogs need to learn. And it’s up to us to help them when they need it.