In home consultations.
What is leash reactivity?
Excessive pulling or lunging in the presence of other dogs or people.
Barking, whining and growling
Loss of focus/attention on the person holding the leash
Fixates on other dogs or people
Can sometimes be towards vehicles, skateboarders, joggers...etc
Note: If there has been a sudden change in your dog's behaviour that you have not seen before, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues.
Why do dogs become reactive?
There are 2 reasons why dogs are reactive, it's important to know that your dog can be either or even a mix of both :
Dogs who are afraid make a big dramatic display in order to increase distance from what is scaring them. Often dogs learn that barking and lunging is a sure way of scaring someone off.
"I want to go see my friends but I can't"!!! These dogs are frustrated by being on leash, as they would rather go say hi to their friends.
How do we tell fear and frustration apart?
Just by looking at a dog's reaction on leash, you cannot tell if it's fear or frustration. Their play history with other dogs is the best source of information to help us determine what is going on. A dog with a good play history, who has doggie friends and frequents the dog park, lets me know it's probably frustration, while a dog who often snarks off other dogs, and rarely plays would lean more towards the fearful side.
No play history?
Completely depending on how you feel, we can either move forward presuming this dog is afraid or we can test it out with a bomb-proof* dog. A muzzle is always used in these contexts because safety first! From there, based on the dogs reaction, we can determine our proper course of action!
*Bomb-proof dog is a dog who has great play skills with other dogs, and has lots of experience meeting new friends. These dogs are not bothered by being barked at and keep their cool when being snarked off.