Walking a Reactive Dog

So I have two reactive dogs, or should I say one reactive dog that gets the bigger dog all riled up. Because of this we are much more careful about their interactions with other dogs and try to only set them up for success. This almost always means avoiding strange dogs on our walks. Most of the time I am walking them by myself so avoidance is usually the best solution, but this isn’t always possible. To help have better control of them we use special collars with nose loops designed to help prevent pulling. This has been a life (and shoulder) saver! We also use clicker training combined with positive reinforcement (treat based) training methods. All of these steps have made great improvements in my dogs’ behavior, however, it will forever be an ongoing problem. I understand this and have accepted it. What bothers me though is how disrespectful others can be about it. Let me explain what I mean by this. There are some dog owners that seem completely unaware of the steps I am taking to help my dogs and often push my dogs’ limits. Most of these dogs are on retractable leashes, meaning they have a long range of distance often without owner control. Look I’m not telling you how to walk your dog or asking you to necessarily do anything different; I would just like a little more respect for the way I am walking my dogs. For example I was walking my dogs yesterday when I saw a dog walking toward us. I pulled my dogs off to the side and kept their attention with treats. The dog and owner approached us and the owner allowed their dog to come right beside my dogs. This bothered me because I had moved greater than six feet away from the sidewalk, the maximum leash length allowed by most cities. Not only had I made a great effort to get away but it was also visually obvious that I was trying to distance my dogs and distract them. All social cues would say this is not an invitation for your dog to come and join us. This happens all the time though and other owners don’t even care about the position they are putting me in. So when I get off the path to distract my dogs by let’s say hiding behind a large bush, this is not an invitation for your dog to come and join me. Again I am not trying to change the way you walk your dog, that’s why I’m getting out of the way, but I would really appreciate more respect for what I need to do for my own dogs. I’m sure these owners mean well and don’t have any experience dealing with a reactive dog and I get that, but sometimes I get a little frustrated and need to vent. So rant over.

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