More and more folks are walking their dogs on the Monon. Lots of people are in downtown Carmel with their pets. What do you do when your dog goes a little crazy around all of the other dogs? Here are a few suggestions.
1. STAY CALM. If you become angry, hysterical, loud or violent, you only add to the stress that has put him over his emotional threshold. As horrifying as his display may be, your emotion only makes it worse for him. Try “square breathing”: breathe in for three seconds; hold for three seconds; breathe out for three seconds; hold for three seconds; repeat.
2. Leave. When your dog is having a huge emotional outburst, the best thing you can do is take him away. He is emotionally out of control, and all your pleas to sit or lie down are fruitless; he literally is unable to process your cues.
3. Create Distance. If you can’t leave for some reason, at least put distance between your dog and other dogs in the area. Most dogs have a threshold distance at which they are able to maintain self-control. It may be as close as 20 feet or as far as 100 yards, and may vary somewhat from one day to the next.
4. Use a visual barrier. Most dog-reactive dogs are most stimulated by the sight of another dog. Try putting a visual barrier between your dog and whatever causes him to become aroused. You can use your own body, stepping between him and the others. Or, train him to step behind you and sit when he sees another dog at a distance. Look for a hedge you can step behind with your dog, or a wall, fence or building that will block his sight.
If his arousal is a reaction to the sound of other dogs, try Mutt Muffs, available at safeandsoundpets.com, to dampen the volume of sounds he can hear. But be careful! He won’t be able to hear approaching vehicles, or other sounds that help to keep him safe.
5. Teach him an emergency exit. Make this a fun game that you can play when there aren’t other dogs around. Your cue should be something that lends itself to happy play, such as “whee!” or “Runawaay!” Teach it when your dog is waling with you on a leash by saying the cue in a loud, happy, high voice and then making a 180-degree turn and running as fast as you can in the opposite direction for at least 20 feet. Your dog should be galloping happily after you.
When you stop, toss yummy treats. The goal is to give him such a positive association with his run-away cue that he doesn’t think about getting aroused by the other dog who just popped out from behind a parked car.
I must warn everyone again, in this extremely hot weather DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG IN THE CAR (OR YOUR CHILDREN) UNATTENDED. It only takes a few minutes for the temp to reach over a hundred degrees in the car. Be very careful when walking your dog – they live in air conditioning just like we do. Keep plenty of water available for them at all times.