Hello! I have two dogs with two different sets of reactivity triggers when going on walks. My mini Aussie (9 years old) is textbook dog agressive, has been since 8 weeks old. Growls, lunges, will chase etc. No fear. I did puppy classes, obedience classes, rally classes etc with her for the first couple years of her life and continued to work with her out of classes but the dog reactivity never got better. She can be distracted with a tennis ball but that’s about it and it’s never been THAT good of a distraction, just a bit of one. Other than that, she’s great. Good off leash and great recall as long as there isn’t another dog. Loves to play fetch and do tricks.
My second dog is a hound mix (7 years) and while he is not dog agressive at all, he gets super wound up at smells and sights. When he sees a dog at a distance, he goes nuts; big bay barking and levitates in place. While he is just a big doof, this is also an issue on walks. His currency is food but that goes out the window when he sees or smells something interesting which is about everything.
Between the two of them, they are nearly impossible to handle walking and are extremely unruly and LOUD when another dog is in sight. Currently I live on property with private trails so walking them there is much more manageable however, we will be moving to a neighborhood environment in a few weeks and I’m sure we will run into other dog walkers.
In the house these dogs are both saints. They know their commands, respect their boundaries, and are very well behaved. Every dog sitter I’ve ever had has said they are some of the best dogs they sit for.
I am a proponent for positive reinforcement and just haven’t had an ounce of success over the years other than avoiding the stimulants altogether. Has anyone had success with walking with muzzles to physically minimize the barking? I don’t love the idea but seems to be better than a bark collar or something along those lines. It also my might be a good visual for people not to approach too which I don’t like (with other dogs at least).
My thought is I’d be able to work with them both muzzle on 1:1 and the hope would be to get them used to the quiet walks enough to take them off. I’ve not been able to work 1:1 in the past because the Aussie had ridiculous separation anxiety and I could never leave her home and work with the hound living by myself.
I’m at my wits end when it comes to this type of environment with them and need to find a compromise to get them outside and exercised but not being a nuisance to the neighbors and other walkers. Happy for other suggestions.