Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dog Issues

So my neighbor has started to believe that Sally has taught her dog Duke some bad behaviors. It's highly possible, although I think he already had these behaviors to begin with. We have been walking our dogs together every day for a year now. When Sally is on leash, and another dogs walks by, she goes crazy. I use a "Haltie" on her, which is like a horse halter, but it tightens when I pull on the leash. It doesn't hurt, but it does force her mouth closed, and gives me total control over her head....which in turn gives me control of her 74 pound body. So when she starts barking at other dogs, I make her sit, and I hold the haltie tight so she can't explode. Off leash she is fine, and LOVES to meet other dogs, and does well. But she gets frustrated that the leash holds her back from meeting the other dog. I think this is a direct result of not being socialized as a puppy. It is so crucial in the first months of life to socialize dogs. I know vets say to keep them out of public places because of diseases like Parvo, but they should be socialized as quickly as possible.

I think that if Sally taught Duke bad manners, then it is also possible that her dog Charlie taught some to Sally. She used to never bark at people when we were walking. But now if someone is wearing something weird, like huge sunglasses, or a big hat, she will bark. Once again, I make her sit and be good while they walk by.

I've never had a dog with this many issues before. It's really a lot of work to condition her to react differently. I do see some small progress, but it sure is discouraging. She has gotten better passing a fence that has a barking dog behind it. I have been really working with her to get her to walk by calmly. Now if we could just do it with dogs she can see.

Another discouraging aspect to this is that little dogs get away with it. If she were a tiny yap yap dog with a high pitched bark, people would ignore her. But when you have 74 pounds of deep scary barking, people aren't so understanding. I recognize her barks, and I know when she is excited, and when she is fearful. But the stranger walking past doesn't know. I think my next dog will be a little dog. I don't think that as I age will be able to handle this much dog. I can now, but I can't see myself handling this big of a dog at 60. And I"m definitely getting a puppy next time so I can socialize it young to hopefully dodge some of these issues.

I personally don't think Duke is going to get any better walking separate from us. The sad thing is that my neighbor will probably always blame it on Sally. But the one good thing that comes out of this is that I will actually get more exercise this way. When I walk with her alone, I do more walking. Maybe she will be better without the other dogs setting her off. And in the meantime, maybe I will lose a little weight!


Oswegan said...

Wow! Sounds like you have your hands full! You have the right attitude I think. We recently entered the dog world and got a Westie puppy in February.

Delirious said...

I love Westies! They are cute terriers without the extra 70 pounds. lol I have a neighbor down the street who has two. Maybe next time I'll go for a small terrier. My husband wants a pomeranian...go figure...