Today we’re going to be talking about working with leash reactive dogs and give the solution on your query that What is the least effective method to retrieve a dog that has got off leash? Leash reactivity is a really common problem many dog owners face. There are already some great article out there showing owners how to counter condition leash reactive dogs so that passing dogs on walks isn’t such a big deal. Instead, in this article, I’m going to show you some of the mistakes I’ve made in working with my rescue dog Remy on his leash reactivity issues.
Hopefully seeing my mistakes will help you avoid them when you’re working on leash reactivity with your own dog. Here’s Remy and I on a walk. i just spotted a dog in the distance. Oh there’s a dog up there! You can’t see it but I can see it. So we’re gonna see how this goes. I probably won’t film the actual interaction since I need to focus, but I’ll tell you what happens afterwards.- A few moments later – Okay, as you can see, Remy here is staring at this dog and owner.
I’m going to click since he’s not lunging or barking. And as you can see, when I clicked he came over to me. Now if I clicked and he didn’t respond and continued staring at the dog, that would mean we were too close. They’re getting a little closer.. Oh see – he didn’t respond, so we’re going to move back a little bit. Come on bud. This is not my drive way but sometimes you have to go up stranger’s driveways to give yourself that extra distance.
Are they still there? They are! That guy’s on his phone – he’s not really paying attention to what’s going on. Remy, come on bud. Oh! And this is a this is a fail. That was a failure because Remy was lunging and barking. We’re just gonna wait until they walk by.- Five minutes later – He’s being pretty calm now so… OK, that did not go well. There was a lot of barking and yelling and lunging and as you can see, Remy is still very amped up even though the dog is long gone.
I have a few theories on why that didn’t go well. For one. I think we didn’t have quite as much distance as we really needed, even going up on that driveway. I think we really needed more distance. The other dog and owner were also taking their time. The dog and owner were taking their time walking by us, which made it harder for Remy because he had to stare at that dog for a long time watching him walk by. The owner and dog on the walk were not paying attention.
The owner was on his cell phone and not really paying attention to what was going on. The other problem is that I wasn’t giving my full attention because I was filming. And that’s 100% on me. I really need to be giving Remy my undivided attention when we see a dog. I need to be giving him treats pretty much constantly. He’s just still the point where he needs me to be clicking and treating pretty much all the time. Oh look there’s another dog! That’s the great thing about weekends, there are so many dogs around.
One other mistake I didn’t realize I made until later is that i didn’t load up my treat pouch with high value treats. I ran out of hot dog pieces so I decided to try green beans instead. Big mistake! Remy does like green beans when we’re practicing tricks indoors, but outside on a walk green beans are no competition against interest in dog. I suspect the encounter would have gone a lot better if I had been working with higher value treats like hot dog slices, chunks of chicken, or these Zuke’s treats instead of frozen green beans.
As you can see these Zuke’s treats are nice and moist. They’re stinky too! Much better for keeping a dog’s attention than frozen veggies. This was a disappointing setback since we’ve generally been doing pretty well on leash walks compared to where we used to be. You really do want to do everything you can to prevent this kind of behaviour because the more your dog lunges and barks with other dogs on walks, the more reinforcing it becomes simply by your dog being allowed to do it.
It’s always disappointing when a training walk doesn’t go the way we’d like, but try not to be too hard on yourself. This is a learning process for both me and Remy, and unless you’re a pro trainer already, working with a reactive dog is probably new to you too. So try not to beat yourself up when situations like this happen.