WOOF! Management Is the Secret to Success

Welcome to the second WOOF Support Blog Hop.

This month’s theme is Success, Frustration, and Everything In Between.

Reactive dog trainers talk about “setting your dog up for success.” To me, that means careful management.

Generally, I do not consider Leo a fearful dog, but he is extremely leash-reactive. After what we went through with Isis, I don’t have it in me to devote the kind of time needed to teach Leo to be bomb-proof on a leash. Instead, I manage him. I don’t walk him around our neighborhood when we’re likely to encounter a bunch of other dogs or people.

While I am decidedly not a runner, Rob jogs on a treadmill sometimes, and I knew he liked the idea of jogging with our dogs. The day we met Mia, in fact, he tested her out to see if she would run beside him. She did, and yet, he never goes running with the dogs.

Recently, during the darkest, wettest part of winter, I started walking the dogs around a well-lit commuter parking lot that used to be a drive-in movie theater. (Rob remembers when it was, but that was way before my time.) Buses arrive on the hour to return college students to their cars, but otherwise there is minimal bicycle or dog traffic, and the gravel is so uneven, I’ve yet to see a skateboarder there.

I clocked it with my car and found that the perimeter is 1/3 of a mile. I suggested to Rob that he try jogging there with Leo. He took me up on it, and a new exercise routine was born!

Mia and I went with them a few days ago to get some pictures before Mia and I went on our own walk. (I told you, I don’t run.) Leo was very distraught to see me and Mia go off in the other direction. He squawked and squawked and even backed out of his harness. Mia and I had to get out of his eyeline before he could focus on jogging with Rob.

Mia and I got back while they were on their sixth lap. I handed her off and Rob jogged with both of them for a stretch.

As far as I’m concerned, any activity that gets their tongues hanging out is a success. If we can do it without a bark or a lunge, it’s cause for celebration!

Do you have a reactive or fearful dog? Please join us and share your story. The Blog Hop is open through Sunday, March 16, hosted by Oz the Terrier, Roxy The Traveling Dog and Wag ‘n Woof Pets.

Oz the Terrier

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14 thoughts on “WOOF! Management Is the Secret to Success

  1. That is a great way to manage things, and I agree that management is an important tool! I jog a little bit…and my hubby runs too. But he doesn’t like to take the dogs as much, whereas I love to. It’s such great exercise for them. It’s a good way to keep them moving, if you do run into someone they might react to also. You did well to find a place that worked and to get Rob out there as well.
    Thanks for joining the hop!

  2. Don’t you just love finding those perfect places? We’ve recently discovered a baseball field where dogs are allowed, securely fenced and so far have only encountered one other person/dog. Ruby really benefits from the off-leash exercise.

  3. I LOVED this! As a dog walker who walks more reactive dogs than not I am ALL about setting them up for success. What works for one is a total failure with the next, but it sounds like you’re onto something here! A tired dog is a good dog right?

    I also highly believe that keeping those reactive dogs moving at a quick pace is THE BEST way to keep them out of trouble. One of my reactive dogs is quite uncoordinated and he has to focus so hard to keep up with my quick pace he doesn’t have time to look for something to geek out about 😉

  4. Great advice. I definitely also try to “manage” Rita’s reactivity. (e.g. we don’t go out at the popular early walk times – since I work from home, we can wait and go later when most folks have left for work; we don’t walk past houses where I know dogs are lurking, ready to lunge, behind fences; we will turn down an alley or side street if we see a potentially bad ‘sitch headed our way.) Running worked great w/ our reactive angel beagle. If she was running she was way too happy/engaged to bother barking at other dogs. I wish I could run with Rita, but back trouble is keeping me from running at the moment. 😦

    • I was home midday last week and walked both dogs around the neighborhood in the pouring rain. It was awesome!! No bikes. We did see another dog and I just whirled around and went the other direction. I hope your back feels better soon!

  5. I had terrific luck with jogging our fearful dog (detailed here: http://dogthusiast.com/2014/01/02/training-blog-hop-jogging-with-your-dog-behavior/ ). It enabled us to get around the neighborhood without her flying into a panic at every sound or unusual sight. I’ve used it with a few different reactive dogs, various kinds of reactivity, and it has worked well with them too. Just enough constant distraction that they don’t focus in on the fear. I’m a terrible jogger myself, but almost got good at it for awhile there when Tig needed it! (Now she’s fine on a walk after about 4-5 months of jogging… now *I* need to work on my own motivation to pick up the pace!!)

    Adore the photo series!

  6. I am no jogger but I tend to walk fast (or so I am told). I find when I am walking at a faster pace, Oz is less reactive obviously because there isn’t much time to react. However, I sometimes forget to “pick up the pace” on our walks…I do enjoy a calm walk with Oz as well…and those are the times he will react if another dog is coming our way. I am so glad you found something that works for you!! That is the most important thing! And thank you for sharing it with all of us.
    Gina and Oz

  7. Jason can also run with Brychwyn with little to no reactivity (Brychwyn is also not what I would call fearful but boy is her leash reactive!) And Huxley never pulls on his leash while jogging! I just wish Jason had more time and the right schedule to make a routine out of running with the dogs more often. Each and every non-reactive moment, especially when getting proper exercise, is a bonus for the whole family.

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