Long-time readers will know I have a dog with fear aggression. Having a dog with these issues was relatively new to me, and was something I was determined to work on when I moved in with the ex and BD. The day he was racing around with other collie dogs, playing and ignoring a puppy who was clearly trying to get some sort of reaction, was the happiest day of my life. It was also the day before I moved out of the house I shared with the ex.
Now I live in my own house and (unless the ex is away) I have BD one night a week and when I have him I like to go for a ‘proper’ walk; in the hills, miles from anyone. It is perfect. The problem is on these walks it is only him and me.
We don’t encounter other people. We don’t encounter other dogs.
This means I have lost my doggie reading skills and along with BD being attacked last year, this has made me very nervous when I see other dogs out and about.
Mity loves other dogs. He would leave our side and bound across fields to go and say hello to the dog he saw in the distance; and no amount of calling, running in the other directions or promise of treats would do anything to distract him from saying hello. This is something he has never grown out of and now it is only the fact that his eyesight is poor meaning he can’t see the other dog that stops him.
So if I see a dog with BD I panic that the approaching dog with be a ‘Mity dog’. I know panicking is not the thing to do. I try not to. I try my best to hide this concern from BD, but the panic in the pit of my stomach will not go away.
When I was living with BD I worked so hard with him, hence the playing with the puppies. We tried agility. We walked where other dogs were. I had him with Mity (which still happens occasionally) I read books, searched online, stalked pet bloggers… but now I am not it is harder to work with him; especially considering I spend a lot more time walking none responsive Mity.
Now when I see a dog in the distance regardless of who I am walking I freeze. I look for escape route and run walk briskly in that direction.
Here’s the thing. BD is perfectly happy on a walk with me. So long as he has his tennis ball he genuinely could not give a dam whether or not there is another dog. In fact he may prefer that there isn’t. Mity and BD can be walked together, and have been often where they just ignore each other. BD is a little bit of a pain on a lead and will bark at another dog. I don’t leave the house without BDs muzzle and if I see another dog in the distance, the muzzle goes on. He is never put in a position where he can hurt another dog. He is never put in a position where he needs to feel threatened by another dog.
Reading about BDs fear aggression I was advised not to avoid dogs. It makes it worse when you run into them. But when I only have him for two walks a week, and I have tactics to deploy if we do meet a dog, am I being selfish not taking time to actively work on this and relying instead on evasive actions?