7 Things Reactive Dog Owners Want You to Know

Barring heavy rain or freak Georgia snow storms, my dog Topher and I take walks nearly every day. At local parks, around our neighborhood, and the occasional hiking trail, we mark up the miles and enjoy the great outdoors. Usually these walks are uneventful. We watch birds, admire the foliage, and get our exercise. Then there's that walk. About once a month, it happens: an off-leash running towards us seemingly from nowhere, their owner many, many yards away. In the moment I wonder if this will be the day my dog becomes public enemy number one. If I cannot keep this off-leash dog far enough away—while also controlling my own dog as he reacts (quite strongly)—this may be the day my dog bites another dog. Or worse, another person, should the scenario escalate. It's the scenario we try very hard to avoid. This scenario sets our training back days or weeks every...

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Rehabilitating A Reactive Dog: Topher’s Story

My dog Topher is reactive. When I talk with people about our lovable, goofy, soon-to-be-3-year-old American Bulldog, I try to lead with that. Topher is a work in progress, and one I’m dedicated to sharing, because of the circumstances that created much of Topher’s reactivity. The morning of New Year’s Eve, 2013, started like most others. When my dog Topher and I set out for our walk, it was the middle of the morning, but very few people were out. We took a well-traveled route, down towards a park at the end of our neighborhood. Unfortunately, that was where the similarities to our other walks ended, and suddenly my dog and I were starting the new year on a very different path than we anticipated. As we rounded the corner near the park, I spotted two dogs. They were in the road several yards ahead, seemingly accompanying a man. Both dogs had...

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