Last week I was talking to Becky from BPawsitive (who is wonderful and we share the same ethics) about a chat I had with one of her mutual Clients.
The couple have a German Shepherd rescue and are wonderful owners. Doing everything that they can to support their dog.
It's completely normal to feel that you're not doing enough or not doing enough for your reactive dog. Because we love them and we are human and many humans feel guilt, stress and worry that they are not enough or have failed their beloved companion.
One thing that affects most owners of reactive dogs is that they want their dog to have doggy friends.
And its sad for us to hear this from dog owners as we know from Scientists and extensive research from observing dogs for endless months in third world villages that dogs aren't sociable animals and they don't move in groups or hang out. The most they found dogs to collectively join together was through scavenging at the same time at dusk. https://www.researchgate.net/.../37692202_Dogs-A...
As the world becomes more dense with dogs and more and more households own dogs its not uncommon to see dogs reacting to other dogs or showing fearful behaviours.
Does this mean the owners have failed the dog?
No, not at all. Because we know that this is an unnatural environment, we have a greater understanding of dogs all of the time. That genetics can play a big role in dog behaviour as well as exposure to environments.
Dogs don't actually need dog friends to thrive and in a lot of dogs cases, this can actually be the complete opposite.
Instead like the mutual Client, meeting the Dogs needs through enrichment, mental stimulation, training sessions, playing in the garden, scent driven walks and an enclosed field to run is meeting all of his needs to make him happy.
What doesn't make this dog happy is other dogs and he is really scared of them. So instead of seeking a solution to have dog friends the solution instead is to aid the fear and help him to cope when he sees other dogs. Not that he has to play with them, but changing his emotional feelings towards other dogs is the goal.
We as humans don't like all the other humans that we meet, some of us hate socialising with a passion and or are also unable to do this due to anxiety and other mental health issues which prohibits us from socialisation and some humans just find this too scary and uncomfortable.
Dogs have been Hollywoodvised for lack of a better word or Disneyvised, projecting unrealistic ideologies and expectations of dogs.
Lassie being a great example or Beethoven, or animated dogs saving the city and falling in love.
It does sound silly typing this out too, but we as humans do look to the ideologies we grow up with and are taught about how animals live and of course look to Google for solutions too.
But you and you alone are enough for your reactive dog and the goal shouldn't be to play with other dogs but to change the emotion and the fear of the presence of other dogs, humans, cars or whatever the trigger is.
These protocols are especially helpful for doing this:
Dr. Karen Overall Calm Protocol
Control Unleashed Reactive To Relaxed https://www.amazon.co.uk/.../ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_fabc...
Hunting Together: Harnessing Predatory Chasing in Family Dogs through Motivation-Based Training (Predation Substitute Training) https://www.amazon.co.uk/.../ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i...
Grisha Stewart: Bat 2.0 https://amzn.to/37iAgev
Fulfilling your reactive dogs life is about helping them with their fears and how they cope within the environment.
As well as the protocols you can also look at: sniffy walks, enclosed dog fields to hire, scentwork, tricks, conditioning, rally - o, enrichment, brain games, disc, canicross and so much more.
As well as online classes to avoid your dog being in a stressful environment surrounded by other dogs. As well as many more activities you can do with your dog one on one and let them enjoy life and you enjoy them equally.
Don't let the media and other sources put pressure onto you and your dog, meet your dog's needs as you see them as an individual.
Because we guarantee that your dog appreciates all that you do for them.
For Miyagis Dog Training