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Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 7:42 pm
by connie
I am doing a Beginner's Agility class with Miss Dee, to see if she likes it, and it's at the training center where Rowley has one of his weekly lessons. I've known this trainer for 25 years and I like her a lot. She's a FB friend and a friend, so I'm not about to put this on FB, it's got nothing to do with her.

The Beginner class is taught by instructors and divided into four working groups, with 3 or 4 dogs in each group. We work in stations, doing weaves for ten minutes and then moving on to a tunnel-jump station, etc. Very basic. Half the group is green dogs like Dee, the other half is Advanced Beginner.

I have been to two classes with Dee, and at both of them, I have had to step quickly between her and a larger dog that lunged at her, more than once; and as well as finding it annoying, I am wondering what the heck -- ? There seem to be a LOT of reactive dogs nowadays, or are there just rude dogs with dim-bulb owners?

These are the dogs that have seen Dee and gone for her (repeatedly): a very young Boxer, whose owner is a girl in her early 20s with absolutely no control of any kind over the dog; a 3-year old Airedale whose owner, a woman in her 40s, says she's had three other Airedales and never had one so hair-trigger as this one; and a young long-haired GSD whose owner is a woman in her 60s who has no business with such a large and determined dog, and who is going to sustain some broken bones along the way or I miss my guess. Whether she gets those from her dog or from me, I'm not sure yet.

I know Dee meets the look of other dogs with a hard stare. When I got her, she was enormously reactive on the leash when we were on walks, and I have spent a lot of time learning to head off confrontations of looks before they occur. Dee would rather have food than anything, so I can keep her attention on me with a treat, and she won't go looking for trouble. But good grief, it seems like most of the dogs in the class are of the 'see small dog, lunge at small dog, pull owner off balance' persuasion. What's up with that?

Oh, and we have had no such issues at all with the Collie or the Flat-Coat Retriever. And the instructors are really good about watching for this stuff and heading it off, so no actual contact has been made, but the behavior is there.

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:27 am
by emmas_mom
Where I live, there are certainly more dogs of unknown histories (imports, dog brokers, as well as legitimate local rescues), many of which likely did not receive any socialization and/or training during their first months/years of life. That can lead to dogs who have bad manners, and/or don't know how to read other dogs' communication. I've certainly seen a rise in reactive dogs here, and my Maggie reacts to reactive dogs plus has a bit of a hair-trigger herself though she is fine with 90% of dogs she meets. No idea what sets her off when she is the one to start it. She is like Dee, so we have made great progress, but some days are better than others. And once she gets excited by one dog, getting her to mellow out again is very difficult - she is on high alert for all dogs for the rest of that walk. Or maybe I am, and she picks up on it. :(

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:48 pm
by whiteboxerboy
I'm way more crabby these days, glad i'm not alone in this.

As far as your classmates are concerned, I think you sort of answered your own question.

Young Boxer = not getting enough exercise in general paired with NO boundaries and clueless human? Yeah, he's gonna be a jerk.

I can't comment on the Airedale though it sounds like he might have been dropped on his head or is just not right. Poor dog.

GSD = YIKES!!!! That's too bad.

All of these dogs plus those fools at the AAT high school class and it's no wonder you feel surrounded by reactive dogs. Hopefully this isn't taking too much of a toll on Dee.

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:38 pm
by maxs_mommy
I think too that people with reactive dogs are a little bit more proactive about training classes as something to do and keyed into getting a trainer so your classes may be more saturated. Easy dogs are easy so maybe they're less formally trained. While I think all dogs benefit from training, Joe dog owner may be fine with some treats and teaching "shake" and "sit" and going to the dog park. Reactive dog owners manage reactive dogs and are constantly looking for "safe" outlets which have more structure since the world can be unsafe at large. It's not fair to non-reactive dogs and dogs who just want the class and I wish that classes would be a bit more segregated to work with reactive dogs and non-reactive dogs alike to help them all have a good experience.

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:13 pm
by connie
Actually, I think Dee draws some of this behavior -- if those dogs looked at Rowley, he would deflect it and be very non-confrontational, but Dee meets all looks with a hard stare of her own. She won't START something, but she'll tell you that she'll finish it! So I think she's a reactive dog in the mix herself. I guess I wish that other RD owners would keep a closer eye on their dogs, that's all ... it's tiring, I know because I spend the whole hour watching Dee and keeping her in a bubble that allows her to work.

I bet you're right, Ashley, and part of it is that more reactive dogs are going to training classes in one venue or another. Which is a good thing.

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:01 am
by MaisyPancakes
I took new no-name-dog for a spin around the 'hood several times, and noticed that an insane percentage of dogs we encountered (just on the other side of the street, mostly—I'm still on MP-cautious+++ mode!!!) were what any of us would consider plenty reactive...I'd say 8 out of 12?! You wouldn't know it from their humans' behavior, however: They'd be texting (!!), not giving any shits, with their dogs yo-yoing on flexis going bonkers; none of them even tried to move away! I dunno, I was pretty much terrified of running into other dogs, and developed lizard-owl vision (360º) and jingly tag super auditory powers (≤ mile away depending on the way the wind is blowing), and could tell from waaaaay out in the distance if a human was walking with a loose dog, just from the way/speed the person's body was moving. I almost envy the level of nonchalance these people were able to maintain. :eek:

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:59 am
by connie
I was just coming to the conclusion that there are way more CLUELESS OWNERS now, and your post supports that, Nana!

Dee's agility class has been uneventful. The young Boxer has moved to private lessons, the Airedale has settled in and is no longer hyper-aware of every little thing -- new class, new dogs, that's really common in all dogs to be overly reactive -- and the young GSD has an owner who is not only clueless, but completely and mind-bogglingly clueless. Gee, so glad she got a GSD instead of, say, a Bichon!

Every time the GSD's owner wanders too near me or puts her dog in Dee's line of sight, I ostentatiously and without a word step between her dog and my dog, or direct my dog away to another area of the floor. I don't think the dog means any harm to anyone, but with a clueless owner, his behavior is not consistent or responsive to his owner. I'd just as soon stay way away from him. He has lunged at a few other dogs in recent classes.

Ding ding ding ding, we have a winner, and the answer is: STUPID PEOPLE! Somehow I don't even require proof, that answer makes so much intuitive sense. :bah: :stupid:

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:54 pm
by Jen
dunno, I was pretty much terrified of running into other dogs, and developed lizard-owl vision (360º) and jingly tag super auditory powers (≤ mile away depending on the way the wind is blowing), and could tell from waaaaay out in the distance if a human was walking with a loose dog, just from the way/speed the person's body was moving. I almost envy the level of nonchalance these people were able to maintain. :eek:
I can so relate to this! Especially being able to tell loose dog vs leashed dog even if the dog was near the human. And being able to tell whether someone has a dog with them at all from a block away even if the dog is black and tiny and it’s 10pm on a drizzly winter night. LOL

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:14 pm
by MaisyPancakes
Haha!! There should be a contest for “Dog or no dog? Leashed or loose? Bonus: Will the human leash the dog when or before a/he is asked?” We would be world champions!!!

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:37 am
by connie
Here's another aspect of some reactive dogs that I'd forgotten:

Last night in agility training, Dee was not liking the curved tunnel at all, and after she made it out alive on one of our turns, she was excited (to see me again, I'm sure she thought she was going to her doom) and I was giving her treats and playing with her -- and the Airedale came roaring over and tried to pounce on Dee, who immediately went from 'I'm so happy!' to 'I'll kick your fuzzy ass and make a hat out of it!' and for about a minute and a half, there was a lot of lunging and barking and snarking.

I know this is a thing, but I find it mildly irritating: that I have to keep my own dog's arousal level tamped down lest a dog in the vicinity be triggered by it. Ugh. The Airedale didn't do any damage and was just being the dog he is, and the owner -- who was having a horrible night with allergies -- got him out of there quickly, but it was a disruptive break in a good time for Dee. Again, ugh.

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:45 pm
by Amanda
^ ^ ^ This is why all of our agility classes require dogs in crates while other dogs are running. I’m surprised your class allows dogs out. Agility is so exciting for all of the dogs. The class I take is the only one i’ve Ever been to with other dogs present so maybe the crate rule isn’t normal for everyone?

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:21 am
by connie
Oh -- this is a Beginner class and the whole class is on the floor at the same time, Amanda. In the classes -- like Rowley's -- where the dogs actually run courses, dogs are crated or on downs away from the action, and there are ring gates separating the area for dogs and handlers that aren't working.

Because of the nature of beginner training, the 4 or 5 dogs in each group (two groups on the divided floor) will cycle through a series of exercises, like a 3-jump pattern, or the tunnel, etc. All dogs are on leash. Ten-foot spacing is required. Our instructor hears the tiniest comment from one dog to another and she'll say 'Cathy, front your dog!' without even turning to see -- get your dog in front of you and get its attention and do a few obedience exercises.

We're now in our second 7-week session: the Boxer and young handler were gone by week 3 of the first session; the GSD did not return for the second session, encouraged by the instructors to find another activity that would suit them better. Ziggy the Airedale is still in class but he's a known quantity now and Dee doesn't waste her time even looking at him. He still reacts to the new dogs, and his owner has her hands full, but I learned he's a rescue who was kept in a basement for the first months of his life, so his behavior may have causes that aren't easy to erase. He's a nice dog and means no harm, but he is, after all, an AIREDALE! :rofl: :rofl:

Re: Are there more reactive dogs now, or am I just way more crabby?

Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:22 am
by connie
You couldn't pay me enough to live with an Airedale, they are a breed that cracks me up from afar but in NO way fits into my life!