@shelties_by_magdischa

Advice

Dear Mary Puppins: I Can’t Walk All of My Dogs at Once

@shelties_by_magdischa

Dear Mary Puppins,

I have 3 pups who all have their own issues. They trigger each other’s reactivity when we take them to go potty at our apartment. We have been working on them separately with separate potty breaks. Kill Dog, my older Chihuahua, he barks to be heard. The younger chihuahua, MJ, is terrified of everything. She lunges and barks at anything and everything. And Marley, she is my young pit/husky mix, is insecure and tends to feed off of MJ’s energy.

Any suggestions on how to slowly get them to walk together with no reactions?

Thank you,

Dog Mom of Three

Dear Dog Mom of Three,

I would first like to commend you for implementing the immediate management: walking them separately and allowing for each dog to have their own individual potty breaks. This is a crucial step in preventing the behavior of the reactions, especially if each of your dogs are feeding off of one another. 

Now, it’s time to dive deeper and identify what it is exactly that triggers each of your dogs, individually. 

Triggers are anything in the environment that causes your dog to have a “reactive moment” where they are either barking, lunging and growling. Or even freezing, crouching and escaping. The goal is to change the feelings about these triggers by showing each of your dogs that when the trigger approaches, great things happen!

My favorite pattern game for helping to change these feelings is from “Control Unleashed: Reactive to Relaxed,” written by Leslie McDevitt.

This game is the Look at That game, otherwise known as LAT

During LAT, you are having a conversation with your dog about their trigger. This is done by watching, listening and truly observing your dog. 

With LAT, the goal is to mark the moment that your dog is aware of the trigger, whether that be another dog, a human or even a bike, with either a clicker or a verbal marker such as “yes!” or “good!” Following that marker, you will feed your dog a super delicious, high value reward. Such as, boiled chicken, cheese, hot dogs or some stinky fish treats.

A few ways that your dogs can be telling you that they are aware of their trigger by either orienting towards it, reorienting to you while the trigger is near by or even a simple ear flick in the direction of the trigger. All of those moments = yummy yummy food!

So, scary thing + yummy food = a new feeling about the scary thing.

Once you feel each dog is getting the hang of the game individually, you can begin introducing them together.

I would recommend taking your pups to a nice, trigger free, quiet and open area such as a school during off hours, business parks on the weekends or empty church parking lots. Start by working with just two of your dogs at a time. Have each dog in a harness with a long leash attached to them, allowing them to sniff, run, play and simply be dogs together.

During this sniffy walk, bring along delicious treats and start rewarding your dogs anything they are doing great things! This will help them to feel more confident together and bring their attention onto you.

I wish you the best on this journey and remember, if they can’t all 3 be walked at the same time, that’s totally okay! The goal should be on making sure each pup is comfortable, safe and secure.

Good luck!

Mary Puppins

 

light blue abstract shape

During this sniffy walk, bring along delicious treats and start rewarding your dogs anything they are doing great things! This will help them to feel more confident together and bring their attention onto you.

beagle
Conversation
  • Be the first to post a comment.