Causing Extra Stress

I have (possibly) had a break through moment, but dear friends I would very much value your thoughts, opinions and two cents on this matter.

Recently  I have been thinking a lot about BDs fear aggression. Following on from his attack he has been doing ok with dogs, although he did go for Mity the other day. They are both fine. BD was muzzled and Mity just squeezed past to him too closely trying to get around my mother and me. It was a bit of a hectic night and I should have found a way to not have them both in my house, but I had no option.

Anyway. Bd has taken to barking at most dogs we see when we walk past them. Turns out it is only with me that he does this. Apparently when he is with my ex he can now walk past all sorts of dogs on the other side of the road, but with me he does this excited bark/jump/yelp thing and almost tries to run at the dog but not in a ‘grrr I’m going to kill you’ manner more a ‘look, look, dog’ excited way. I know that I need to work on this, a large (potentially muzzled) dog barking at your dog does not a happy owner make (he has officially ruined any chances I may have had with the fit young vet, by barking like a loon at the vets JRT which resulted in a very disapproving glare from said vet to me the crazy lady who can’t control her dog!)

But I am not asking for your opinions on that (although any advice you have would be appreciated) No today I want to discuss my obsession with battling through BDs fear to one day see him play with other dogs. Every since I have known BD I have wanted to see him relax around other dogs. I want him to not be scared. I want a confident happy boy. I have once or twice seen him play with dogs. Watching him run around with them was amazing, and the big smile on his face when he was warn out and exhausted was just amazing. But (and here it comes)…

Is this need to see him relax in BDs best interest or just an obsession I have. Is this about BD or me?

When I go out walking with BD he doesn’t care if we meet another dog or not. So long as he has his tennis ball and we are together then he is happy. On the odd occasion we come across another dog (ignoring the lead bouncing for now) we take steps to avoid the interaction; I detour of the path or change direction, we usually pass the other dog without incident and carry on our way. I have learnt how to manage the situation and so has BD. When we are walking in a wood, or somewhere else where BD can be off lead once the other dog is a safe distance away and not likely to run back to try and say hi to BD I will re-remove his muzzle, congratulate him and we carry on.

So long as I have remembered his tennis ball BD is beyond happy. He doesn’t seem to worry that there is no one else around and as we walk out in the country as much as able, there aren’t really any dogs for him to play with anyway. He gets on fine with Mity, and so there is no longer the problem of having the two of them together. On walks they ignore each other and (until the attack) they ignored each other in the house as well. Yes, there were occasions when BD would be slightly concerned to hear Mity ‘talking’ to me and if ever Mity wanted to do crazy dog I would hang on to BD so that he wouldn’t chase Mity as on the occasion I wasn’t fast enough they would both just kinda panic and freeze. Mity would look at BD as if to say “why are you chasing me” and BD would look at him as if to say “why were you running and why have we stopped?”.

If BD is contented, and Mity is happy. Why do I want to push it further?

Am I right to encourage BD to relax around other dogs, regardless of his nerves? Or do I accept him for who he is and let this go?


P.S It’s this post Pamela that you inspired!

10 thoughts on “Causing Extra Stress

  1. I read Pamela’s post, so I know just what inspired you and in the vein, I would say follow BD’s lead. He’s happy – not all dogs need dog companionship. We have two dogs – but they mostly just ignore each other and that’s just fine with me.

  2. Not sure how to answer that as not being a dog trainer just an owner I don’t think I’d be qualified to give advice. We socialised asap and living in an urban area we have to all get along. Things do happen from time to time but mostly we are all aware that getting along is key. Hope someone has some good advice. Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. I wish I could offer some advice but I would think a mix between acceptance and pushing a little bit on a gradual level. It’s hard to find that balance I know!

  4. Wonderful post. And I definitely relate.

    I asked myself the same questions about Shadow, my last dog. I did take her to a supervised dog play group held by the shelter I adopted her from. I wanted to see if it was the leash that caused her to react to other dogs and if being safely off leash would make her more comfortable.

    The group, run by serious volunteers with training chops, did help her. I eventually got to see her play with one other dog. And I worked with her on leash as well. But she never became a social butterfly.

    Some dogs, like some people, don’t care for making lots of new friends. So if I were living with BD, I’d probably do some training to help him react less to other dogs when he’s walking with me (either BAT which rewards a dog by letting him walk away from dogs that make him uncomfortable before he reacts or by teaching “watch me” when he pays attention to you instead of the other dog).

    After all, he’s reacting because he’s uncomfortable. And you don’t want that for him. But he loves being with you. And apparently that’s all he needs.

  5. I agree with Pamela (she is oh so wise.) Sampson just wants to get to the other dog or person and he gets all jumpy and crazy on lead. I have good treats in my bag and I use “Look” or “Here”. If neither one of those works I will take the treat and stick it in front of his nose, luring him away from the distraction. “Good boy!” More treats as we continue to walk away. If I’m good, it’s usually over in a few seconds. Since BD only seems to do it with you, I suspect (not a trainer or behaviorist here) he’s protecting you. If you are calm and relaxed and coaxing with the treat, maybe the muzzle won’t be necessary. My thought (again, see disclaimer above) 😉 the muzzle may make matters worse as if BD NEEDED to defend himself the muzzle would prevent that. Like Delilah on leash. If another dog approaches off leash, I have to drop mine because the leash frustrates her and makes her feel trapped. Too much? 😀

    • I hear what you are saying and I have read and agree that having them muzzled and on a lead can help them feel more stressed (it’s one of the reasons I keep him off lead when we approach other dogs and it is safe to do so) but BD does not have a bite inhibition and a slightly short fuse. He will give off a warning and if it is not picked up on in that second he will react – regardless of whether or not the dog is a threat. Example Mity fell on him at my house the other day and BD reacted. He knows Mity is not a threat and pre-attack from dog the other week BD has laid there while Mity accidental stood on his face whilst trying to climb over him (a massive break through).
      Although I know that BD can’t defend himself muzzled he also can’t do any harm, can’t draw any blood. I am not prepared to either run the risk for the other dog or for BD – what happens if he does bite, draw blood and is reported? I may loose him. I will not take that risk so he is muzzled and has to learn to trust me. I will get in there first. I will keep him safe!!

    • And just to add another level. If we are walking on paths and he is on a lead I do not have him muzzled, or if we are on a field alone with dogs in the distance he isn’t muzzled. I only put on his muzzle if there are loose uncontrolled dogs. If the dog is walking down the other side of the road on a lead, BD would not be muzzled – does that make sense?

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