Here’s a familiar story to everyone who has had a dog-dog reactive dog: You’re out walking in the neighborhood, your own dog responsibly on leash, when you look up and there is a ___________ (pick one: set of Golden Retrievers, Jack Russel Terrier, Black Lab, trio of Dachshunds) charging toward you and your reactive dog. Many yards behind the oncoming bundle of doom, the owner waves and smiles, shouting “It’s okay!!! They love other dogs!!” Meanwhile, you’re not fine at all. Holy moly, now what? You know your dog is not going to react well, and you know the other owner has no control over his/her own dogs, who are running toward you.
This is when you want to employ what Karen London and I call the “Emergency Sit-Stay” in which you ask your dog to sit and stay behind you while you step forward and throw a handful of treats into the charging dog’s face. I learned this simple method from Trish King (don’t miss a chance to see her in a seminar, she rocks.) Even if your dog isn’t on a stay, the shower of treats in a dog’s face often stops them in their tracks. If you’ve tossed a fistful of treats, the dog(s) will spend several minutes searching them out in the grass while you and your dog slide away. This is described in detail in the booklet Feisty Fido and the Dog-Dog Reactive DVD, but here’s a video to illustrate the effectiveness of the treat tossing.
Katie and I made this video for two reasons: One, we wanted to convince people of its effectiveness. In my experience folks are extremely skeptical that his would ever work, and I have to add, understandably so. Until you’ve done it yourself, it’s hard to imagine it really working. Which leads to the second question: I’ve used this method only about 4 or 5 times (for myself and for clients), and wanted to test it out with a variety of dogs. Will it really work on some big, highly motivated dogs? Caveat here: This method would never stop a highly motivated, hard charging dog who is laser focused on attacking you or you dog. In that case you need something a lot more powerful. But as you’ll see, it works beautifully on the 4 dogs in the video, from tiny (Tootsie, a Cav visiting the farm,) to medium (Nasta, a neighbor’s Siberian,) to down right huge (Katie’s Dogo Lily and a friend’s galumpfy who-knows-what.)
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Heck if I know how things are there! We should be in Scotland by now, arriving today in Edinburg to get our paws on the ground before the seminar at Action 4 Dogs. Come up if you’re a blog reader or FB reader, always fun to meet you in person…. I’ll write a few Travelblogs as I can, after the seminar and then from the World Herding Dog Trials in the Lake District of England. Oh wow, how fun will that be! [To Willie: I miss you already. I know, it’s ridiculous, but there it is. Please please be careful with your shoulder Mister, when I get back you can be off leash for a few minutes at time in that funny suit you practiced wearing today!]