Sometimes All You Can Do Is Manage

Sometimes all you CAN do is manage a dog’s reactivity. Since Ducky doesn’t always react negatively to another human in my presence, I can’t predict when she will or won’t react. Sometimes, but not always, Ducky will remain calm if I tell her to. This dog reads me faster than I do myself. She senses when I expect her to be calm or reactive and does exactly what I expect, even when I don’t know I expect it. That’s something I still have to work on. Still, each time she remains calm is a success for both of us.

When Ducky first came to live with us, she often woke herself up out of a nap growling and snarling at something in her dreams. It took a while, but day by day as she grew more secure in her new home, the nightmares stopped and so did the growling and snarling that would awaken her. She feels safe with us now, and knows this is her home too. Success!

Ducky can also be possessive of the toys in the house. She won’t growl, except in play, at my hubby or me; but if poor Shadow has the misfortune of laying down near a toy at the time Ducky decides she wants it, she starts growling until Shadow either gets up and moves or I tell her to “leave it!” Here, too, she’s getting better. Mostly, I think, because Shadow has gotten better about just letting her take the toy. Shadow knows I will let her give Ducky a taste of her own medicine now. I’m no longer afraid of the consequences since I’ve seen Ducky back off at the last minute. Success!

Oops, we had a setback today. Ducky started a little growl/snarl/nipping fest with Shadow earlier over a new toy. Callie tried to break it up but Ducky wouldn’t back off. Finally she did when hubby got up out of his recliner, startling her with the noise. Both dogs okay — no broken skin or bleeding — but I was NOT happy. Not upset with Shadow — she had just reached her “enough is enough!” point — but scolded Ducky. Then let it go, took her outside and worked her on the leash for a few minutes. Back inside, Ducky walked up to Shadow and licked her lip as if to say “I’m sorry, Shadow. I wuv you.” 😊 Success again.

(Sorry, no pictures…the computer is being a pain in the you-know-where tonight as I try to finish this post and publish it.)

This is the WOOF Support Blog Hop, where reactive dogs and their owners can come together to share similar experiences. Are you a reactive/fearful dog or its owner? Then please join us and share your story. Hosted by Oz the Terrier, Roxy The Traveling Dog and Wag ‘n Woof Pets blogs.

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15 thoughts on “Sometimes All You Can Do Is Manage

  1. Dogs N Pawz says:

    Teddy scares me every once in awhile with Diesel. Diesel torments Teddy until Teddy has had enough and growls and barks at Diesel. It always scares me but thankfully nothing has ever happened!

  2. gvannini says:

    Sounds like she is making some progress. Sporadic success is better than no success at all, but I know it can be stressful to not know how your dog is going to act. I know the hardest part for me was keeping a positive attitude and not being anxious that Jeni would react… she feeds off of my anxiety big time. I’m glad Shadow and Ducky made up! Nothing wrong with managing – sometimes it truly is all you can do and it is often the most responsible thing!

  3. Oz theTerrier says:

    It sometimes feels like two steps forward and one step back with a reactive dog. I try not to get frustrated but it can be hard. Thank you for joining our hop this month!
    Gina and Oz

    • The Golden Life says:

      I tend to get more frustrated with myself than with the dogs most times. Though I must admit I was definitely frustrated with Ducky yesterday when she started that growlfest with Shadow. We haven’t had to deal with one of those in several months. Luckily, my frustration fades fairly quickly where the dogs are concerned. They are, after all, just being themselves. No premeditation in their actions/reactions. And, after being separated from Shadow for about 20 minutes, Ducky was back to giving her sister lip licks. πŸ™‚

  4. Jan K says:

    I wonder if reactive dogs tend to also be possessive of things, or if that possessiveness is just another way they are reactive. Our Cricket is leash reactive and she’s also very possessive of certain toys. Her incidents happened mostly with her brother Moses who has passed on but sometimes her sister, and I keep a close eye on her when she’s playing with the new puppy, and I step in if I think she’s getting too wound up.
    We finally learned that loud noises would break through her intensity too. I bang cookie sheets together. And just like Ducky with Shadow, once they settle down, they are lovey-dovey again.
    Thank you for joining the hop!

  5. Jodi says:

    Mostly (and I say MOSTLY) dog altercations are just very loud and scary, BUT there are times when it can escalate.

    I will never reprimand my dog when they are responding to a dog that has started it, but if someone (namely Delilah) starts to get a little uppity, I try and nip that right away. It sounds like you have a good handle on it. Hang in there, you WILL get there.

    • The Golden Life says:

      Ducky really surprised me, and Sam, on Saturday when she threw that temper tantrum at Shadow. And, while I didn’t reprimand Shadow for giving it back to Ducky, I was surprised by her reaction too. She has been really good these last few months about just letting Ducky take the toy. I guess she had just reached her boiling point. I can’t say as I blame her, really. The important thing is that once they had a chance to “cool off”, they were fine the rest of the day. It wasn’t until last night that Ducky started acting “snarky” again. But since she was sitting between my legs, it was easy to nip it quickly. She slipped off the edge of the recliner with her back legs in the process, though, and the look on her face 😧 almost made me laugh!

  6. SlimDoggy (@MySlimDoggy) says:

    That’s the right attitude – there’s so many things out of your control all you can do is work on the ones you can control. I have the same issue with Jack – he reads me too carefully – although as he has been with us almost three years now, he’s really pretty settled and secure.

    • The Golden Life says:

      Another success this morning…when we got to her daycare, there was someone in the front room ahead of us. I simply told her “there’s someone else inside so you be a good girl for Mommy”. Not a peep out of her! She looked at the woman sitting in the chair and looked back at me. “GOOD GIRL, DUCKY!” got me a sweet little puppy kiss on the nose. πŸ˜‡ Yay!

  7. Kari Neumeyer says:

    Can I just say that I think Ducky is a supercute dog name?

    I know how you feel. It’s very scary when our dogs fight, too. Mostly they get along, which makes it all the more scary when it escalates (usually when Leo decides not to back down).

    Celebrate all the successes!

    • The Golden Life says:

      Geez, Kari, I’m sorry…I thought I had replied to you last month but nothing is showing up! Thanks, we think Ducky is a supercute name, too! And it fits her so well!

      We do celebrate every success, but they are getting so numerous that I can’t keep up any more so we just celebrate every day by loving on her! πŸ™‚

  8. Donna O. says:

    Sorry you had a little setback today. “New toys” are always an issue that I have to be aware of in my household too. But it sure sounds like as a whole, Ducky is improving in leaps and bounds in your household. πŸ™‚

    • The Golden Life says:

      Hi Donna! I saw earlier that you’re having “technical difficulties” too. Well, a little while ago, I signed up with Charter for my phone service (along with the internet and cable TV that we already have with them). This phone router crap has gotten on my last nerve. There is an end in sight! I still have to put up with connection disconnects for another 2 weeks, but now that I know the end is near I feel a lot better about it! Hope you get your problem resolved soon! I need to get into the “Sniff School” lessons, from the beginning.

      As for Ducky — yes, she has come a long way in the 18 months since we adopted her. I guess setbacks are to be expected now and then, but we’ve learned how to deal with them. She really is a sweet little girl and we love her with our whole hearts, just as we do her older sisters.

      • Donna O. says:

        Phew. Glad you have an end in sight! Our issues are because my husband switched servers. Mostly, I need to go back and fix a lot of posts, but I have so much else going on right now I’m just going to leave it until after the holiday, fix everything, and get back to posting again. πŸ™‚

        And on that note…have a happy holiday!! (if you are celebrating anything over the next week or so – and if not – then just have a happy week!). πŸ™‚

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