Help! I’m at the end of my rope and don’t know where to turn. I have a 6.5-lb Doxipoo who had a traumatic experience when his littermate brother was killed by a Chow/Lab mix when we were out on a walk. Guinness has always been timid, but since the incident he goes crazy with aggression whenever another dog is near. I recently took a chance and brought home a new puppy to whom he adapted almost immediately, but trying to socialize him with any other dog is impossible. I enrolled him in a repeat basic class just to have him around other dogs and focus on me. We left class last night with me in tears. I don’t know what to try next. He is the sweetest thing in the world and loves people until another dog comes close. —Gwen Baer, Elmhurst, IL
Try using a head collar and a regular 6-foot leash. Be more alert than Guinness. When you see dogs approaching from a distance, don’t tense up. Instead, be relaxed and confident and then make better things happen at a distance, where you can succeed before you move too close. This may take longer than other methods, but you are getting to the underlining problem, not putting a Band-Aid on it. Give Guinness his regular meals [dole out as treats] during walks and bigger rewards when you see other dogs.
Keep your dog’s harness and leash on throughout the day, but never unattended. Exit your backyard from a side gate and come around to your front porch. Sit on the front steps of the porch and ignore any fearful behavior. Instead, wait and then reward relaxed and confident behavior with little bites of amazing food. When your dog is relaxed enough to sit on the porch, give her belly rubs, massages, treats, and meals out there until the problem is resolved.
Steve Brooks is a certified pet dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and founded SteveBrooksK9U in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles in 1999. Thousands of dogs have graduated from K9U, and Brooks’ clients include Hollywood celebrities and everyday dog lovers. Brooks is also a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the Southern California Dog Trainers Forum. You can visit his website at SteveBrooksK9U.com.
* The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Tails Pet Media Group, Inc. Please consult your veterinarian before making any major decisions for your pet.