Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

A call for advice – Daisy’s gone reactive!

on August 15, 2014

Ack!! I don’t know what’s suddenly gotten into our little miss, but she’s suddenly become a reactive dog when we take her for walks. And she’s barking at every little thing she hears at home, too.

When we would walk her and we came upon another dog walker, Daisy was always friendly. Now all of a sudden she’s straining at the leash, barking up a storm, and occasionally throwing in a little growl as well. All of this happened within the past two weeks, and we want to stop it right away. Our dog walking neighbors now cross the street when they see us coming, and that has to stop. I don’t even want to take her to PetSmart until we fix this thing – close quarters are no place for a reactive dog.

A lot of the advice I see online asks us to work with a friend who has a dog; well, that’s not possible for us. Only one of my friends has a dog, and her dog is completely antisocial. We can’t even walk our dogs together anymore, he’s gotten so bad. So that’s out.

I’m becoming very confused by all the instructions I’ve found online because some actually contradict others. We need to start something now, before this behavior really takes hold and maybe even escalates.

Can anyone recommend a good website or technique that you know works? We’d really appreciate the help!

31 responses to “A call for advice – Daisy’s gone reactive!

  1. We’re not to sure. Has there been an incident when Daisy might have felt threatened on a walk? Something that triggered this. Often, finding the root cause of behavioural issues can help you work out how to cure them. Is there a dog training class near you or a doggy park? Maybe your vet could advise you?

    Whatever happens we hope you work things out soon and keep us updated!

    Nacho, Noah, Buddy & Basil

    • raisingdaisy says:

      We’ve been trying to think of an incident that may have started this, but so far we can’t remember anything. Although….you just triggered something in my mind – we’ve been having work done around the house lately, with a lot of contractors all over the house. Daisy’s kept on her leash when they’re here, she’s always with one of us, but still she’s on her leash….I wonder if all this craziness has helped bring her reactions about? You may have helped solve the “why”, now we need to figure out the “how” to stop it!

      We do have a dog park nearby, but we won’t take Daisy there because it doesn’t separate the small dogs from the large dogs, and I’m very concerned about that. There have also been a couple of incidents of hawks attacking small dogs there. But we may have to ask our vet for a little advice if we can’t stop it ourselves. Thanks for your input!

      • Do the contractors have noisy tools or something that could have spooked her? Maybe she needs to associate being on the lead with fun things like treats or games for a little while? We’re not experts but whee have paws crossed things work out ^_^

      • raisingdaisy says:

        Well you give some great advice and food for thought for little cuties who aren’t dog experts! The electricians didn’t make noise, but they were going all over the house for two days, which she could have seen as invading her turf. Other contractors do have noisy tools, though, and I’m sure that unnerved her. That’s a great thought about associating the leash with negative experiences. It’s amazing how fast a dog can be “programmed”, so to speak, to make new associations. You guys are as smart as you are adorable!

  2. Will and Eko says:

    From reading the comments it looks like you’ve potentially traced the issues to the contractors. That may be a good place to start. I remember when my landlord had work done on the apartment it really put Eko off to have strangers in the house with loud tools. The next day I asked the workers if they would take a minute to say hello to Eko and give him a treat. After that he was their best friend. If anyone else comes to work on the place maybe try a similar tactic?

    It can be so tough to place the exact “why.” Has she had an injuries or aggravations? I know that can change a dog’s behavior as well, so like you said your vet may be a good place to start. Good luck!

    • raisingdaisy says:

      Her only injury was last year when she tore her ACL and meniscus, but that this just started a couple of weeks ago, so I don’t think the two are related. I like your idea of having the contractors say hello with a treat, that may work better than just a hello. The electricians said hello and pet her, but she still treated them like intruders every time they went through the room where we were. And I just found out that she doesn’t react like this when my husband walks her, so it that must say something too. I don’t know if she thinks she’s protecting my daughter and me or if she just thinks she can get away with more with us. Ugh.

  3. KDKH says:

    I hope you don’t the k this is too flakey , but I know an animal communicator. Who has helped our animals with issues like these. She’s top-notch and very thorough and accurate. http://www.insightwithanimals.com

  4. It sounds like Hutch and Eko’s parents have some good insight. Maybe going to Petsmart and not in, starting the treat training there without actual interaction? Maybe her ears are more sensitive too now that they aren’t muffled?
    Found this on muttabouttown.com (wordpress)

    Leash reactivity: It’s trainable (but not how you might think)
    Posted on August 18, 2013 by muttabouttowns
    You look at the clock. It’s time to walk your dog. As you grab the leash, the poop bags and your keys, you feel a familiar anxiety that occurs each time you step outside. You may fear that your neighbors will say, “Uh oh, there she comes with that crazy dog.” You may feel like your neighborhood has become one massive, unpredictable trigger for your dog. Once put on leash, your typically calm and sociable dog begins barking, lunging, growling and whining at typical neighborhood noises and distractions.

    Does this sound familiar? If so, take a deep breath and keep reading. Leash reactivity is a common and normal behavior for dogs. While cases vary in severity, and it is always advisable to consult a professional, force-free dog trainer if you have a leash reactive dog, rest assured that there are techniques you can use on your daily walks to manage and improve your dog’s leash manners (and your peace of mind).

    What’s going to be surprising about the next few paragraphs is what the training entails. Why? Because it appears counterintuitive. As a society, we tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to “aggressive” behaviors in dogs. Many people wrongly think we need to punish their dogs for growling, lunging and baring their teeth. It’s not difficult to understand how this myth came to be, but in reality, you need to do the exact opposite.

    When your dog is doing all those embarrassing, blustery behaviors on leash, it’s because she is upset. She is uncomfortable being constrained by a leash and encountering dogs, men, bicycles, etc. The blustery behaviors are the symptoms of the overarching problem. To solve leash reactivity, we need to change your dog’s emotion. Read on to learn how. mort-gerberg-boy-i-d-love-to-meet-you-sometime-off-leash-new-yorker-cartoon


    – Keep your dog calm and focused on you throughout the walk

    – Create positive associations with your dog’s typical triggers (instead of “uh oh, here it comes,” we want “yippee! here it comes!”)

    – As much as possible, avoid situations that are likely to put your dog over his comfort threshold

    Step 1: Identify your dog’s triggers

    – What makes your dog lunge, bark, growl or whine on leash? Common triggers include: other dogs (sometimes specific dogs, other times all dogs), people, people wearing heavy coats/hats/hoodies, men, skateboards, bicycles, and children.

    Step 2: Motivation

    – To keep your dog’s attention, you’ll need some highly tasty, highly valuable treats. Test out various options to find which ones your dog loves the most. Reserve the most valuable treats to use only on walks – this will make them more salient. Also try mixing up the types of treats you use during the walk to keep things interesting.

    – Some dogs love tug toys just as much or more than treats. If you have a dog that is toy motivated, you can also use this in addition to food.

    Step 3: Equipment

    – Make sure your dog is fitted with a no-pull harness (and has been trained to wear one).

    – If your dog has a history of aggression toward dogs and strangers, be sure to train your dog to wear a basket muzzle for safety purposes. (Mutt About Town recommends Baskerville brand muzzles. For more information about muzzles and muzzle training, go to The Muzzle Up! Project at http://muzzleupproject.com).

    – Don’t forget a treat pouch! You’ll need a way to easily access and deliver treats on the walk.

    – Use a regular nylon or cotton leash (no flexi-leads). As much as possible, try to keep the leash loose, as a tight leash can cause an increase in reactivity in dogs.

    The Plan

    – While walking your dog, keep a keen eye on the environment. Scan the sidewalk and surrounding area for potential triggers. Avoid areas where your dog could get “cornered” with an oncoming trigger.

    – Once your dog notices a trigger (a dog in a yard, a stranger across the street, etc.), immediately start “happy talking” to your dog and delivering treats. Make sure the treats come after your dog notices the trigger. We want the trigger to predict the treats, so that your dog learns that the things he fears actually lead to good things.

    – If your dog is too upset to take treats (i.e., if the trigger is too strong or too close), commence the happy talking and turn to create some distance between you and the trigger. Once your dog has some distance, proceed with the treats.

    – If you notice a situation nearby that your dog will not handle well, turn and go the other way. The goal of the walk is to keep your dog as calm as possible. One of the best tools you have in addition to supplying treats is increasing distance between your dog and the things that upset him.

    – Reinforce calm behavior! If you see your dog do typical walking behaviors (sniffing, loose and relaxed body language, “shaking it off” after stressful situations, or making eye contact with you), immediately reward him. To maintain calm, periodically ask your dog to do a simple behavior like “sit” or “touch,” and follow up with a treat. This helps your dog stay focused on you, and the reward for the behavior builds positive associations with the walk and surrounding environment.

    – Do not punish the reactive behavior (barking, lunging, growling, etc). Your dog is doing these behaviors because he is uncomfortable and upset. If you punish these behaviors, we’re only working on the symptoms of leash reactivity. The root of the problem is the emotion. By supplying happy talk and treats when your dog encounters things that are scary to him, you are gradually changing the emotion. You will not increase the barking, growling and lunging by doing this. Why? Because once your dog no longer fears his triggers, he will no longer do the reactive behaviors. Remember: You cannot reward fear.

    – Maureen Backman, MS

    Maureen is the owner of Mutt About Town and the founder of The Muzzle Up! Project. To get in touch, email her at muttabouttownsf@gmail.com.

    • raisingdaisy says:

      Marty, thank you SO MUCH for taking the time and trouble to give us this great information!! We can start this technique immediately – I’m now anxious to walk Daisy again instead of worrying about it! I can’t wait to try these things out, they make sense. We’ll post an update as soon as we’ve given this a fair shot. 🙂

  5. maybe you could visit the blog of Oz the terrier, he is reactive sometimes too :o)

  6. It may also help to get the advice of a professional trainer. Most offer one-on-one training and he or she can watch and observe both you and the dog, and help understand what’s going on, and how to help.

    Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

  7. Barbara says:

    I think Marty has given you some practical information to help solve the problem; it all makes sense. Go for it, and keep us up to date!

  8. kolytyi says:

    I agree with the idea that Daisy’s behavior might be related to the intruders in your house. Can you find any difference between your relationship to the workers and your husband’s relationship to them? Daisy seems to see here some variance. Maybe, she thinks that your husband is the boss over them but you are lower in the hierarchy because after a short conversation, you always go out of the room with her when the workers come in, and you aren’t able to prevent them from making terrible noise. Thus, she might have concluded that she had to protect you in dangerous situations (= she is put on the leash) because you were overpowered by unfamiliar and harsh folks.

  9. Misaki says:

    looks like you’ve been given some good advice, hope some of it helps

  10. Remember that Daisy had an injury not all that long ago so maybe she worries another dog may hurt her. I would take her to a good obedience class if you can one put on by an AKC obedience club (not one from Petsmart or the like). Maybe talk to the instructor before hand and get her in the right class. Believe it or not, Storm used to be a terror on a leash when she was young. I took her to several rounds of obedience classes until she was over it. The classes helped me to help her. Obedience classes give a dog confidence and let the dog know that the handler is in control. Good obedience classes are worth their weight in gold because they can solve so many issues.

  11. snoopys@snoopysdogblog says:

    Sorry I’m late to this post, how are things going now?

    I’m really good with other dogs when I’m out, but I bark at trucks that look and sound like the gardeners truck. When I do it Mum makes me sit and we wait until I settle down and then we can proceed. I don’t do it the same when Dad’s with us, is Daisy different depending on who’s walking her?

    I like the idea of getting a treat when I’m a good boy, Mum just praises me, but I’m gonna tell her about that suggestion!

    Good luck!

    I hope you’re having a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

  12. I’m sorry I’m so late in responding. I didn’t read through all the comments so I’m not sure if someone already mentioned the WOOF support group on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/WOOFSupport/ I did read through Marty the Manx’s comments and agree. Pierson is leash reactive too and these tips have helped. He hasn’t been ‘cured’ of his behaviors because we don’t encounter enough dogs on our walks to be consistent. But he has improved.

  13. Clowie says:

    I’m sorry I’m late to this post. I can see you’ve received some good advice, I hope you’ve found something that is helping.

  14. Millie was naughty on walks when she was young. I found some good tips in The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell. I also found it useful to take her to a training class. We had to persevere for several weeks before she settled down in class, but in the end she loved ‘school’, pricking up her ears in excitement whenever it was mentioned. I took her for 3 years and she became much calmer on walks, only breaking out occasionally.
    I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award: http://annabellefranklinauthor.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/were-one-lovely-blog/

  15. Novroz says:

    I wish I can give you an advice but I never dogs in my life.

    Good luck with Daisy.

  16. Mumsy's Little Chancy Man says:

    We hope adorable little Miss Daisy is doing all better now and the issue has been solved and she is doing well on her walks and enjoying them. Give her some hugs and nose kisses for us.

  17. granny1947 says:

    My goodness woman…you haven’t blogged for a month!!!

  18. I had a similar problem with a dog of mine many years ago. It was a super dog for many years, and then suddenly it just went crazy. Unfortunately, I did not seek professional help soon enough. Penny had developed a tumor which was hurting her and causing her to try to communicate with me about her pain. I didn’t understand, and by the time I took her to a vet, it was too late. She died just a couple of weeks later. Sadly, if I had understood her early on instead of waiting for eight months, she could have had surgery and been with me for many more years.

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