I’ve taken a new approach with Luna lately when it comes to dogs. It’s a way that has helped with her reaction to vehicles passing us on the gravel road we walk down everyday. I guess I will start there….
Lu has had this issue since day one when I adopted her. When a vehicle is about to pass us while we are walking, she is already head low, lip licking, ready to pounce. When the vehicle goes by she does indeed lunge at the vehicle, which leaves me gripping the leash and holding her back. There is also a growl/bark in this motion. Oddly enough though, when I go to the city where cars are constantly going by us, she has no reaction. So finally after trying a few things, I found something that worked….as soon as she sees the vehicle we stop and she sits. At first I would be facing her so I could block the lunge and basically back her up (by walking towards her) into her sit again. (I’ll start backing her up if she is too focused on the vehicle as it approaches)This has been very, very successful. When she sees a vehicle now, she comes to my side, walks with me until I stop and she automatically sits, car goes by, and we continue walking. She hasn’t been able to carry this over into a continuous walk while the car goes by but we are still working on this by shortening the distance between car approaching and her having to sit.
So for dogs. When we see the dog, she sits and we go through the “don’t attack the cars” routine. Amazingly it has been working quite well! Unfortunately I require the understanding and help of strangers whose dogs are on leash and more importantly the dogs that we come upon off leash.
As I said before, Luna is doing really well with this routine so by the time I am speaking to the owner of the dog approaching, Lu is in her sit position and is just watching the other dog approach. I usually ask them to leash their dog or at least keep it close to them while they walk by and the reason I give is that my dog is afraid of dogs. Most people are like oh sure no problem and are happy for Lu after they pass and she has no reaction to their dog. I also thank these people for helping us.
And then there are other people….yesterday on our walk in the city, two men walking their unleashed bouncy little dogs…came up behind Lu and I. When she saw them I had her sit and wait while I asked them to call their dogs. For some reason I didn’t say Lu was afraid of dogs, I said my dog is not good with other dogs especially when they’re running up on her. And they said ” well she looks alright, they’ll just walk up to her”. Since they obviously didn’t understand what I was trying to do, I just stood watching Lu’s reaction to the dog now trying to sniff her butt. Lu’s now standing and lunges at the dog and has a complete screaming high pitch freak out melt down when the leash pulls her back. Thanks a lot stranger!
Even though I will occasionally run into people who are not willing to help I have had more success with Luna doing this than I have ever had before. And all this success has come with minimal use of the gentle lead. This makes me happy.
Speaking of gentle lead….