So as usual I am getting on the band wagon way too late. I did know about the link but buying a house kinda got in the way – yes I will be using that excuse for the foreseeable future!
Anyway, as I have mentioned multiple times BD has fear aggression. If another dog gets into his face and does not pick up on his “I’m not happy, leave me alone” signs he will react. He also appears to have zero bite inhibition (something I am working on!) and so I keep him muzzled when around other dogs, including Mity. Annoyingly it isn’t just other dogs he goes for an he has once gone for a postman, although the postman took full responsibility for the incident, and he has also gone for myself and him. Again in both these incidents actually the ones to blame was myself and him, we know BD doesn’t like people is his ‘space’ and yet I went to kiss his head, while he was asleep – I know I still can’t forgive myself for being so stupid.
I must have read every article I can think of to try and find a way to help BD overcome his reactivity and when I lived with him, I came home on an almost daily basis with a new bit of information I had read and a new way to look at it.
I learnt not to punish BD for reacting. I understood the importance of routine. If we see something that could cause a reaction we did, x, y and z in order and his confidence grew. In fact the weekend before I moved out, I took BD to play with 4 other collies. Seeing my big idiot, race around the field chasing 4 collies smiling his head of made me sob with tears of joy. Watching him ignore an adolescent dog annoying him, snapping near his face and running just in front of the end of his nose (I did try to stop this dog from carrying on with this behaviour) before finally deciding he had had enough and giving a warning but not following through with an ‘I’m going to kill you’ made my heart burst with pride.
But then I moved out. And this changed everything. Now I spend half my week walking a reactive dog and the other half with Mity who loves every dog and everybody he sees. It has thrown me off my game. I’m losing touch with BD’s body language. I don’t trust myself to read a strange dog’s body language and I feel like I have taken a massive step back and it is affecting him. I worry our bond is not as strong as it once was, and I feel like after everything else I am losing him too.
When he separated from his pre-me ex, BD started with his reactivity. When we separated I didn’t want BD to take a step back and so asked to continue to have access. Hell, I didn’t want to give up the dog I love, the dog who in some ways feels like my first dog. I was losing my house, my home and him I didn’t want to lose BD as well. Bd and Mity have helped me face every day, given me something to get out of bed for. But am I just being selfish? By struggling to rebuild our relationship and closeness am I doing an already confused and scared dog more harm???
But when he curls up on my knee or greats me with the stupid grin on his face. Can I walk away? Should I walk away?