Dear Critter Corner: We have a very shy pup and have been working on exposing him from a distance to people and dogs at our local park that requires all dogs to be on leash. The other day, another dog owner had their dog off leash and it charged our pup. As I called to the owner to call their dog, I was told â€˜Itâ€™s okay, heâ€™s friendly!â€™ Their dog came charging up and toppled my pup who screamed in fear. I feel as though all the progress I have made with my pup has been lost. What do you suggest I do in the future to prevent this type of encounter?
I am sorry to hear that your pup had to go through this. This is one of the most frustrating experiences for owners of fearful or reactive dogs! Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent the scenario from happening again, but you can prepare your pup for the next time it may happen.
Teach your pup to enjoy having their collar grabbed or leash shortened quickly, so that if you need to do this in the future, it will not escalate the situation. You can grab the collar, take a step or two and follow with a treat. In addition, while out on walks, work on changing the length of your leash when nothing is around.
Instead of telling them that your pup is fearful or reactive, tell them your pup has a contagious condition that is transmitted in close contact and they should retrieve their pup. Most people respond to this quickly.
Teach your pup to stand behind you. You can encourage the other dog to go back to their owner or place a hand out to signal to the owner to stop. I find that saying â€˜Go Homeâ€™ or â€˜Getâ€™ works well. Watch your body language and try to remain clam to keep your dog calm, they play off of your emotions. At the end of the day try to remember that you will have set backs in your training and be thankful that your pup is physically okay.
If you would like some extra help with training your pup, you can schedule a 1:1 Consultation with one of our behaviorists or call our Behavior Helpline at ext. 183.
Tasha Suda is the Lead Dog Trainer for the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA Behavior Department. For more information, please visit www.phs-spca.org, call 650-340-7022 or email email@example.com.
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