My husband and I have a brindle beauty, Raisin, a 5-year-old collie mix. When we adopted him from the pound two years ago, they said he had been abused. He goes ballistic when he sees other dogs. Even if he knows the other dog, he is a major barker. Someday, when my disabled-veteran pension arrives, we want to rent a house and adopt a friend for Raisin.What can we do about this ballistic trait? We signed up for the Humane Society of Missouri Introductory Seminar for Training a few years ago, but have since been deactivated. The $75 fee for the "Growly Dog" course was just too much for us (we are senior citizens). I used to carry a water gun when we walked the dog, but I got tired of losing it. I bought one of those clickers, but they don't help. Raisin is great with people and a wonderful pet. He just can't handle other dogs.I was encouraged by doctors to adopt a pet because I suffer from depression. The doctors were right -- my depression is a lot better. But we also want to help Raisin.
M.S.W., St. Louis, Mo Jul 26, 2009
Dogs bark for many reasons, including excitement, for attention or to warn and protect. My guess is that your dog is not properly "dog socialized" and needs the opportunity to have off-leash time with other dogs. Having a dog buddy could certainly help.
Dogs on the leash tend to be more protective/defensive and are likely feeling vulnerable when restrained. Your reactions are important. Don't discipline or tug hard on the leash -- that may only incite him as he picks up on your anxiety. Play it cool. Try to teach him to sit and stay. Buy a gentle leader that goes around his muzzle for easier control when he's on the leash. One of my dogs is terrified of a clicker. Forget the water gun. He needs quality time to play with other dogs, the best therapeutic rehabilitation being in a safe backyard with an easygoing dog. Yes, your dog is your therapist/healer, like many good dogs (and cats) can be -- so you owe him the best you can give.
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