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Friday, August 23, 2013

Why reactive dogs should stay on leash

Do you live with a dog who charges humans or other dogs other animals?  Whether this is due to fear, frustration or aggression, it's best to keep your pet on leash when you are not in a secured area.  Here are a few reasons why

1. The more a dog practices an undesirable behavior, the harder it will be to fix it.  And often the behavior can escalate.

2. Reactivity is stressful. Stress hormones can accumulate in dogs who feel they must constantly defend themselves. Stress in one area can spill over into other areas.  A dog can develop behavior problems or even physical problems that don't appear to be related to the charging.

3. It's not fair to the dog/human/cat/etc.. being charged.
A. The chargee could be traumatized or hurt by your charging dog
B. You dog could be hurt by the chargee who feels the need to defend him/herself
C. Your dog could get hurt by the human who is defending his/her companion

4. If a fight happens, no matter who is at fault, it's likely that the off leash dog will be blamed.

5. If a fight happens and someone is bitten or injured, your dog could get blamed
A. Your dog could be taken away by authorities and/or you might face fines
B. You might get sued

Since your dog needs to stay on leash, do not walk him/her in designated off-leash areas. Being on leash while other dog are running around off leash can be frustrating for your dog.

Additionally, while your dog is on leash, be sure to keep your distance from the the things your dog wants to charge.  For example, if your dog charges other dogs, give yourselves the length of your leash, plus the length of the other dog's leash, plus 10 feet.
So, if your dog and an approaching dog are on 6 foot leashes, make sure there is at least a 22 foot distance as you pass by people and their dogs.  A greater distance is better. Twenty-two would be the bare minimum.
See how to walk strategically here

Note that having a good recall is great. But reactive dogs who have a great recall still should not be off leash.  Your dog might see something he/she wants to charge before you have a chance to call him/her back to you.

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