1. Dogs are not given proper socialization during the crucial period of 5-12 weeks of age to other dogs, animals, and people of all ages.
2. Dogs with unstable temperaments are being breed rapidly in puppy mills across the U.S. and are then sold to unsuspecting people with little dog experience.
3. Dogs in shelters often spend a long time in a kennel surrounded by other dogs that they can see, smell, and hear, but can't get to which causes an unbelievable amount of stress and frustration. This is the leading cause of barrier frustration when a dog is restricted for long periods of time to get to what they want and be able to perform normal doggie greeting behaviors.
4. People do not spend enough time training their cute little puppies and then they wonder why when the dog is 1 1/2 years old it is acting in unacceptable ways and it is much more difficult to reverse these behaviors given all the time they have had to practice.
5. People unconsciously cause this reactive behavior by putting choke chains, electric shock collars, and prong collars on their dogs and then yanking them or worse yet shocking them when the dog pulls towards another dog (naturally wanting to greet). Over time, this leads dogs to believe that approaching dogs cause them pain and therefore they begin to react before the punishment is given to prevent the pain.
So what can you do if one of the above has lead to your dog being a reactive rover?
1. Throw out the choke chains, prong collars & shock collars!!!
2. Teach your dog to focus on you starting inside your home with little to no distractions and then slowly start to add distractions at a distance.
3. Start a counter-conditioning & desensitization program right away (more to come).
4. Set your dog up to succeed by having as many positive interactions with others as possible.
5. Get your most valuable treats out for this one. Your everyday biscuits just won't do. I'm talking chicken, liver, cheddar cheese, etc.