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Living with a Reactive Dog

Author: Sarah Gaziano | Date: December 29, 2011

I have the most annoying dog in the world. At night he has to either sleep on my head or under the covers between my legs. He’s always begging for food, and he lays on every piece of furniture in the house, including the coffee table, when I’m not looking. Even at this very moment, he’s trying to crawl on my lap while I’m typing and trying to lay on my laptop. ANNOYING.

To be fair, I could train him to stop doing all these things, but I don’t really care, because it doesn’t annoy me that much. I can live with it and laugh at him. Every time he does something annoying he furrows his brow and makes this silly face. I love that face. I will put up with his annoying behavior as long as he gives me that wonderful, adorable face.

But Eddy does have one very large, very annoying habit that I work on everyday: his reactivity toward other dogs. Around people, he is very sweet. He can be a bit shy, but warms up rather quickly and is never confrontational in anyway. However, with dogs it’s a whole other story. Being a dog trainer and working in the office of a dog training company, I am constantly surrounded by dogs. For simple safety reasons, I don’t allow him to play with other dogs, and I do my best to make sure that other dogs do not greet him.

But some people have no idea. He makes that wonderful, adorable face at them and they want to meet him. They want their dog to meet him. I take him for walks when there are barely any people around, I cross the street and mostly I just play with Eddy in our decent sized yard. Knowing how to read dog behavior, I know that dogs make Eddy anxious and that he is happier in my house and my yard, not at a dog park or on the street, but its hard, because I want to take him to those places and not have to worry whenever I take him outside.

The bottom line is that owning a reactive dog requires management, observance and patience. Eddy has been through our Doggone Issues class three times, and while he can get bored at times, I learn something new every class. But that’s what it takes. Owning a reactive dog means that as the doggy parent, we must be on the lookout for things that set our dogs off. We must remember that you can’t teach a dog a new behavior in a day, and sometimes, we even have to put up with a few annoying qualities. For me, all the work, time and effort are worth it. Just for that wonderful, adorable face.

 


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