Avoiding reactivity - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 05:22 AM Thread Starter
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Avoiding reactivity

I've been reading up on how to deal with dogs that bark at dogs, cars, strangers etc when on leash and I'm wondering if someone has any advice on how to avoid developing these problems in the first place? Our puppy is still only 9 weeks, learning the basics of leash walking inside and on our land ie a blank slate. I'm paranoid that as soon as I get him out and about in an urban environment he will be scared and start developing leash reactive behaviour. Should I deny people and dogs to greet him when we are out and about? Even if he seems relaxed? Should I start in a really busy location where all the noise is sort of drowned out or somewhere with just a few cars and people that he can watch from a distance? He has started learning watch me and leave it, but it is early days so we are not into proofing the behaviour yet do using these commands out and about would be asking way too much. What can I do instead if I see he starts to get a bit too interested in for instance a car? Advice much appreciated!
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 05:56 AM
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first be aware that there is reactivity and leash frustration. They can look the same but be different. Reactivity can be a reaction to a perceived threat. Leash frustration is when you dog may want to go explore something or meet someone (like another dog) but gets frustrated when held back.

In both cases, distance is your friend. If you stay calm and stay far enough away that you pup can watch without expectation of interacting, start there. People will call that "being under threshold". Over time, days or weeks, move a little closer. Watch you pup. A little shyness is a good thing at first. They need to think about what they are looking at. Encourage them exploring new things but don't force them if you can avoid it. One day you pup might see something odd, like a statue of a person, and bark at it. If you keep it a calm non-event the next time your pup won't be bothered by it at all.

And if you aren't in a city, I'd avoid the busy intersections. Those can be overwhelming even for grown humans, never mind a young pup who can't figure out how to deal with it.

And don't worry about "proofing" anytime soon. Your pup will be going through phases and what they excel at one day they can be block heads about the next. Give your pup a chance to grow, mature, get some self control, etc before testing the limits and proofing.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 07:29 AM
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If the puppy is not reactive off leash, you probably don’t have a problem except letting the pup grow up.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 09:35 AM
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I would not take a little puppy out to walk in public until they were fully vaccinated. What I did was carry Inga into Petsmart, Tractor Supply and such places, wipe off the cart with disinfectant and put her in the shopping cart to ride around. Then she was off the floor, close to me and I could keep her above other dogs and keep people from petting her. In other words I had total control. She rode a cart in for her rabies shot at Tractor supply to see the traveling vet service. A year later she remembered the same vet and was glad to see her again.

Last edited by Nurse Bishop; 01-02-2018 at 09:37 AM.
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