1

What my dog likes the most is a ball he has and I usually just pick up the ball to play and he completely focuses on it. He is a crossbreed with a Portuguese breed (Podengo) that from what I searched are hunting dogs, I believe some of his characteristics are because of that (hyper focus, agility, strength, and energy). we adopted him during the lockdown, so he didn't have much contact with other dogs and people during his first year. Although eventually he goes to daycare and seems to have no problems there.

My problem is when we're walking him on a leash and he sees another dog he gets completely crazy, I can't bring his focus back to me with either the ball or the treats, I'm completely ignored. The most I can do is make him sit down and stop pulling, but still, he stays focused on the other dog and if I try to walk he starts pulling toward the dog again. He is not aggressive, but he is so intense that the other dog and owner end up being scared by this reaction (with reason).

Any suggestions on what I can do in these situations, if not even with his favorite toy I can get his attention again?

4
  • I would assume that you need to break this pattern at an earlier stage. Before your dog loose focus, you need to start. And also stop the circumstances at this point (dogs not getting closer together). This may be simpler in a controled interaction for training purpose with a befriended dog owner. Then, if your dog and you are more secure in this "far away" situation, you can start to reduce the distance step by step. Nov 8, 2022 at 21:29
  • The key seems to be to make you more attractive than the other dog. And it is difficult, because the excitement is a great feeling for your dog and is itself a reward which motivates him to redo again and again Nov 8, 2022 at 21:32
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Best way to introduce a leash-reactive dog?
    – Allison C
    Nov 9, 2022 at 14:53
  • Hey, @AllisonC thanks for the suggestion. I think it's a little different, he doesn't have problems with other dogs or leashes, my concern is more the state he gets in when seeing other dogs/cats the anxiety and excitement to go near, although sometimes the other dog can be scared by this like is mentioned in that other question Nov 16, 2022 at 13:01

1 Answer 1

4

I've taken my dog to reactivity training and they teach counterconditioning and the color zones method to help manage a dog's reactivity when out on walks or otherwise interacting with the outside world.

Your dog has three zones:

Green: safe, comfortable, relaxed

Yellow: beginning to fixate, may start tugging, growling, or whining

Red: loses control (no longer responds to commands)

Your goal is to keep him in the green zone as much as possible and eventually help increase his threshold around other dogs so that his yellow zone turns green, so to speak. You want to keep him out of his red zone as much as possible.

Once he's stopped responding to you and is completely fixated (and reacting) to the other dog, it's too late—that is his red zone, and you need to prevent him from entering that. You need to turn around and go another direction BEFORE he enters his red zone. So if you're on a walk, and your dog notices another dog (or squirrel or rabbit), you want to get his attention before he can begin to fixate. This is where you can give a command, then a treat. You are helping break his concentration on that other dog and you're reinforcing that seeing other dogs is not a bad thing. Also, by performing a command/trick, they can also shift that energy from the creature to their job. But your dog may escalate from green to yellow to red very quickly, in which case you need to turn around sooner rather than later. With time and practice, you will extend that threshold and be able to work more in that yellow zone to bring him back to green.

Other exercises to try include sitting near an area with other dogs coming and going, but not your front yard (his territory) or a dog park (too overwhelming). Keep treats available and remember to have different levels of treats that you can turn to when you need to really get his attention and regular kibble won't do. When a dog comes into view, speak calmly to your dog and give him a treat. Be sure to give him lots of praise for staying calm. If he gets out of control, take him inside. Start with just a few minutes every day, working into longer windows as he becomes comfortable. It's also recommended to not undo all that hard work of counterconditioning by letting your dog sit at a window where he can bark at creatures passing by unless you're there to do the counterconditioning exercises.

This takes work, but it's worth it in the long run for you and your dog. When you're out with your dog, you should work on

The trainer I went to and learned this from also wrote a book that he provides to all class participants, but it's also available on Amazon.

1
  • Thank you for the tips! It's really helpful I kind of tried to implement it but in a way that I was noticing his actions and trying to anticipate me, but your tips are interesting, I'll try and then come back to say if it worked. Thanks! Nov 16, 2022 at 12:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.