I may be a professional in the canine world, but I remain above all a human being with his emotions as an individual.
Saiyen, my Belgian shepherd Groenendael, is only one year old and is very reactive towards her fellow dogs.
Marked by her past in factory breeding / and her small passage in the SPA, decorated with some too frontal canine meetings not controlled when she was a puppy, she developed reactivity to the least sight of a dog. She barks, charges and has difficulty in calming down depending on the individual in front of her, even if she does not attack.
And honestly, it’s not always easy.
LIVING WITH A REACTIVE DOG
It is sometimes difficult because I have to anticipate everything as much as possible and also because I face the distress of my dog by being sometimes helpless, because I can’t always control everything when I am on a walk.
It is hard because it requires upstream a work of isolation the time that the dog calms down in a general way over a few days to better work the meetings thereafter.
It will take time, there will be ups and downs, and even if the progress is long, even if sometimes you have the feeling of going backwards, it will be for better progress the next time.
So, to all the reactive dog owners who sometimes feel helpless in front of the situation because crossing a dog, a human, or even a simple bicycle seems impossible, believe in your dog and believe in yourself. Get help from a professional dog trainer if needed.
But have faith in your duo. Because one day, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t isolate yourself and talk about it so you don’t keep it all inside. Because you are not alone in this.
TO ALL THOSE REACTIVE DOGS
SEE THE QUALITIES OF HIS DOG
When we have difficult experiences with our dog, whether it is reactivity, a wobbly recall or an arm ripped off at every leash walk, it is difficult for us to step back and see the qualities that our dogs can have.
Because even though their behaviors can be hard to live with, we have to know that they do their best. And above all, they also have many qualities that we tend to forget.
Let’s take examples from my home again:
Saiyen is reactive dog and is in a rather delicate phase right now. I therefore select precisely the dogs she will see so that she evolves in the right direction.
Lascar doesn’t always listen to me when there are a lot of dogs near us.
All these points are painful BUT :
My two shepherds have near perfect recall.
None of my dogs run away and they know how to be calm wherever I bring them.
They are clean and bark very little (unless someone sticks to my gate of course).
They are all 3 very nice with humans, they are cuddly and they like to learn. They don’t say anything to farm animals when we see them on a walk and are not attracted to game.
So even when the end of the day is tough because you’ve been through a tough situation, remember the qualities and good things about your dogs. I personally keep a kind of logbook for Saiyen. This allows me to see his evolution every day and not to stay stuck only on the complicated moments.
TO ALL THESE REACTIVE DOGS
DOGS DON’T HAVE TO LOVE EVERYONE
A sociable dog is a dog that has learned the canine codes and knows how to communicate with other dogs.
But does he have to be tolerant of everyone?
We have the right to have certain affinities with individuals as human beings.
The dog has the right to not get along with all the other dogs he meets without necessarily being labelled as an unsociable dog.
Some people prefer calm individuals, others prefer lively temperaments.
It will depend on your dog’s sensitivity and history and it is up to you to respect his desires (as much as possible).
TO ALL THOSE REACTIVE DOGS
A sociable dog does not mean a dog that has to put up with everything without saying anything.
Allowing them to have choices in encounters will have many positive consequences on their confidence in themselves, in their environment and on their ability to make decisions.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you that a reactive dog is not a bad dog. Reactivity is only a behavioral response on the part of the dog following a bad experience.
So let’s not blame aggressive dogs because they are the ones who suffer the most.